Budgie Parakeet Colors, Varieties, Mutations, Genetics

Posted: November 24, 2017 at 6:40 am

Budgie parakeets come in so many colors and mutations they remind me of jellybeans! These birds are part of our family flock.

Original Australian wild type green budgerigar parakeet

In the wild, Budgie Parakeets are green with yellow, with black stripes and markings, and dark blue-green-black flight and tail feathers. Captive breeding programs, however, have produced Budgies in almost every color of the rainbow, except red and pink. They are so colorful, they remind me of jellybeans!

All captive budgerigars are divided into two basic series of colors: white-based (includes skyblue, cobalt, mauve, gray, violet, and white) and yellow-based (includes light-green, dark-green, gray-green, olive, and yellow). Green (yellow base) is dominant and blue (white base) is recessive.There are at least 32 primary mutations in the budgerigar, enabling hundreds of possible secondary mutations and color varieties!

One of my all time personal favorite mutation combinations is pictured below I call it a Rainbow Spangle. Toto, a budgie raised by us, is a yellow-face type 2 sky-blue opaline spangle.

A combination of several mutations, I call this a Rainbow Spangle.

Green (yellow base) is dominant and blue (white base) is recessive.

There are 3 color variations for both the white base colorand the yellow base color. In the yellow base color, the dark factor genes make these color variations:

Yellow Base Color:0 dark factors = light green1 dark factors = dark green2 dark factors = olive

Mutations like Lutinos and Double-Factor Spangles still have dark factors but they are not seen visually.

Lutino

Light-Green (additional mutations present: Opaline, Spangle)

Dark-Green

Dark Factor budgie parakeet breeding punnett square

Blue (white base) is recessive to green (yellow base).

There are 3 color variations for both the white (blue) series and the yellow (green) series birds. In the white series, the dark factor genes make these color variations:

White (blue) series:0 dark factors = skyblue1 dark factors = cobalt2 dark factors = mauve

Albinos and Double-Factor Spangles still have dark factors but they are not seen visually.

Albino

Skyblue (other mutation present: Cinnamon-Wing)

Cobalt(other mutation present:Yellowface type 1)

The violet factor affects both white-based (blue) and yellow-based (green) colors.

Violet (other mutation present: Sky-blue, Greywing)

Violet (other mutations present: Sky-blue, Opaline, Spangle)

Violet (other mutations present: Cobalt)

Violet Factor budgie parakeet breeding punnett square

The gray factor affects both white-based (blue) and yellow-based (green) colors.

Gray normal English x American budgie

Gray yellowface spangle budgie parakeet

Gray-green opaline baby English Budgie

Gray factor budgie parakeet breeding punnett square

In addition to a dark factor, budgies may also have a degree of dilution. There are four types of dilution: Greywing, Full-Body-Color Greywing, Clearwing, and Dilute.

Dilute blue opaline American parakeet

When a budgie has two of the recessive Dilute genes, its markings and color are about 70% washed out when compared to a normal.

Greywing blue American Parakeet

Greywing light-green American parakeet

A homozygous Greywing (or a Greywing budgie with the recessive Dilute gene) has gray wing markings and a 50% diluted body color.

Full-Body-Color Greywing light green American parakeet

When a budgie has both the Greywing and Clearwing gene, it is a Full-Body-Color Greywing with grey wing markings and bright body color.

Clearwing dark green American parakeet

A homozygous Clearwing (or a Clearwing budgie with the recessive Dilute gene) has less pigment in the wings, causing very light markings, and more pigment in the body feathers, causing a bright body color.

Normal = dominantGreywing = recessive, co-dominant with clearwingClearwing = recessive, co-dominant with greywingDilute= recessive

normal + normal = normalnormal + greywing = normal split for greywingnormal + clearwing = normal split for clearwingnormal + dilute = normal split for dilutegreywing + greywing = greywinggreywing + clearwing = full body color greywinggreywing + dilute = greywing split for diluteclearwing + clearwing = clearwingclearwing + dilute = clearwing split for dilutedilute + dilute = dilute

Two full body color greywings =50% full body color greywing25% greywing25% clearwing

Dilute budgie parakeet breeding punnet square

Lutino American parakeet (solid yellow with red/pink eyes)

Albino American parakeet (solid white with red/pink eyes)

