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Budgerigar colour genetics



 

The science of Budgerigar colour genetics deals with the heredity of colour variation in the feathers of the species known as Melopsittacus undulatus, commonly known as the 'Budgerigar Parakeet' or 'Budgie' for short.

Additional recommended knowledge

Contents

Background

The Wildtype (natural-coloured or wild occurring) Budgerigar Parakeet's colour is called Lightgreen. The feathers of most Parrot species, including Budgerigars, contain both a black type of melanin named eumelanin along with a basic yellow pigment named psittacofulvin (psittacin for short). Some other Parrot species produces a third pigment named advanced-psittacin which enables colours & tones ranging from oranges, peaches, pinks to reds. When these feathers are exposed to a white light source, such as sunlight, only the blue part of the spectrum is reflected by the eumelanin granules. This reflected blue light passes through the yellow pigment layer, resulting in the green colouration known as Lightgreen in only the Budgerigar Parakeet &/or Green in any other naturally green coloured Parrot species.

The many colour variations of Budgerigars, such as Albino, Blue, Cinnamon, Clearwinged, the various Fallows, Grey, Greygreen, Greywinged, Lutino, Mauve, Olive, Opaline, Spangled, Suffused, Violet... are the result of mutations that have occurred within specific genes. There are actually at least thirty-two known primary mutations established among Budgerigar Parakeets. These can combine to form hundreds of secondary mutations & colour varieties which may or may not be stable.

As is true with all animal species, colour mutations occur in captivity as do in the wild. This has been demonstrated when captive-bred Budgerigars have developed mutations that had only been previously recorded amongst wild populations.

Classification of mutations

Basic groups

Each of the thirty-two primary mutations belong to one of the four basic groups of mutations classified in parrot species genetics;

 

  • Albinism : where eumelanin is either partially or completely reduced in all body tissues & structures.
  • Dilution : where eumelanin is partially reduced in only feathering.
  • Leucism : where eumelanin is completely reduced from total or localized feathering.

Dominance relationship

These mutations are inherited through one of the following dominance relationships.

  • autosomal-Co-Dominant (A-Co-D),
  • autosomal-Complete-Dominant (A-C-D),
  • autosomal-Incomplete-Dominant (A-I-D),
  • autosomal-recessive (A-R),
  • autosomal-Poly-Genic (A-P-G)
  • Sex-Linked-recessive (S-L-R)

