There are three genera of parrotlets. The most commonly known genus is Forpus. Touit is much less known and there are only two species within the Nannopsittaca genus. However, for the purposes of this guide, only 6 types of parrotlets that are most commonly kept as pets will be discussed.
1. Celestial Parrotlet (Forpus Coelestis/Pacific)
This species is more commonly known as the Celestial or Pacific Parrotlet. These hardy little birds come from Peru and Ecuador and live in dry regions where there are bushes instead of trees.
Upon reaching sexual maturity at 10 to 12 months, males and females can be easily differentiated.
Males have cobalt rumps and wing and eye markings. Females have emerald green eye markings instead of blue.
2. Spectacled Parrotlet (Forpus Conspicillatus)
The spectacled Parrotlet is slightly smaller than Forpus Coelestis, weighing just 25 to 28 grams or 0.88 to 0.99 ounces. This species is also native to South America and is found in Columbia, Panama, and Venezuela.
There are two subspecies of F. Coelestis:
- Forpus C. Caucae
- Forpus C. Metae
The natural habitats of this species – forests and woods – have been severely degraded. As a result, F. Coelestis is now at risk. Therefore, it is very important that you only buy Spectacle Parrotlets from a breeder and not wild-caught individuals.
Once adult plumage has emerged, it is easy to distinguish between males and females. The predominant color is green with both sexes.
Males have violet eye rings while females have emerald green eye-rings. Males also have violet on their wings and buttocks and chickens have some yellow on their beaks.
When these birds are the first hatch and still very young, their beaks are pink in color and then turn beige as the individual matures.
These birds are very beautiful, and this combined with their intelligence and great personalities make them increasingly in demand as pets.
3. Mexican Parrotlet (Forpus Cyanopygius)
The Forpus Cyanopygius or Mexican Parrotlet comes, not surprisingly, from Mexico. They extend throughout western Mexico, the Gulf of Mexico, and on the slopes of the Sierra Madre and have adapted to diverse environments: tropical dry scrubland, subtropical scrubland, and along waterways.
In the wild, this species lives in large flocks of up to 50. Like the spectacled species, these parrotlets are predominantly green.
Males have multicolored blue wings and blue rumps.
This gives rise to its other names: The turquoise or Blue-rumped parrotlet.
Unlike other species, this one is proving difficult to breed. One reason is that individual birds only breed every one to two years.
There are two subspecies: Forpus C. Pallidus and Forpus C. Insularis.
4. Yellow-faced Parrotlet (Forpus Xanthops)
Yellow-faced parrotlet or F. Xanthops is among the species found in the pet trade. Small flocks of these birds live on the edges of tropical forests in Peru. Like Forpus Coelestis, this species faces degraded habitats and is also threatened by poaching.
They are the largest in the genus Forpus and are easy to identify thanks to the gray mark on the upper jaw. Males have purple rumps, blue or cobalt flight feathers (large wing feathers), and gray or blue eye markings.
They are not as easy to keep as some species since they require high levels of humidity (80%).
Breeding these Parrotlets is also very difficult in part because they mature later and require much larger cages.
These parrotlets are reputed to be loving and easier to handle. However, they are not easy to find, and, due to the difficulty of breeding them, they are expensive.
5. Green-rumped Parrotlet (Forpus Passerinus)
Greenback Parrotlet is native to northeast Brazil, Columbia, Venezuela, and the island of Trinidad. Forpus Passerinus lives in bushes and grazing lands. They also make use of abandoned bird and termite nests instead of building their own.
Males have a grass green or greyish green color on their heads and light blues and violets on their wings.
This species is the only one where males do not have blue rumps. The female are uniform in color (grass green) and lack blue feathers, but have a yellow triangle above their beaks.
There are four subspecies of this loving Parrotlet:
- Forpus P. Cyanophanes/Cynophanus
- Forpus P. Deliciosus
- Forpus P. Viridissimus
- Forpus P. Cyanochlorus
Each has slight differences in color or plumage that breeders and hobbyists use to differentiate them.
6. Blue-winged Parrotlet (Forpus Xanthopterygius Or Common))
This species is indigenous to the southeastern and central regions of South America. Natural habitats for this species include savannas, bushes, forests, and grasslands. These social birds congregate in groups of between 20 and 50.
The male of the species has cobalt feathers on its wings and violet rumps. What distinguishes this species is the lack of marks on the eyes and a larger eye.
The name common Parrotlet is not suitable for captivity and the pet trade. It is very difficult to locate pure Fopus Xanthopterygius or breeders that produce them.
In most cases, they have been crossed with Mexican parrotlets and green parrotlets. Pure samples are, in addition to rare, very expensive.
This species has no less than five distinct subspecies:
- Forpus X. Crassirostris
- Forpus X. Spengeli
- Forpus X. Flavissimus
- Forpus X. Flavescens
- Forpus X. Olallae
The most common species in the pet trade
Of those discussed above, the most popular in the pet trade are:
1. Celestial Parrotlet or Pacific
2. Mexican Parrotlet
3. Spectacled Parrotlet
4. Green-rumped Parrotlet
As with other things, including pets unfortunately, the various species go in and out of favor and fashion.