Sunday, September 18, 2011

Unrelated Spectacles & Green Rumps



I was speaking with Ed Singh today he has some wonderful Blue Mutation Yellow Napped Amazons. Wow he is very smart as well, he had mentioned your name and spoke very highly of you. I have also been E-mailing with Brian Nielsen in Denmark he has a very good sense with Parrotlets. But he will not ship to USA.

I have purchased 3 Green Rumps from *****, these birds are so small and sweet. But they are related I was looking for an un-related male that was banded and have had no luck. I have spoke with **** and found that I am number four on his list to receive a Spectacled Parrotlet, which is very exciting except that I will be looking for a un-related female Spectacle Parrotlet AND and his stock of Green Rumps are related to these birds...

I am finding myself going around full circle each time and continue to write you. So I would like to say that with out your help I would have given up already. I can NOT believe how much I have learned./ I have read your book of Parrotlets endless times and nearly have it memorized. And I would like to ask if you would know where I could find a Banded male Green Rump, and a Female Spectacle Parrotlet. These birds are very difficult for me to locate.

There was one gentleman in Orlando interbreeding Green Rumps to Pacifics and have decided not to purchase ANY of his birds.

Please if you have any info I would be most grateful. Thanks

Dear Matt:

Thank you for your email and your patience waiting for my response. As I responded earlier, I was on a much needed vacation and have just returned.

It is ironic that you mention Ed Singh. I had not heard from Ed in years and just recently ran into him at the AFA convention in August. It was wonderful catching up with him. He is an amazing man with an incredible knowledge of birds and I am very lucky to consider him a friend. As for Mr. Nielsen, neither he nor ANYONE else can legally export normal birds into the US. They can only export color mutation Pacifics and even then, only the color the US government says he can.

I understand your frustration with the extremely limited gene pool available in the US with regard to Green Rumps and Spectacles. If you think those birds are hard to come by, don’t even think about Blue Wings, Mexicans or Yellow Face. I am currently writing a very sad article on genetically extinct species of parrotlets in the US and ALL of them fall under that category except for Pacifics. Even with Pacifics it is almost impossible to find any normal, wild-type birds that do NOT have mutations in their genetic background. This is something that has been very hard for me to accept since I had worked tireless for the last almost 30 years to preserve these species by helping found the International Parrotlet Society, organizating breeding cooperatives, publishing books and countless magazine articles and of course, speaking about the need to preserve these species at national and international avian venues for decades. Unfortunately, however, human greed and ego, along with the passage of the Wild Bird Conservation Act in 1992 has led us to the place where we are now.

You do not mention the WBCA so I apologize in advance if you know about it but I am going to go into it briefly since its passage was instrumental in contributing to these birds no longer being available. In 1992, Congress passed the Wild Bird Conservation act which was intended to stop the importation of wild caught birds. It was required in order for the US to comply with its obligations as a member of CITES (Convention in International Trade in Endangered Species). Unfortunately, US Fish & Wildlife Service, which is responsible for its implementation and enforcement, decided that since there is no way to visually determine if a bird was hatched in captivity or the wild, regardless of being banded or microchipped, they set up regulations that made it so difficult to import birds that even zoos have had problems. For the average hobbyist or breeder, forget it. Only approved breeding cooperatives (usually managed by non-profit organizations not individuals), captive bred birds listed on the Approved Import list, approved foreign breeding facilities and pet birds traveling with their owners can be imported. Most species of parrotlets mature at 1 year of age and produce offspring. So in almost 20 years, we have had 20 generations of birds being produced. Every generation, of course, further drains the gene pool of unrelated birds. Ironically, the birds that were allowed to be imported under WBCA, i.e., color mutations, have proved to be the ultimate downfall of every species of parrotlet in the US except for Pacifics. This is because people got rid of all their other species of parrotlets and chose to breed color mutation Pacifics instead. This was because a) they could charge hundreds if not thousands of dollars for new color mutations and b) they could feed their egos by producing color mutation birds that did not previously exist. This further depleted the availability of birds and the birds that were still available can almost all be considered related.