Table of primary mutations

Name & initials Common name(s) Type Locus Allelism &/or Symbolism Inheritance
Dark-Factor (D-F) Darkgreen (SF Darkgreen), Olive (DF Darkgreen), Cobalt (SF Dark_Blue) & Mauve (DF Dark_Blue) Structural Blue Loci D-Locus A-Co-D with only Blue Loci alleles, else exclusively/additionally A-I-D
Blue Skyblue Colour Blue Locus bl*bl A-Co-D with only Blue Loci alleles, else exclusively/additionally A-R
BlueII Yellowfaced_Blue type II Colour Blue Locus blII-Locus A-Co-D with only Blue Loci alleles, else exclusively/additionally A-R
Yellowfaced_Blue Yellowfaced_Blue type I Colour Blue Locus blII*yf A-Co-D with only Blue Loci alleles, else exclusively/inclusively A-R
Goldenfaced_Blue Australian Yellowfaced_Blue Colour Blue Locus blII*gf A-Co-D with only Blue Loci alleles, else exclusively/inclusively A-R
Crest-Factor (C-F) Circular Crested, Semicircular Crested & Tufted Structural Cr-Locus A-P-G
Grey-Factor (G-F) Dominant Greygreen & Grey... Structural G-Locus A-C-D
grey-factor English recessive greygreen & grey, Structural g-Locus A-R (extremely rare or extinct)
grey-factor Australian recessive greygreen & grey Structural ag-Locus A-R (extremely rare or extinct)
Slate Structural sl-Locus S-L-R
Violet-Factor (V-F) SF Violet Green, DF Violet Green, SF Violet Blue & DF Violet Blue (pure Violet) Structural V-Locus A-I-D
Suffused Diluted Green (Dilute Yellow) & Diluted Blue (Dilute White) Dilution Dil-Locus dil*dil A-Co-D with only dil-Locus alleles, else exclusively/inclusively A-R
Clearwinged (CW) Clearwinged Green (Yellowinged) & Clearwinged Blue (Whitewinged) Dilution Dil-Locus dil*cw A-Co-D with only dil-Locus alleles, else exclusively/inclusively A-R
Greywinged (GW) Greywinged Green & Greywinged Blue Dilution Dil-Locus dil*gw A-Co-D with only dil-Locus alleles, else exclusively/inclusively A-R
FullbodiedGreywinged (FBGW) FullbodiedGreywinged Green & FullbodiedGreywinged Blue Dilution Dil-Locus dil*cw / dil*gw A-Co-D (Hetero-Allelo-Morph mutation produced by crossing Clearwinged & Greywinged specimens with one another)
Anti-dimorphic (ADM) Pied (ADMpied) Danishpied, Recessivepied, Harlequin Local-Leucism s-Locus A-R
Piebald Australianpied &/or Bandedpied Local-Leucism Pb-Locus A-C-D
Piednape Continental_Dutchpied & Clearflighted_Dutchpied Local-Leucism Pi-Locus Pi*Pi & Pi*cf A-C-D
Dark-Eyed-Clear (DEC) aka Clear-Pied (CP) DEC Green (Dark-Eyed-Yellow) & DEC Blue (Dark-Eyed-White) Total Leucism s-Locus / Pi-Locus A-Co-D (unstable clear morph produced by visually combining ADMpied with either Continental_Dutchpied or Clearflighted_Dutchpied varieties)
Spangle-Factor (Sp) SF Spangled (showtype / typical mutation) & DF Spangled (clear white &/or clear yellow morphs) Total Leucism Sp-Locus A-I-D
NSLino Non-Sex-Linked Ino aka Recessive Ino NSL Complete Albinism a-Locus a*a A-R (extremely rare or extinct)
Bronzefallow Germanfallow NSL Incomplete Albinism a-Locus a*bz A-Co-D with only a-Locus alleles, else exclusively/inclusively A-R
Brown &/or Sepia Brownwinged NSL Incomplete Albinism b-Locus Presumed A-Co-D with only a-Locus alleles, else exclusively/inclusively A-R (extremely rare or extinct)
Faded NSL Incomplete Albinism fd-Locus A-R (extremely rare)
Beigefallow, Palebrownfallow & Palefallow Australianfallow NSL Incomplete Albinism pf-Locus A-R
Dunfallow, Greybrownfallow Englishfallow NSL Incomplete Albinism df-Locus A-R
Plumeyedfallow Scottishfallow NSL Incomplete Albinism pl-Locus A-R
Cinnamon (cin) Cinnamonwinged SL Incomplete Albinism cin-Locus S-L-R
Cinnamon-Ino aka LaceWinged (LW) LaceWinged Green (LaceWinged Yellow) & LaceWinged Blue (LaceWinged White) SL Incomplete Albinism cin-Locus S-L-R Cross-Over mutation occurring between Cinnamon & SL Ino Loci
SL Ino Sex-Linked Ino SL Complete Albinism ino-Locus ino*ino S-L-R
SL-Clearbodied (SLCB) Texas Clearbodied (TXCB) Partial-Albinistic (Parino) ino-Locus ino*cl SL-Co-D with only ino-Locus alleles, else exclusively/inclusively S-L-R
Blackfaced (BF) Melanism bf-Locus A-R
Darkwinged (DW) Modifier dw-Locus A-Co-D (only noticeably expressive in combination with dil-Locus alleles & most interestingly with Greywinged & Suffused)
Dominant Clearbodied (DCB) Easley's Clearbodied (ECB) Uncertain Cl-Locus A-C-D
Opaline (op) Pigment redistributing op-Locus S-L-R
Saddlebacked (SB) Local-Leucism sb-Locus A-R (extremely rare or extinct)

History

In the first few decades of the 1900s, especially in-between World War I and II, the keeping and breeding of the Budgerigar had become very popular all around the world. Consequently, various mutations occurred and were soon established during this period.

