Blue-throated Conures in Aviculture
(Pyrrhura cruentata)

by David T. Longo

Longo�s Aviaries Inc.
Meaford, Ontario, Canada

The Blue-throated conures are best recognized as being one of the most colourful members of the Pyrrhura family. Other than countries that commonly speak English this species is commonly referred to the "cruentatas" acknowledged from their latin name. This species has existed in aviculture longer than most of us are led to believe. Their natural soil is in Brazil, where it all started. The natural distribution of this specimen is from southeastern Brazil. Their range extends from the south side of Bahia directly south to the northeastern side of Sao Paolo across to Rio de Janeiro. They do exist on the east side of Bahia to the coast from Itabuna to Mucuri.

The Blue-throats were first introduced into European aviculture presumably through Portugal and other close countries with their related history to Brazil and have been recorded there more than 100 years ago. They became popular and more in demand in the 1970�s in European aviculture increasing numbers of offspring being bred and imported. Until today, Brazil has still never allowed the export of these birds. Suggesting the birds were exported from other countries other than Brazil are not impossible. There are always possibilities that these birds may have been traded over borders surrounding Brazil, in these countries, were kept and bred and may have exported offspring as well as founder stock to Europe. They are a smaller bird and reproductive rates occur very rapidly, maturity in these specimens as young as 10 months and large clutch sizes ranging from 4 to 11 eggs. The possibilities are endless as to positively tracking each individual birds original status in Europe.

The only birds that may have been legally exported were zoological institutions that orchestrated expeditions to the specimens� countries of origin. There, the specimens could be found and acquired to introduce them to their exhibits. The attraction to lure the public to the zoos with these small subjects may have not been very lucrative and still is not today. In turn the zoological institutions forwarded the birds to local aviculturists and started a new foundation for their increasing populations in Europe. The same scenarios occurred with the Blue-headed Macaw (Propyrrhura couloni) and other specimens so should not rule out the blue-throated conures to these international methods just yet.

1987 marked a black day in the history of U.S. aviculture. This was the last major import that entered U.S. through California and carried Exotic Newcastle�s Disease with it. U.S.F.W.S. and U.S. Environment agencies decided for the protection of the country, poultry industry and safety of Americans, it was in their best interest to shut down the U.S. from any more commercial importing of psittacines. This dramatically slowed down the interest of new specimens to work with in America. The rules and regulations became much more stringent If it were not for this, the blue-throats would have entered U.S. aviculture by the early 1990�s before Canada, as well as other Pyrrhuras and other birds that have no official legal status of their origin. Fortunately, there are few dedicated individuals that have implemented consortium arrangements with the U.S.F.W.S. Up until the last 3-4 years there were barely any blue-throats in N. America. Many of the available species in Europe landed in Canada and were bred by few aviculturists within the same year they were all imported. The price tag on the head of Pyrrhuras mainly lie on their availability, they are abundant in large numbers in Europe and S. Africa hence can be obtained very inexpensively. The importers and exporters in Canada, U.K., S. Africa and other countries that presently posses the blue-throats have not controlled the amounts that have crossed their borders. This helped the birds� overpopulation; hence the dramatic decrease in the price of the birds, virtually worth nothing. In the past three years the price on blue-throats, rose-crowned and rose-fronted have come down almost to the same value as pearly and white-eared conures. The consortium members in the U.S. have better control of the genetic and dispersion status of the Pyrrhuras that have been recently imported therefore will always maintain a higher value on them in the United States. Blue-throated Conures already exist in one or two collections in US and due to the poor luck finding any legal birds globally, the aviculturists stand a narrow chance of importing them unless they can prove to the government the birds are of legal descent. Hopefully the federal government should take into consideration the birds will not exist a very healthy genetic future in their country if they do not allow new bloodlines� importation, otherwise, it would be in the individual specimens� best interest to be put in a breeding program where they do exist in other countries before their time runs out.

All in all, these conures like most Pyrrhuras do not realize how small their size is compared to their personalities are and are quite comical when being hand reared. I am fortunate enough to be currently working with 4 unrelated pairs of Blue-throateds. They do not exist as pets here in Canada yet and do not think they will be available as pets until we can establish a good genetic pool for them. Providing them as pets is not the goal but due to isolated circumstances, this is more than likely to occur. They still do exist in stable numbers in Brazil and in captivity worldwide and should have a promising future in aviculture.

Dave T. Longo
Longo's Aviaries Inc.
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