Colors and mutations of budgerigars

What a shimmer of color the budgerigars offer us! A real treat for the eyes. If you want to find your way around this rainbow universe, if you want to acquire some technical terms, follow the guide …

The wild budgie

Originally, the budgie lives in Australia. It was discovered there in 1770 by Captain J. Cook. It inhabits arid and semi-arid regions, but remains close to water points, its life revolving around two essential activities: the search for food and water. It lives in groups that color the sky beautifully when they move in clouds that can number tens of thousands of individuals, especially forming after heavy rain. This group life is essential to protect oneself from predators and it is also what makes the parakeet such a deeply social animal. Parakeets nest together in trees, fond of eucalyptus. The wild parakeet is characterized by yellow on the head, light green on the body, black for the design of the waves on the back and blue for the tail.

Explanation of mutations in budgerigars

There is only one species of budgerigar, geographical qualifiers such as “English”, “American” or “Australian” simply allowing you to navigate between the various Melopsittacus undulates. Budgerigars have never been crossed with other species and the genetic background remains limited.

“Australian” parakeets generally look a lot like wild parakeets. The “Americans” are a little taller than the Australians, but look a lot like the Australians. The “anglaises” are larger and their plumage is very varied in size and thickness.

A mutation is a change in color observed in the offspring of a pair of budgies. This change is found in the genes and will therefore be able to be transmitted. A mutation is hereditary and appears from birth.

The mutations are the result of selection work by breeders, but beyond the variations in color and size, it is surprising to note that parakeets retain their Australian rhythm, which allows them to reproduce from the fall, c that is, when it is spring in Australia.

We distinguish between parakeets carrying a gene linked to color on each chromosome of the chromosome pair (since chromosomes go in pairs) and parakeets carrying a gene linked to color on only one of the two chromosomes.

There are also mutations linked to the sex of the bird. The transmission will then be from the father to the daughter. In fact, in mammals, it is the male who has two chromosomes called X and Y, while in birds, it is the female who is XY. The genetic reasoning therefore differs. When a hereditary sex mutation occurs, it is always the female offspring that is impacted.

The green mutation

The green mutation is the color closest to the natural color of budgerigars, hence their name “wild” mutation.

The blue mutation

The blue mutation characterizes birds with a light blue body and the front of the head, called a “mask”, white. This mutation only concerns the color but not the waves because the production of melanin is identical to that of the wild parakeet.

This mutation causes the yellow to disappear, hence the green which turns blue on the body and the mask which changes from yellow to white. It is a recessive mutation which therefore requires both parents to carry the blue gene to obtain young blue ones.

If we do not know the genotype of a green mutation bird, by mating a green bird to a blue bird, you will have young carriers of the blue mutation which will be expressed in the next generation, or, if the green was “blue carrier”, you will get young blues and green “blue carriers”.

The gray mutation

It is a dominant mutation. The color must be integrated as an additional factor which is added to the green, and in which case we will speak of gray-green, or blue, and in which case we will speak of gray (very short).

Dark factors

Green, blue, gray and gray-green are base colors.

But for each of them, there are nuances that can also be transmitted: these are the dark factors. These factors are not visible in gray and gray-green parakeets. And these factors can either be absent, present on only one chromosome, or present on both.

These dark factors are manifested in a green mutation parakeet:

  • light green, the one called “wild”,
  • dark green,
  • olive green.
  • light blue,
  • cobalt,
  • purple.

For blue, we distinguish:

The purple mutation

The dark factors of the blue series result in a beautiful blue-violet called violet. A purple bird has a purple factor and a dark factor. It is a dominant mutation but there is no purple carrier.

The opaline mutation

It is a mutation that is in addition to the basic color mutations (green, blue, gray, purple). It takes an expert eye to identify it. This mutation is linked to sex and produces a decrease in the production of melanin in some parts of the body, with waves absent on the upper back.

The other changes

There are still many other mutations leading to this formidable variety of appearances: diluted mutations (called “dilutes”), clear wings, gray wings, cinnamon, lutino, albino, lace wings, beaded, yellow mask, Danish magpie, Australian magpie, Dutch magpie, ivory, black face, anthracite, black eyes, etc. This list is not even exhaustive.

The selection work is almost creative work and mastering the subject takes time, even without going into reproduction. It is, for example, easy to confuse a gray-green and an olive green. The distinction will be made at the level of the color of the ear spots (near the ears) and the tones of the tail.

But with passion, one can get to acquire a lot of knowledge. And budgerigars are birds that deserve our full attention, far beyond their mere appearance.

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