Tuesday, August 31, 2010

What about "red budgerigars" ?

A red budgie, the dream of every budgie breeder

The answer is very clear:

If you try to breed red budgies, you will go mad. The picture above is a fake, it is not possible to produce a red budgerigar.

I've read that some breeders who tried this occasionally got a single red feather, or a budgie that looks a little pink (mostly due to being on certain products like pink coloured mineral blocks) . But it's simply not possible to get red out of a colour chart like this:

Budgerigar Colour and Markings Chart (Image from the Budgerigar Council of Tasmania)

These birds are red and some of them look like budgies, but they're not:

Left: Rubino Rosella
Middle: Bourke Parakeet
Right: Red Canary

A word of advice: it's best to just let budgies choose whoever they want and let nature go its own way. Don't paint them or try other dangerous things in order to get a red budgie, because it's not possible and you're just going to make your budgie unhappy and sick.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Colours & Mutations (7)

Some very rare budgie mutations

  • Anthracite (black budgies)

The anthracite budgie has a very, very dark grey or black body colour. All markings are normal, except for the cheek patches, which are also black. The darkening effect of a single factor anthracite budgie is similar to what a single dark factor does. A budgie that is double factor anthracite appears as the true anthracite variety with the black body colour.

Left: the anthracite budgie has a very dark body colour and black cheek patches.
Right: This yellow-faced blue budgie has the standard blue cheek patches.

  • Blackface

Blackface is a new mutation that produces a budgie with a striping pattern that runs over his whole body. This mutation also causes a darkening of the body feather colour. These budgies are extremely rare and not known to be kept anywhere else than in the Netherlands.

Two blackface budgies (photos from tailfeathersnetwork.com)

  • Mottled

A mottled budgie looks like a normal budgie when it hatches. But after every molt, more and more feathers grow back as clear feathers, forming a colour pattern that looks much more random than a pied budgie. Some mottled budgies eventually become all clear.

Mottled budgies: they look a bit fluffy, which is really sweet. Notice the random colour pattern (photos: budgieplace.com)

  • Lacewing

A lacewing is in fact a combination of a lutino/albino and a cinnamon. The budgie is either mostly yellow or mostly white, the body feather colour is only slightly visible. The budgie's markings are of a light cinnamon colour and the cheek patches are violet. A lacewing has red/pink eyes. The adult male has purple ceres, while the female keeps the normal white, brown or tan ceres.

Photo: a lacewing budgie, almost entirely white, but the blue body feather colour is slightly visible on its belly.

  • Half-Sider

This budgie looks very astonishing but it is not a true variety, because the trait is not genetically inherited. It is actually a result of genetic abnormalities, a form of congenital chimerism, in which fraternal twin zygotes fuse together at a very early stage in the womb, forming one individual creature.

Half-sider budgie: extremely rare. (Photos from budgieplace.com)

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Colours & Mutations (6)

I saved these budgies for last: the rare and unique colour and pattern mutations. You won't see these kinds in a pet store, only in budgie exhibitions.

  • Crested

In this variety, the feathers on top of the budgie's head point awry, forming a crest.
There are three types of crested budgies: full-circular crest, half-circular crest and the tufted crest.

Left: full-circular crest: the head feathers form a full circle from the central point of the head.
Middle: half-circular crest: the head feathers
radiate halfway or partway around the head.
Right: tufted crest: the head feathers point up and/or backwards, forming
a tuft.

  • Fallow

This is also a very special budgie variety. A fallow budgie's body colour is mostly diluted, but you can still see it on the rump. They have pink/red irises and a brownish striping pattern. Adult males have purple ceres while females keep the normal white, tan or brown ceres.

Blue fallow budgies: the body feathers are diluted, but the blue colour is visible on the rump.

  • Saddleback

Saddleback budgies have very thin grey markings on the head and the neck. The area between the shoulders and the top of the wings (V-shaped) has almost no markings, leaving a clear "saddle" behind. Saddleback budgies look a lot like the Opaline variety, but Opalines have black markings in stead of grey markings. Also, the background colour of the wings and back of an Opaline budgie are identical to the budgie's body colour whereas saddlebacks have only the base colour in those places (white or yellow).

Two saddleback budgies: soft grey markings on the upper half of the wings, V-shaped yellow or white are
a between the neck and top of the wings.

  • Texas Clearbody

The standard for the Texas Clearbody is to have no colour in the body feathers except for the base colour yellow or white. There can be some degree of colour, though, if the body feather colour is diluted. In that case, the body colour is visible near toward the rump feathers. The wing markings are black but fade to grey toward the tip of the wings.

o Texas Clearbody budgies: the one on the right has colour dilution up to 50%, but the body feather colour is clearly visible near the rump and tail.