The ino gene removes all the melanin (the substance that creates all the dark colors) removed, so a blue series budgie becomes white (Albino) and a green series one become yellow (Lutino). The gene also removes the dark shade from the skin and beak leaving them with pink legs and an orange beak. The dark color of the eye is also gone leaving a red eye with a white iris ring, and the cheek patches are silvery white. It removes the blue shade from the cocks cere too so hell have a pink/purple colored cere; the hens cere is the usual white to brown shade. Because usually only the white and yellow colors are left, an ino can hide the fact that it also has other varieties present genetically. The only varieties that show are the yellow faces or golden faces and they are only obvious on an albino budgie.

The ino gene is sex-linked and recesssive:

ino x ino =100% ino

ino cock x normal hen =50% normal split for ino cocks50% ino hens

normal cock x ino hen =50% normal split for ino cocks50% normal hens

normal split for ino cock x normal hen =25% normal cocks25% normal split for ino cocks25% ino hens25% normal hens

Albino / Lutino / Ino budgie parakeet breeding punnett square

Yellowface type 1 blue English budgie

Yellow face gray dominant pied English budgie

Yellowface budgies are in between yellow-based budgies and white-based budgies and the genetics are complicated. There are different degrees of the level of yellow pigment but it is less than the yellow-based variety. The double factor birds contain less yellow than single factor birds. The Yellowface mutation is possible in all of the blue series birds, including Albinos, Dark-Eyed Clears, Grays, Violets and in all their three depths of shade (ie. Skyblue, Cobalt, Mauve). Green series birds can mask a Yellowface character, and they can carry both Yellowface and Blue splits at the same time. Visually, there are two types of Yellowface: Type 1 and Type 2:

Yellowface type 1 skyblue single-factor violet clearflight pied opaline American parakeet

In Type 1, the yellow is confined to the mask feathers, plus maybe the peripheral tail feathers, only. The body feathers are normally colored.

Yellowface type 2 skyblue Greywing American Parakeet. The Yellowface type 2 mutation bleeds down into the blue body color, creating a seafoam-green effect.

Yellow face type 2 American parakeet. With the YF 2 mutation, the yellow spreads into the blue body color to create turquoise.

Type 2 Yellowface budgies have yellow in the mask feathers and tail, just like the Type 1. However, after the first molt at around 3 months of age, the yellow diffuses into the body color and creates a new color, depending on the original color. The single factor (SF) Yellowface 2 Skyblue variety is like a normal Light Green but has a very bright body color midway between blue and green a shade often called sea-green or turquoise. The body feathers of the SF Yellowface 2 Cobalt are bottle-green and in the SF Yellowface 2 Mauve they are a mixture of mauve and olive. The double factor (DF) Yellowface 2 Skyblue variety is very similar to the Yellowface 1 Skyblue, but the yellow pigmentation is brighter, and tends to leak into the body feathers to a greater extent.

In combination with the Blue, Opaline and Clearwing mutations, the single factor (SF) Yellowface 2 mutation produces the variety called Rainbow.

The yellowface type 2 gene is dominant to the yellowface type 1, meaning that it is visually expressed and the type 1 is masked in a genotypically type 1 x type 2 bird. When two yellowface type 1 skyblues are paired together, half the chicks will be yellowface type 1 skyblues and half will be normal skyblues in appearance. But half of these apparent skyblues will be double factor (DF) yellowface 1s. Here are the breeding expectations using punnett squares:

Yellowface budgie parakeet breeding punnett square

Cinnamon-Wing gray-green English Budgie baby

Cinnamon-wing sky-blue English budgie hen

All the markings which appear black or dark gray in the Normal appear brown in the Cinnamon. The Cinnamon markings on cocks tend to be darker than on hens. The long tail feathers are lighter than Normals. The body color and cheek patches are much paler, being about half the depth of color of the Normal. The feathers of Cinnamons appear tighter than Normals, giving a silky appearance. The eyes of the newly-hatched Cinnamon are not black like the eyes of Normals, but deep plum-colored. This color can be seen through the skin before the eyes open. A few days after the eyes open, the eye darkens and is then barely distinguishable from the that of a Normal chick, but by this time the difference in down color is visible: Normal chicks have gray down, but Cinnamon (and Opaline and Ino) chicks have white. The skin of Cinnamon chicks is also redder than Normals, and this persists into adulthood: the feet of Cinnamons are always pink rather than bluey-gray. The beak tends to be more orange in color.

