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A Panama Surprise - Part 2: The Parrots

Updated: Mar 17

The incredible collection of Jacobo Lacs


Text and photos by Simon Degenhard


Following on from my piece on the incredible softbill collection maintained by Mr Jacobo Lacs, I will now move focus to the amazing array of parrots that also call this bird lovers paradise home.


Although softbills have really captured Jaco’s heart in recent years, his collection is also home to an astonishing assortment of parrots; one that I would be prepared to say is undoubtedly among the best in the world. Species from Central and South America dominate, however numerous parrots from other corners of the globe are also represented.


Walking through the numerous banks of suspended aviaries I saw many species and subspecies that I was not familiar with, and subsequently I was constantly turning to Jaco or my traveling companion, Tony Silva, to seek the answer as to what they were! So comprehensive is the collection, that Tony was even drawn to remark that he was seeing some of the species and subspecies in aviaries for the first time.


When asked about his success with the parrots in his collection Jaco remarked that he considers his greatest achievement to be his world first breeding of the Blue-headed Macaw Ara couloni in 1998. The Blue-headed Macaw is, when compared to most other macaws, relatively new to aviculture and for sometime it proved somewhat of a challenge to breed, however since that first breeding in 1998 they have been regular breeders within the collection.


Jaco is also very proud to have been the first to breed the lutino mutation of the Orange-chinned Parakeet Brotogeris jugularis, a mutation that he has also since managed to establish. Incidentally, being a native to Panama I was lucky enough to see Orange-chinned Parakeets in the wild as well as in the aviaries.


Another very notable achievement is the successful breeding of the Short-tailed Parrot Graydidascalus brachyurus, a species that is very rarely seen, let alone bred in captivity. Achieving consistent success with this species has proved difficult to say the least, however Jaco has done just that and is understandably very proud of this fact.


As previously mentioned, the parrot collection is astonishingly comprehensive and consists of well over 100 species and subspecies – a figure that would be hard to match, let alone surpass the world over!


Some interesting and beautiful mutations are also represented, including lutino Blue-fronted Amazons Amazona aestiva, blue Yellow-naped Amazons Amazona auropalliata, lutino Red-lored Amazons Amazona autumnalis, blue Black-headed Caiques Pionites melanocephalus, lutino Double-eyed Fig Parrots Cyclopsitta diophthalma, blue Eclectus Parrots Eclectus roratus solomonensis and blue and cinnamon Orange-chinned Parakeets Brotogeris jugularis to name but a few!


All members of the pionus genus are present within the collection, many of which are very rare in aviculture. It was wonderful to see species such as the Plum-crowned Parrot Pionus tumultuosus, Red-billed Parrot Pionus sordidus and the White-capped Parrot Pionus seniloides during my visit.


Future ambitions include establishing the Brown-hooded Parrot Pionopsitta haematotis in captivity. This species is practically unheard of in aviculture and it has proven very difficult to keep successfully and as such its future in aviculture is very precarious to say the least. They are very delicate and infestation by clostridium in the intestines is a major health concern with this species; Jaco has devoted a great deal of time and effort to developing a vaccine to combat this. He also believes that providing the correct diet is imperative to achieving success with this species and added at the time of my visit that he was yet to completely satisfy their needs in this regard. A great deal more work is required if there is to be any chance of securing the future of this species in aviculture.


Another species that Jaco would like to see established in aviculture is the Blue-fronted Parrotlet Touit dilectissima. They have also presented a great challenge when it comes to successfully keeping them and have subsequently remained virtually non-existent in captivity. Infestation by clostridium in the intestines is also major health concern with this species and it is hoped that, once developed, the vaccine will also work with them. Jaco again believes that diet is a major concern with this species and hopes that this aspect of their husbandry can be conquered sooner rather than later. To date they have proven to be a very delicate species in captivity. Jaco feels that it very important that further research be carried out on this species in order to be able to overcome the obstacles faced when keeping them. He also feels that it is imperative that more people are made aware of the plight of these fascinating little parrots. This species is unfortunately also in serious decline in the wild, where it faces huge adversity due primarily to loss of habitat.


Yet another challenging species that is present in the collection is the Pileated Parrot Pionopsitta pileata. This species is particularly rare in aviculture the world over and Jaco is hoping to firmly establish them at his facility.


