Purrhura conures types - part 1: Species vs subspecies vs mutation


Supporting Member
Parrot of the Month 🏆
May 23, 2018
Bourke's parrots, green cheeked conure
Almost 2 years ago I wrote a 3-part article about conure types of genus Pyrrhura. Originally it was written for Facebook group, which was deleted few days ago. I thought I'll translate it to English and post here. Only two parts are saved (1 & 3), but I'll try to rewrite the lacking part 2.
1. If you find some grammar mistakes, don't be afraid to point out them. On Monday I'm writing an English exam and this may help me what I should repeat.
2. All 3 parts are about conures of genus Pyrrhura, but this part may be useful for each person, who confuses species, subspecies and mutations, no matter what parrot type - because the meaning is exactly the same.

Species vs subspecies vs mutation
By Rozalka, original version posted in 2020, translated to English in 2022

Some people confuse these notions, so I’ll try to explain them.

Species – it’s a taxonomic rank below genus (in this case – Pyrrhura). It may be green cheeked, crimson bellied, black capped conure and many others. Different species shouldn’t be crossbred (however green cheeked and black capped conures crossbreed in the wild).

Subspecies – a taxonomic rank below species. Not every species has subspecies and they not always have English names. The most often subspecies which have English names, are ones with unsure taxonomic rank (I mean they can be separated as different species, example: Azuero conure – P. (picta) eisenmanni). In the case of the most common species (green cheeked conure), no subspecies have English names. They shouldn’t be crossbred, exception – P. molinae molinae and P. molinae hypoxantha (explanation below).

Mutation – coloration (usually) bred in captivity. It means, they aren’t in the wild (exception – yellow sided, about it later). Different mutations you can crossbreed. They are common only in one species – green cheeked conures, but there are some mutations in other species too. Examples: yellow sided, cinnamon, turquoise.

Yellow sided green cheeked conure has a bit more complicated definition. It is a mutation, which lives naturally in the wild and they have own range isolated from normal GCC’s. This is why it also is a separated subspecies – P. molinae hypoxantha. Later, in the captivity, it turned out it the opaline mutation. So, here’s the exception – you can crossbreed.

Additionally – what if we crossbreed?

Hybrid – a cross between two different species or subspecies (exception: P. molinae molinae x P. molinae hypoxantha doesn’t exist). It’s ok, if you get a hybrid accidentally. Pyrrhura conures are close relatives, so the offspring shouldn't have any health problems (they crossbreed even in the wild as mentioned before). In the next generations, the birds still are hybrids. Some people say that when they cross a black forest conure (green cheeked x black capped hybrid) with a green cheeked conure, they get a green cheek again. It ISN’T TRUE. It always is a hybrid. So, now imagine – what if we all start crossbreed all species? The clear species would be lost. Curiosity: it is possible to crossbreed conures of different genera (e. g. Pyrrhura x Aratinga). They are less related, so the offspring may have more health problems.

Combination - in every day life, we usually call it as just a mutation. Each mutation has own way of inheritance, so there’s no such thing like ‘mutation hybrid’. If from genetics we get two or more mutations in one bird, we call it as a combination. Examples: pineapple, turquoise yellow sided, cinnamon dilute, opamint.
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great info

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