‘Mutations’… a word that always generates different views in bird keeping. Some for them, and some against them. Some people don’t like them, as their opinion is the wild types are always the most beautiful so why change them? Why pollute the pure stock we have with these abnormal coloured birds, the latter being a very good point! I personally think there are only a few mutations that possibly look better/more desirable than the wild type i.e. Rosa mutation of the Bourke parakeet in my opinion is one of them…but as they say “beauty is in the eye if the beholder.”

Some people get great pleasure breeding mutations for fun, combining two colours and patiently waiting for that first chick to feather up and hopefully be something new & attractive to look at in their own flights etc. Also, there are always the specialist mutation breeders/enthusiasts in the race to breed something new and very desirable, which everyone will want and most likely demand high prices. If it wasn’t for them I’m sure there would not be the range of colours we see today.

I’m the first to admit that when I first started keeping mutations the value had a part to play. Seeing the high prices at bird shows and crowds of people around the stands of the leading mutation breeders, taking money like they were taking bets. I remember thinking “ I breed them and only get $10 each for them” “If I buy some of his mutation ones and breed them I will get $100 each for them.” A plan that cannot fail, that’s what attracts a lot of people into them the $ signs.

I did do quite well with them when I was breeding mutations in a larger scale. I was one of a dozen who took the gamble and bred/multiplied some of the new/rare colours of Zebra Finches & Peach Face Lovebirds in the US, and it appeared it paid off. However, now looking back I wonder did it really pay off. As time went by and the prices fell more rapidly every year to a point were I could not hardly give my birds away, as the market was so flooded with mutations. I must point out that getting the pure normal type of the Peach Face is now nearly impossible, but thankfully there are a few being bred by the people who just bred them for pleasure in a small flight at the bottom of the garden. It was then I had a change of heart and went in for the Pyrrhuras something I have never regretted, but I do miss those Peach Face days as I had developed a genuine interest in mutations by then.

Over recent months we have all seen the mutation explosion that it becoming apparent, I for one find it a little exciting! But I’m also concerned on the impact it is going to have on the normal pure forms of Pyrrhuras in a few years. It won’t be just the pure Greencheeked we will lose.  It will be the range of sub-species available to us today, which are already slowly disappearing, due to miss-matched sub-species/species.  This can be partly blamed on the breeders who sell these birds without explaining the differences etc. It’s up to breeder’s like us to educate the new comers to the hobby, in a way we are responsible for the disappearance of sub-species/species due to novice breeders unaware of what they are keeping. Also when these mutations/colours are crossed to give new combinations of colours it means sub-species will be crossed, there will be a number of intermediate birds/split birds of two sub-species. Note alot of the mutations originated in separate sub-species i.e. Yellow-Sided a natural variation of Molinae molinae (given its own classification as P.hypoxantha now).  Pastel blue originated in the Sordida sub-species & the Cinnamon as far as I’m aware is in the Molinae molinae sub-species and these have already been combined to produce new shades/colours.

Mutations will be more damaging in Pyrrhuras than in the Peach Face as the Peach Face could not be crossed with any other species, and you still had the chance of breeding the mutant gene out of them to get back to the wild type. In Pyrrhuras I foresee it being one of the worst things that could happen if people are not aware of what they hold and what they plan to pair it to…. So if you do decide to give mutations a go please bear in mind a couple of points I have made and always hold back some pure normal pairs to fall back on. I’m not anti-mutations, as many of you know I have been breeding the pastel blue Greencheeked. Its just I feel very strongly about losing the pure forms to mutations as its so easily done, it has already happened to alot of species and I don’t want to see Pyrrhura conures become one of them.

My aim with my web-site is to promote the conures and hopefully educate people about sub-species, a problem that is not just confined to the UK with Greencheeked & Maroon Bellied being miss-matched. I’m hoping to have 4 out of the 5 sub-species in the Greencheeked represented in my flights in the near future. There is a place for mutations but it must never be first place…. If that day ever comes in Pyrrhuras it will be a great shame.

I hope I have not upset anyone with this article. It was put forward just to make people think & hopefully have more of a understanding of what they maybe doing unintentionally. We can learn from each other mistakes. I hope my emails to the group and my website reflects my interest and enthusiasm with breeding Pyrrhuras for pleasure not so much the value, but I do like to get a few pounds for my efforts to buy more pure Pyrrhuras of course!

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