One Man's Conservation Efforts to Save the Hoffman's Conure

Yvonne I. Patterson

Abstract


"'The Hoffman's Conure Pyrrhura hoffmanni cannot be purchased in this country. It's a shame they've never been established in captivity, as they have such charming and sweet personalities. Like most conures, they are very curious and very active. Sometimes referred to as a Sulphurwinged Parakeet, they are a small conure approximately eight inches in length.

Their cute red ear coverts and spot on the chin highlight their inquisitive faces. They appear to be mostly green until observed closely. The throat and breast feathers have orange-yellow tips; the undersides of flight feathers are olive-yellow; the tail is reddisholive margined with green; and the primaries and outer secondaries are yellow which turn to green towards the tips. Yellow on the wings forms a band which is conspicuous in flight, although it is entirely hidden while perched.

The Hoffman's Conure only occurs in Central America - more specifically, the southern part of Costa Rica and the western part of Panama. It is named after German physician Carl Hoffmann who explored the upper portions of the volcanic ridges in the mid-1850's. He died in 1857 and is commemorated in the names of a dozen species. Hoffman's Conures are extremely difficult to spot in the wild, as they frequent the canopies of the tall forest trees. Occasionally they will be spotted flying across semi-open country. As they quickly tly past, one can spot the wings flashing yellow in the sunlight or, with a very good eye, the red ear coverts. They are usually in small flocks and rather wary. However, like several other types of conures in the wild, they can be slowly approached if they are feeding on fruits or seeds of trees.

In 1979, a group of 35 Hoffman's Conures were exported from Panama to the U.S. by Dr. Nathan Gale. Dr. Gale has been a veterinarian in Panama, first with the Canal Zone and later with the military, for over 20 years. His request was to try to establish this rare species in captivity. The birds were then placed in several aviaries in Arizona, where Chris Rowley first reproduced them in captivity in 1982. Both Chris Rowley and Dr. Gale were awarded a U.S. first breeding award. The total numbers declined even though they were marginally reproduced. In 1990, all birds were transferred to an aviary in California which made a total of 11 Hoffman's Conures. They included four wildcaughts which now were at least 11 years old, and seven offspring. Of the 11 birds, there were only four females, the older two...

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