Chimera Eclectus parrot

By Sally Blanchard

 A chimera is an animal with characteristics of both genders or different DNA (or in mythology, one that has the characteristics of different species such as a fire-breathing combination of snake, lion, and goat.)  With most species (including humans) it is difficult to visually identify a chimera. Some chimeras could also be called hermaphrodites in that the single animal has characteristics of both genders. However, since the genders of most parrots are monomorphic (meaning the male and female are usually similar) chimeras in most parrots may remain unknown. However because Eclectus are sexually dimorphic (the male and female have obvious differences in their external characteristics) an Eclectus chimera, although very rare, is obvious. The Eclectus shown has female characteristics on one half and male characteristics of the other. 


Several years ago I had access to the U.C. Berkeley Library. I found a lot of intriguing and interesting information about both parrots and wild birds. There were some periodicals from the late 1800s and the early 1900s. I found an issue of an Avicultural Magazine from that time that had a short article about the "first American breeding" of the African grey. It was one really weird article and described a man named Gilbert Lee who had purchased African greys from a shipment from Africa in 1903. He put 17 greys into a dark barn loft. There only food and liquid source was a once a week sheep's head that he threw in without any contact with the birds. Three years after adding the greys to the barn, he opened it up and found that there were 54 greys and 11 skeletons. So there were 48 birds born in that barn in 3 years. This was part one of the article and I have never found the issue with Part II so I can't report any further on this absurd story of breeding success.




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