Canary-parakeet hybrids

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EUGENE M. MCCARTHY, PHD GENETICS

     
Neophema pulchella Turquoisine Parakeet
Neophema pulchella Image: Wikimedia, Stephen Jones

Neophema pulchella Domestic Canary
Serinus domesticus Image: Wikimedia, Quadell

Note: It has been my policy in listing reports of hybrids to include all serious allegations, especially those of scholars, whether or not the hybrid alleged seems possible or likely to me. This policy, I think, helps to eliminate subjective judgment on my part, and therefore should remove at least one source of systematic bias from my work. It also helps to fulfill the ethical obligation of telling not just the truth, but the whole truth.

Note: This cross, which would be interordinal (Psittaciformes × Passeriformes), requires additional confirmation.

Paul Broca (1824-1880), the French physician, anatomist, and anthropologist who first discovered the region of brain governing speech (Broca’s area), also made a study of avian hybrids. In a lengthy article on hybridization in birds, he states the following (Broca 1859, p. 224):

A parrot in M. Delon’s aviary, though mated already to a male of her species, fell madly in love with a canary and committed many adulteries with him. In the midst of this love affair with the canary, the parrot began to lay eggs. Among them, one different from the others was observed, which somewhat resembled a canary egg. From it emerged a strange bird, having the beak and head of the mother, the body covered with yellow feathers, the tail, yellow and very short like a canary’s, three digits pointing forward [as in canaries, not parrots], the thumb alone directed backward, as in canaries [and not parrots]. The animal lived for two and a half years, but did not mate; its wings remained so short that it never could fly. M. Delon showed this prodigy to many credible persons, among whom I would mention my friend and colleague, M. [Joachim] Moissenet, a doctor at the hospital Lariboisière. Although convinced beforehand that it was a monstrosity, not a hybrid, I asked to see this curious creature. But before I could, a weasel got into the aviary, and the alleged parrot-canary hybrid was among the victims. The parrot in question was of the species Psittacus pulchellus [a synonym of Neophema pulchella. Translated by E.M. McCarthy. Original French]
Budgerigars
Budgerigars

Tomlinson, quoted in Prestwich (1949c, p. 56), reports a similar hybrid, an alleged cross between a domestic canary and a budgerigar (Melopsittacus undulatus). He states the following with regard to a Nov. 1935 meeting of an ornithological group in southern California: “A Mr. Stone showed a bird which he claims is a cross between a canary and a Shell Parrakeet. The bird looks like a good sized green canary with the back and wings streaked with almost a buff, tail long and narrow, head and beak like the parrakeet with the heavy curved upper mandible. Of course, this is very hard to believe as the canary is of the Fringillidae family while the Parrakeet is of the Psittacine family.”

Indeed, Tomlinson understates the disparity between the parents alleged in this cross (and in the cross described by Broca above). It would be interordinal, not interfamilial, since parrots and parakeets belong to Order Psittaciformes while canaries are assigned to Order Passeriformes. However, a taxonomic arrangement recently proposed by Suh et al. (“Mesozoic retroposons reveal parrots as the closest living relatives of passerine birds,” 2011) does group these two orders together under the name “Psittacopasserae.”

Another avian interordinal cross >>

Bibliography >>

Internet citations >>

Online Biology Dictionary >>

Canary-parakeet hybrids - © Macroevolution.net

By the same author: Handbook of Avian Hybrids of the World, Oxford University Press (2006).


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