Other rare and/or intriguing species that call this facility home include Blue-bellied Parrots Triclaria malachitacea, Horned Parakeets Eunymphicus cornutus, Vasa Parrots Coracopsis vasa and the very seldom seen Brazilian subspecies of the Hawk-headed Parrot Deroptyus accipitrinus fuscifrons.


The collection not only features some of aviculture’s extreme rarities, it is also home to many more common, but nonetheless beautiful species, ranging from numerous large and small macaws, countless conures, an amazing array of amazon parrots, caiques, lovebirds and not to mention a Galah Eolophus roseicapilla or two!


As touched on in part 1 of “ A Panama Surprise”, numerous other non-avian species also call this amazing collection home, some of which can be seen in the accompanying photos. Despite the lack of feathers, I feel that they are most definitely interesting enough to warrant inclusion.


Having had the pleasure and privilege to visit many of the top collections in the world, I feel that I can confidently say that Jaco maintains one of the best parrot collections in existence, along with a softbill collection to rival any on the planet and when combined I can assure you that it is all but unrivalled in terms of the number and variety of different species kept and bred. It is truly an amazing collection and one that I cannot wait to visit again!


A huge thank you goes out to Jaco for allowing me to not only spend 3 glorious days viewing his magnificent collection, but for also allowing me to share my experience with you all.



Lutino Orange-chinned Parakeet Brotogeris jugularis - Jaco was the first to breed this mutation and has since been successful in establishing it


Argentinean subspecies of the White-eared Conure Pyrrhura leucotis


Costa Rica Mealy Amazon Amazona farinosa virenticeps


Female Blue-bellied Parrot Triclaria malachitacea


Male Blue-bellied Parrot


Maximilian's Pionus Pionus maximiliani - Bolivian subspecies


Mealy Amazon Amazona farinosa inornata - a subspecies found in the Panamanian province of Darién


Mitred Conure Aratinga mitrata


Jaco holding a Cuban Conure Aratinga euops chick


Orange-chinned Parakeet Brotogeris jugularis


The Brown-hooded Parrot Pyrilia haematotis formally Pionopsitta haematotis


The Greater Vasa Parrot Coracopsis vasa from Madagascar and the Comoros


The highly endangered Red-browed Amazon Amazona rhodocorytha


The Tui Parakeet Brotogeris sanctithomae


Mutation Red-masked Conure Aratinga erythrogenys


Brazilian Hawk-Headed Parrot Deroptyus accipitrinus fuscifrons


Dusky Pionus Pionus fuscus


Chapman's Mealy Amazon Amazona farinosa chapmani - this subspecies from Loreto Peru is much larger than other subspecies of the Mealy Amazon


Short-tailed Parrot Graydidascalus brachyurus


Bronze-winged Pionus Pionus chalcopterus


White-crowned Pionus Pionus senilis


Blue-cheeked Amazon Amazona dufresniana


Red-lored Amazon Amazona autumnalis


Red-tailed Amazon Amazona brasiliensis


Blue mutation Yellow-naped Amazon


Orange-winged Amazon Amazona amazonica


Brown-throated Conure Aratinga pertinax pertinax


Cuban Conure Aratinga euops - a species that is seldom seen in aviculture


Red-masked Conure Aratinga erythrogenys - normal and Orange-headed mutation


Blue mutation Black-headed Caique


Cuban Amazon Amazona leucocephala


Lutino mutation Blue-fronted Amazon


The Yellow-faced Parrot Alipiopsitta xanthops


Lilac-crowned Amazon Amazona finschi


Blue-headed Macaw Primolius couloni


Blue-headed Pionus Pionus menstruus


Plum-crowned Pionus Pionus tumultuosus



Red-bellied Macaw Orthopsittaca manilata


Blue mutation Orange-chinned Parakeet


Some of the many suspended aviaries - these ones house large macaws



Lilacine Amazon Amazona autumnalis lilacina


Yellow-headed Amazon Amazona oratrix oratrix



Central American Squirrel Monkey Saimiri oerstedii


The Oncilla Leopardus tigrinus, also known as the little spotted cat, is a small spotted felid. In Panama they inhabit the cloud forests of the Amistad National Park at around 3000m above sea level


The Margay Leopardus wiedii, a spotted cat native to the Americas


Jaguar Panthera onca


Blue mutation Orange-chinned Parakeet


Cinnamon mutation Orange-chinned Parakeet


Lutino mutation Dusky-headed Conure


Orange-headed mutation of the Red-masked Conure

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