Name that Bird!

(updated below)

A few days ago I acquired a male green cheek conure for my pet hen with the intent of breeding the two. He was a raffle bird at a club so I don't know anything about his background. He was open-banded and it appears to be a breeder's band. There is no year but I'm guessing he is between 5 and 10 years old. Until now every GC I've met has been a spitting image of my hen but this guy looks different. First of all he's much larger. I haven't weighed him yet but he is definately much heavier. One of the bird club members commented that she's never seen a GC that big. His eye ring also seems a bit "thicker," his belly is more greenish than red and many of his green feathers end in a nice blue. I also noticed, just today, that he has an orange-yellow spot at the "wrist" joint on each wing. I think I might have a different subspecies here but I'm not sure which one. I checked the Lexicon of Parrots site and the Pyrrhura m. phoenicura and P. m. hypoxantha looked the closest. Can anyone tell me what I have?

I e-mailed the conure expert Robbie Harris at Bird Breeder and got the following reply:

I read over your letter and now looked over your photos, and I do believe you have a hybrid conure. I am guessing Green-cheek crossed with a painted or pearly conure. These hybrids develop into over sized birds, and are quite large. Yours maybe second or even third generation, bred back to Green cheeks. The red or yellow feathering on shoulders are very typical for these hybrids. It sounds and looks just like the offspring from these hybrids. These mixes are fertile and will readily produce right back with Green cheeks, and as they do they will loose some of their red in the shoulders. Also, keep in mind, Green cheeks vary so much in color and size. I have been breeding these birds now for decades, and some do not even have green cheeks, and can be very large.

I originally got the conure to pair with my green-cheek pet, Confetti. When I received Robbie's reply they were already paired and bonded so I decided to let them breed and just band the chicks "hybrid" and sell them into the pet trade. All breeding attempts were fraught with failure. They did indeed lay viable eggs and hatch them but all the chicks died. When the first clutch of two died I thought it was new parent error. For the second clutch I pulled one chick and left one with the parents. They lost theirs. I managed to raise the other chick for about two weeks but it aspirated one morning when I handfed it. Iíd never aspirated a chick before this and it was a terrible experience. A year later I bred them again. Confetti couldnít keep the chicks alive. History repeated itself on the second clutch when I left two chicks with the pair and tried to handfeed one- they lost the chicks and mine aspirated. Iíve since given up on the breeding the pair. Do the chicks have some sort of problem with their trachea, esophagus and feeding mechanisms? Were the hybrid genes making chicks that could never eat properly? Maybe thatís why I found my male on a raffle table in the first place.

Now I've lost my pet conure, Confetti (she is no longer tame), and have a pair that can't breed like they'd like to. I was hoping Confetti could be a pet/breeder like my tiels and budgies but apparently it doesn't seem to work with conures. I can't sell the male either for several reasons: it is against my principles to sell an animal I made the mistake of buying, Confetti is now bonded with him, and what would anyone else do with him? Live and learn I guess.

Feisty Feathers
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