By 1987 most South American countries had quit exporting their birds, including Green Rumps Obviously this was before the passage of WBCA so their genetic contributions to the US captive bred populations were cut off even earlier than 1992. Also, Green Rumps, were notoriously difficult birds to breed and keep. This was because they are very timid very shy birds. They are easily stressed, picky eaters and very unpredictable parents. Even proven pairs were known for suddenly stopping breeding, producing infertile eggs and abandoning/killing chicks. Today, they are almost impossible to find and for those that can be found, while I am not a betting woman, I would bet my last dollar they are all related. They have to be – otherwise they would not exist.

As far as Spectacles go, there were none in the US until 1992 when approximately 20-30 pairs of birds were imported. They came into the country right before the WBCA was enforced on Jan. 1, 1993. The International Parrotlet Society had been founded in 1992 and the first thing we did was set up a breeding cooperative. It obviously worked very well since the birds were bred and available to the pet trade in less than 2 years. This was due to the devotion and dedication of the breeders who traded birds rather than sell them and the birds’ own strong health and great parenting skills. Unfortunately, many people got rid of their Spectacles to breed color mutation Pacifics. Of the people who continued to breed, our already tiny gene pool was further depleted. I can guarantee you that all of the Spectacles available these days are related.

When it comes to the other species – Mexicans, Blue Wings, Yellow Face and Sclaters, the picture is even more dismal. They are truly extinct birds flying – at least in the US anyway.

Mexican parrotlets were always difficult to breed, only produced one clutch per year if you are lucky and since so many were smuggled many came in with avian t.b. and killed off any birds that were exposed. Not many people worked with Mexicans because of that; I only know of 1 other private breeder although there were a couple of zoos working with them. All of the birds are either related, too old or both to breed.

Blue Wings were a little easier to breed but they never made good pets being nervous and difficult even when hand-fed so very few people worked with them. To complicate things, a color mutation blue Blue Wing surfaced and, once again, due to the amount of money that could be made, everyone tried to breed these birds by breeding them to the few remaining normal birds so they are all related. Now, there are only 2 breeders of Blue Wings in the US and all the birds are very closely related. When they die, the species will officially be extinct in the US.

Yellow Face were never imported in large numbers. In fact, I can only verify 3 legal importations of the birds and the last one was in 1985. In the early 2000’s, there were two reported cases of the birds being smuggled – many of them had avian t.b. and died off; the others, due to their limited availability were hybridized with Pacifics. While some of these birds are still around everyone I have seen have been hybrids so they are now considered ‘extinct’ in this country.

Of the Sclater’s Parrotlet, only one pair was ever documented to have had offspring. That was in the late 1980’s and the birds, along with their single offspring, died in a house fire.

So I am sorry to take such a long time to get to my point, you are not going to be able to find any birds that are unrelated to yours. I do still breed Green Rumps and Spectacles but mine are certainly related to yours – if not directly from my stock. I was one of the first people in the US to breed Spectacles and my Green Rumps were spread far and wide across this country. And while I still breed, they are all getting older producing fewer and fewer birds – very soon I won’t have anything but my retired birds.

To say this is sad beyond belief is an understatement. I had made it my life’s work to be able to preserve these species but unfortunately I was not successful. I wish you the best of luck and perhaps you will be fortunate enough to find the birds you are looking for. After all, a Spix’s macaw was once located in the US but rarely does lightening strike. I do hope you have a better understanding of this situation so you do not get taken advantage of – anyone who claims to have birds unrelated to yours should produce a DNA pedigree and/or they should have been breeding these birds since before 1992.

I do wish you the best of luck.

Sincerely yours,

Sandee L. Molenda, C.A.S.
The Parrotlet Ranch, Owner,
Join the International Parrotlet Society, – the World’s Largest and Oldest Parrotlet Organization
A Chattering Bird Builds No Nest.
Camaroonian Phrase

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