In birds, the cock has two X chromosomes and the hen has one X and one Y chromosome. So in hens whichever allele is present on the single X chromosome is fully expressed in the phenotype. Hens cannot be split for Cinnamon (or any other sex-linked mutation). In cocks, because Cinnamon is recessive, the Cinnamon allele must be present on both X chromosomes (homozygous) to be expressed in the phenotype. Cocks which are heterozygous for Cinnamon are identical to the corresponding Normal. Such birds are said to be split for Cinnamon. The Cinnamon with Ino can create the Lacewing variety.

Cinnamon is a sex-linked recessive gene:

cinnamon x cinnamon =100% cinnamon

cinnamon cock x normal hen =50% normal split for cinnamon cocks50% cinnamon hens

normal cock x cinnamon hen =50% normal split for cinnamon cocks50% normal hens

normal split for cinnamon cock x normal hen =25% normal cocks25% normal split for cinnamon cocks25% cinnamon hens25% normal hens

normal split for cinnamon cock x cinnamon hen =25% normal cocks25% normal split for cinnamon cocks25% cinnamon hens25% normal hens

Cinnamon-wing budgie parakeet breeding punnett square

Opaline parakeet on the right, normal on the left.

The striping pattern on the head feathers is reversed so that there are thicker white areas and thinner black stripes. Another feature of this mutation is that the body feather color runs through the stripes on the back of the neck and down through the wing feathers. Opaline budgies tails are characteristically patterned with light and colored areas running down the tail feather. Most Opalines show a brighter body color than the corresponding non-Opaline, particularly in nest feather and in the rump area. The Opaline (and the Cinnamon) can be identified at a very early age because the color of the down feathers of the young nestling are white instead of the usual gray.

Opaline is a sex-linked recessive gene:

opaline x opaline =100% opaline

opaline cock x normal hen =50% normal split for opaline cocks50% opaline hens

normal cock x opaline hen =50% normal split for opaline cocks50% normal hens

normal split for opaline cock x normal hen =25% normal cocks25% normal split for opaline cocks25% opaline hens25% normal hens

normal split for opaline cock x opaline hen =25% normal cocks25% normal split for opaline cocks25% opaline hens25% normal hens

Single Factor Spangle violet opaline American parakeet x English budgie cross

Double Factor Spangle English budgie

SINGLE Factor Spangle: The markings on the wings, the throat spots and the tail feathers are altered on the single factor Spangle. The feathers have a white or yellow edge, then a thin black pencil line, then the center of the feather is yellow or white. The throat spots are often all or partly missing but if present look like targets, with a yellow or white center. The long tail feathers can be like the wing feathers with a thin line near the edge, or they may be plain white, yellow or solid dark blue as in a normal.

DOUBLE Factor Spangle: Pure white or yellow bird, though sometimes with a slight suffusion of body color.

Both types of Spangle have normal dark eyes with a white iris ring and normal ceres. Their feet and legs can be gray or fleshy pink. They can have either violet or silvery white cheek patches (or a mixture of both).

Spangle Breeding Outcomes:

Spangle is an incomplete dominant gene. This means it has three forms: the non-spangle, the single factor spangle and the double factor spangle. Spangle genetics sometimes do not act as expected.

normal x single factor spangle =50% normal50% single factor spangle

normal x double factor spangle =100% single factor spangle

single factor spangle x single factor spangle =25% normal50% single factor spangle25% double factor spangle

single factor spangle x double factor spangle =50% single factor spangle50% double factor spangle

double factor spangle x double factor spangle =100% double factor spangle

Spangle budgie parakeet breeding punnett square

All pied budgerigars are characterized by having irregular patches of completely clear feathers appearing anywhere in the body, head or wings. These clear feathers are pure white in blue-series birds and yellow in birds of the green series. Such patches are completely devoid of black melanin pigment. The remainder of the body is colored normally.

Dominant Pied (single factor) yellow face type 2 skyblue English budgie

Dominant pied (single factor) skyblue American parakeet

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Budgie Parakeet Colors, Varieties, Mutations, Genetics

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