Time line

  • 1870-75 The very first registered sudden captive-bred colour mutations were Suffused Green (aka Dilute Yellow), Greywinged Green and either one of the two types of Lutino (NSLino &/or SLino) mutations. All three occurred in aviaries in Great Britain or Europe. Of these three mutations, only the Suffused Green (aka Dilute Yellow) has survived. The latter was easily reproduced in great numbers and is nowadays very well established. The first Lutino mutation quickly vanished but it was re-established in Europe some time between 1931 and 1933.
  • 1878-85 The Skyblue mutation suddenly occurred in continental Europe, most probably in Uccle, Belgium. Surprisingly, this variety was not imported in England until 1910.
  • 1915 Single-Factored Dark-Green (aka Dark-Green) in France.
  • 1916 Double-Factored Dark-Green (aka Olive) in France.
  • 1918-28 Respectively, Greywinged Green and Greywinged Blue appeared in England and continental Europe.
  • 1920
    • Crest-Factor in Australia.
    • Suffused Blue (aka Dilute White) in England and France.
    • Single-Factored Dark_Blue (aka Cobalt) in France.
  • 1921 Double-Factored Dark_Blue (aka Mauve) in France.
  • 1930
    • Single-Factored Violet-Green (aka Violet Factor) in Australia.
    • The first Clearwinged Green (Yellowinged) appeared, developed by H. Pier in Sydney.
  • 1931
    • Cinnamon in England, Australia & Germany.
    • An unknown type of Fallow in California, U.S.A. This soon vanished.
    • The Germanfallow in Germany, recently been genetically classified and identified as the Bronzefallow (aka Brownfallow).
    • A plum-eyed mutation, similar looking to Fallow mutations, occurred in England. This vanished or at least became very rare. This mutation was most probably the Brownwings, one of the rarest colour mutations of the species.
    • The first Albino specimens were produced in both England and continental Europe.
  • 1932
    • Three Fallow mutations occurred in England which became known as the Englishfallow. In Australia these have been genetically classified and identified as the Dunfallow or Greybrownfallow (aka Australianfallow). The Beigefallow or Palebrownfallow has been classified in South-Africa, but no reference seems to be available on this particular mutation.
    • The recessive Anti-dimorphic Pied (aka Danish Pied aka Harlequin) in Denmark.
    • The Australian (aka Banded) Pied in Australia.
  • 1933
    • Green Clearwinged (aka Yellow Wing) and Dominant Grey-Factor appear in Australia.
    • Both the NSL & the SL Lutino gene occurred in England and continental Europe.
    • Three Opaline mutations occurred. An Opaline Green hen was captured in the wild and sold to S. Terril in Adelaide. It was later-on reproduced and is most probably the ancestor of all Opaline specimens in Australia. Two sudden captive-bred Opaline mutations occurred in England and Holland.
  • 1934 Recessive grey factor in England.
  • 1935 The various Yellowfaced_Blue and Goldenfaced_Blue occurred in several locations.
  • 1939-46 Clearflighted_Dutchpied in Belgium.
  • 1948
    • Texas Clearbodied (aka SL-Clearbody) in the U.S.A.
    • Dominant Clearbodied (aka Easley's Clearbodied) in the U.S.A.
    • The first Cinnamon-Ino (aka Lacewings) cross-over mutation was produced in Australia.
    • The first Dark-Eyed-Clear (DEC) variety was produced in Belgium by combining the ADM Pied (aka Danish/Recessive pied) with either one of the two Dutchpied varieties (Continental or Clearflighted).
  • 1970-74 Single-Factored and Double-Factored Spangled specimens were produced in Australia.
  • 1975 Saddleback specimens were produced in Australia.

Notes

It is probable that the Greywings mutation survived as the ancestor of all actual Greywings. However, it is possible that the mutation laid dormant in asymptomatic mutant specimens until it was re-established between 1918 and 1925. Blue Greywing specimens were produced later on in 1928.

It is very likely that all Suffused mutation specimens and their varieties are descendants from the first captive mutant specimens. This means that Suffused is the oldest sudden captive-bred colour mutation of the Budgerigar species.

References

    • Martin, Terry (2002). A Guide To Colour Mutations and Genetics in Parrots. ABK Publications. ISBN 0957702469. 
    • Hayward, Jim (1992). The Manual of Colour Breeding. The Aviculturist Publications. ISBN 0951909800. 
    • World Budgerigar Organization's Colour Standards
    • Down Under Aviary's Genetics page
    • Budgerigar Galore's Genetics Articles
     
    This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Budgerigar_colour_genetics". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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