  • Slate

Just like grey and violet, slate is a colour-adding factor. Slate produces a dark bluish grey, which varies slightly according to the dark factor of the budgie. It can be present in a green budgie, but will only produce a darkening effect. The true slate appears only on white-based budgies and this variety is extremely rare.

Slate budgies have a dark grey-blue colour. Photos: budgieplace.com

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Colours & Mutations (5)

What are pied mutations?

Pied markings basically means that areas of colours are missing on a budgie, leaving a clear patch of white or yellow. Depending on the intensity of these markings, your budgie either has a few white or yellow patches, or ends up being nearly all white or yellow.

  • Dominant pied
Dominant pied budgies have pied markings on their wings and body, and may also have a clear patch on their head . Double-factor dominant pied budgies are a bit different because they have very little markings, so they get easily confused with recessive pied budgies. You can tell them apart by checking the irises. Dominant pied budgies' eyes turn light with maturity, while recessive pied budgies have dark eyes all their life.

Photo above: dominant pied (birdaday.com)

  • Recessive pied

Recessive budgies usually have mostly clear feathers, so that the base colour yellow or white remains. In general, you can find a patch of original body colour near the lower part of the belly. Adult male budgies of the recessive pied variation have purple ceres. Females have the normal white, tan or brown ceres.

The difference between a recessive pied and a double-factor dominant pied is very subtle. The best way to find out is to check their irises (the budgie on the left is recessive pied since it has solid dark eyes) or you can look at the bottom of their belly - the one on the left also has a patch of the original body colour, which is typical for recessive pied budgies.

  • Clearflight pied

Clearflight pied budgies look a lot like other pied budgies. The distinguishing features here are the clear primary wing feathers and long tail feathers. These will either be yellow or white (base colours). Usually, a clearflight pied will also have some small patches of clear feathers around the neck and head.

Here is a beautiful example of a clearflight pied budgie. This one has not so many pied markings, but the primary wing feathers and tail are entirely white which makes the bird even more extraordinary. Photo from budgie-info.com

  • Dark-eyed clear

If you combine recessive pied and clearflight pied together, you get a dark-eyed clear budgie. With these two mutations present, the budgie has no markings nor colour. If it's a yellow-based budgie, it will be yellow, and if it's white-based, it will be white. Their eyes never grow lighter with age, hence the name dark-eye. It's easy to confuse these budgies with the lutino/albino or double-factor spangle budgies, but none of these have eyes that remain dark all their life. Adult male dark-eyed clear budgies have purple ceres and females have normal white, tan or brown ceres.

Both of these budgies look almost exactly like albino/lutino budgies, but they have dark eyes.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Colours & Mutations (4)

  • Opaline

Opaline is not a colour in particular, but a striping pattern mutation. It reverses the striping pattern on the head feathers so that there are more white areas instead of black stripes. The colour of the body feathers is visible under the striping pattern on the neck and runs all the way down to the wing feathers.

Blue opaline budgie: notice how thin the black striping pattern is on the head feathers
(photo: talkbudgies.com)

  • Spangle

Opaline budgies have reversed head markings. Spangle budgies have reversed markings on their wings and tail. Normally, you can see a black striping pattern with white edges, but spangle makes the wing and tail feathers almost entirely clear. Unlike opaline, spangle doesn't cause the colour of the body feathers to spread throughout the neck- and wingfeathers.
There is a possibility, though, that your budgie can be both opaline and spangle. These budgies are actually common and have a unique striping pattern.

Left: Spangle opaline budgie, with reversed markings and colours spread out all over

Right: This is a single factor spangle budgie (a budgie that is also opaline will have a pattern of colours through the wings)

Spangle has three forms (just like dark factor - cf Colour Guide (1)) : non-spangle, single factor spangle and double factor spangle.

A double-factor spangle budgie is all clear (because the markings are so thin that it looks like they have been mixed with the body feather colour) - except for the basic colour yellow or white.

  • Cinnamon

Cinnamon is a special striping colour mutation: it causes the normally black markings of the head and wings to turn brown. This mutation doesn't really affect the budgie's colour, but might give their feathers a faint cinnamon tint - a warm, lovely brown shade.

Thursday, August 26, 2010


Photo: http://babahogs.blogspot.com/2009/04/budgie-breeding_30.html

To take a short break from the colour schemes, I will give you some other budgie facts:

The female budgie lays her eggs one at a time and this happens during a period of one to two days. The number of eggs varies between four and eight!
The first egg will generally hatch after eighteen days, and each chick will hatch in the order the eggs were laid. During the first few days, the mother budgie will spend all her time sitting on her baby budgies to keep them warm.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Colours & Mutations (3)

  • Yellow-faced

All budgies are either yellow-based or white-based (see budgie colour guide pt 1). There are also the so-called yellow-faced budgies, something in between those two kinds. Visually, there are two types of yellow-faced budgies:
  1. The mask feathers of type 1 yellow-faced budgies are all yellow and the yellow colour may also be visible in the tail feathers. The budgie is normally coloured in the body feathers.
  2. Just like type one, these budgies have yellow mask feathers and tail feathers. But after the first three months of their life, something special happens: the yellow colour diffuses into the body feathers and creates a new colour, depending on the original colour of the budgie. A sky blue budgie for example, gets a seafoam green colour (which I think is really pretty).

Left: a sky blue budgie with yellow-face type 1. The colour of the body feather remains blue.
Right: a sky blue budgie with yellow-face type 2. The colour of the body
feathers is bluish green.

  • Lutino / albino

Lutino and albino are in fact different names for the same variety. Lutinos are yellow-based budgies and albinos are white-based budgies. Typical for these budgies is the red eye colour and the fact that all the colours and markings are effectively erased. Only the basic colours yellow and white remain.The cere of the male adult lutino / albino budgie is, unlike for other budgies, purple. Adult females have normal white or brown ceres.

Left: a lutino male with purple ceres.
Right: an albino male with purple ceres (notice the vague red eyecolour

More information: Budgie / Parakeet Colors and Mutations Guide

Monday, August 23, 2010

Colours & Mutations (2)

What colour is your budgie ?

  • Grey Factor
If a budgie has a grey factor, the colour grey will dominate the underlying colour. Yellow-based budgies will be green-grey and white-based budgies will be grey-coloured. (to find out what yellow-based and white-based means, check my last post)

Photo on the right: a white-based budgie with grey factor

  • Violet Factor
The violet factor is also a colour-adding factor, but not as strong as
the grey factor. The violet factor is hard to detect, especially on yellow-based budgies.
If you look closely though, you may see a violet tinge on the body feathers around the feet and vent (budgie's poophole). True violet colour only shows up in sky blue budgies with one dark factor (cobalt blue budgies). If they carry the violet factor, they will also have a violet tinge in the body feathers near the feet.

photo: a cobalt blue budgie with violet factor or double factor (dark factor + violet factor) in sky blue budgie

  • Dilution (colour is washed out)
In addition to dark factor, budgies can also have some degree of dilution. There are four types of dilution:
  1. greywing budgies have grey markings on their head and wings (normal budgies have black markings there) + the body feather colour is about 50% diluted.
  2. Full-body-colour greywing budgies have the same markings as normal greywing budgies, but their body feathers have a brighter colour.
  3. Clearwing budgies have very light or no markings at all on their head and wings, and the body feathers are brighter.
  4. Dilute budgies are washed out from head to toe. The head and wing markings are barely visible and the body colour is 80% diluted.
Some pictures to make it more simple ;)

from left to right: greywing, full-body-colour greywing, clearwing and dilute

More details and information: budgie/parakeet colors and mutation guide

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Colours & Mutations (1)

Erlend told me he is curious about all the colours that a budgie can have, so I looked it up for him :)

There are not only colouration mutations, but also budgies with different kinds of striping patterns, and extremely rare variations. I'll summarize them in a few posts. This is the first one:

Colouration mutations

  • The wild budgerigar
The original wild budgerigar is yellow-based with a blue feather structure in the body feathers (the feathers located at the breast and belly area). This results in the classic green colouration of the wild budgie (yellow and blue makes green). The striping pattern on the head and wings are also of the normal type.

  • Base Colour
All budgies are categorized into one of two basic varieties: yellow-base or white-base.

A yellow-based budgie results in the classic green variety (the wild bugerigar) and a white-based budgie results in the common blue variety (picture on the left). You can see the base colours in the mask feathers (area above beak and ceres and also to the left and right of the beak) and between the black stripes of the head and the wings.

  • Dark Factor
All budgies have a level of "dark factor", going from no dark factor to two dark factors.
Dark factor basically is the same as the level of darkness in the blue feather structure in the body feathers. Wild budgies have no dark factor, so they are light green. One dark factor in a green (yellow-based) budgie results in a dark green colour.

This budgie has dark factor 1, unlike his ancestors from the wild

Two dark factors in a green budgie result in the "olive variety" '(see picture below)

The same goes for white-based budgies:

Left: Blue budgie with no dark factor = Sky Blue Budgie.
Middle: Blue budgie with one dark factor = Cobalt Budgie.
Right: Blue budgie with two dark factors: Mauve Budgie.

That is a lot of colours and information... and it's only the beginning! For more details, go to http://www.budgieplace.com/colorsguide.html