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Budgerigar (Melopisittacus undulatus)

Posted by rafael castro on July 8, 2010 at 8:06 AM

History of the Budgerigar


 



First recorded in the wild in the late 1700s by a colonist near Parramatta, the budgerigar (Melopisittacus undulatus) has become the most popular cage bird in the world. The name budgerigar comes from the Australian Aboriginal word betcherrygah, which means good food.


The budgie is a native species to the Australian mainland. Large flocks, sometimes in the tens of thousands, inhabit the open grasslands in central Australia, nesting in the spring and summer in the southern areas of the continent. Pairs will nest wherever there is sufficient food for the flock, making their nests in tree hollows, rotting wood, under rocks and even by digging holes in the ground. Nesting usually takes place after rainfall, due to the availability of food and water.


The native budgerigar is a light green colour, with a yellow head and undulating black bands down the back of the head and wings. It is from these wild birds that the first domestic budgerigars were bred, and the species has evolved into the many varieties present today. The first captive breeding took place in Europe in the mid 1850s, leading to various colour and feather structure mutations.


 

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History of Varieties

 


Yellow was the first recorded variation on the wild green budgerigar, occurring in around 1870 in Germany or Belgium.

 


Sky Blue was first recorded in 1878, but this early mutation was lost through lack of breeding knowledge about the bird. The Dutch successfully bred sky blues at a later stage, and this variation on the normal green bird proved very popular.

 


Laurel (Dark Blue) was first recorded in commercial aviaries by the French in 1915. Olive followed in 1916, by breeding the Laurel birds together.

 

Cobalt and Mauve followed as the Laurel and Olive birds were mixed with Sky Blue.

 

Whites were recorded in England and France in 1920, by breeding blues with yellows.

 

Greywings appeared in Germany and Belgium as early as 1875 in the green birds, and followed in blue in 1928.

 


Clearwing was first recorded in Australia in the 1930s, by the late Mr H. Pier of Sydney.

 

Fallow occured in Australia, Europe and England in the early 1930s. The Australian variety first appeared in the aviaries of a Mr O'Brien of Sydney.

 


Danish Pied, (also called Harlequins or Recessive Pieds) first appeared in 1932.

 

Saddlebacks were first recorded in the aviaries of L and B Ryan of Sydney.

 

Australian Dominant Grey first appeared around 1934. This was followed by the British Recessive Grey, which proved less popular and has virtually died out.

 


Violet occured some time in the mid 1930s, and is claimed by Australia, Denmark and Scotland. The variety caused initial confusion, as a dark green violet can appear olive.

 

Yellow Faced Blue occurred in the mid 1930s in England, and caused almost as much interest as the original sky blue mutation.

 


Australian Dominant Pieds and Dutch Dominant Pieds appeared around 1932. The Australian variety occurred in Sydney, and has proved more popular than the Dutch variety.

 

Continental Clearflights appeared in Belgium in 1946.

 


Cinnamons appeared in Australia, Germany and England between 1931 and 1934.

 

Lutinos and Albinos occured in the 1930s. They are known collectively as 'Inos', the Lutino being the green series and the Albino the blue.

 


Opaline was established in Scotland and Australia in the early 1930s. Like Cinnamons and Inos, Opalines are a sex-linked variety, caused by a mutation of the X and Y chromosomes.

 

Lacewing is also a sex-linked variety and first occurred in Queensland, Australia.

 

Spangle is the most recent mutation, occurring in the aviaries of Melbourne breeder Merv Jones in 1974.

 


Crested budgerigars are a feather mutation that alter the feathers on the head of the bird. They have not really proved to be popular in breeding circles.


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Genetics

 


This section deals with the Mendelian genetics involved in budgerigar varieties.

It is only a basic account to allow calculation of off-spring and does not fully explain

the genetic processes involved. A more detailed account can be found in a genetics text.

 


Genes and DNA

 


DNA is the basic building block for life on earth. Genes are made up from DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid), and it is genes that contain the instructions for cell activity. The genes are located in long sequences called chromosomes.

 


In reproduction, the chromosomes in each parent divide in two, and the resulting organism receives half of it's genetic make up from each parent. Genes control every aspect in the new organism, and some characteristics are the result of multiple genes working together. In budgerigars, variety is determined with a single gene for each variety, making things somewhat simpler.

 


On each chromosome, the genes line up in pairs. The corresponding genes are called alleles. Each characteristic is controlled by two alleles that line up at a certain position on a

 

chromosome. When reproduction occurs and the chromosomes split, a single allele is passed on from each parent to the off-spring, so that it will also have a pair of alleles for each spot on the chromosomes.

 


With determining the variety of budgerigars, a pair of alleles determines whether or not the bird will be a certain variety. With dominant varieties, the bird will show that variety if it has one or both of the alleles for the variety. With a recessive variety, the bird needs both alleles for the variety in order for the variety to manifest in that bird. If only one allele is present for a recessive variety the bird is said to be split for that variety, and can pass the allele on to off-spring.

 


The genetic makeup of a bird can be represented using letters of the alphabet, with a pair of letters for each variety. If no alleles are present for a variety, then lower case letters are used, if an allele is present then upper case letters are used. For example, if a bird had two alleles for the Grey variety, this could be represented by GG, where a bird with one allele for grey could be Gg or gG, while a bird with no grey in it would be gg.

 

 


Dominant Varieties

 


With the dominant varieties, the bird needs only one allele out of the two to be for that variety. The dominant varieties are Australian Dominant Pied, Dutch Dominant Pied, Continental Clearflight, Grey, Violet and Spangle. Taking the example above with the grey bird, the birds with makeup GG, Gg, and gG would all appear grey, while the bird with gg would appear normal.


This example can be applied with all of the dominant varieties, with the exception of spangle. Birds with one allele for the spangle variety will appear spangle, while birds with two alleles appear self-coloured. A bird with make up ss would be normal, Ss or sS would be single-factor spangle, and SS would be double-factor spangle, appearing to be all white or all yellow.

 

 


Recessive Varieties

 


The recessive varieties are Danish Recessive Pieds, Clearwings, Greywings, Dilutes, Saddlebacks and Fallows. In order for the variety to manifest in a bird they need both alleles for the variety. A bird with type CC would appear as a clearwing, while Cc or cC would be called 'split for clearwing' and would appear normal, while cc would be the normal bird. Recessive varieties that are split can pass the variety or the normal onto off-spring, depending on which allele is inherited.

 


Colours


 

The colour of the bird is also determined with a pair of alleles. The blue series of birds is the result of a recessive colour gene. In order for a bird to appear blue, it must have two alleles for the colour. A bird with one or no alleles for colour will appear green. Using C for the colour allele, a bird with cc, Cc or cC would appear green, while a bird with CC would be blue.

 


The shade of colour is controlled with another gene, those birds with no alleles for the colour modification will be light green or sky blue, those with one allele will be cobalt or laurel, and those with two alleles will be mauve or olive.

 


Sex-Linked Varieties

 


The chromosomes that are used in determining the sex of an organism are called the X and Y chromosomes. The X chromosome is similar to other chromosomes and carries genetic information, however, the Y chromosome is smaller and almost devoid of information. In budgerigars the male has two X chromosomes and is represented by XX, while the female has one of each chromosome and is represented by XY.


The varieties Opaline, Lacewing, Ino and Cinnamon are determined by alleles on the X chromosome. In the male bird, the varieties function like a recessive variety. In the female bird, the Y chromosome has no matching allele for the variety, so the female is determined by the one X chromosome. If an allele is present then the variety will manifest, if it is not present then the bird will be normal.

 


If O is used for opaline, in the male birds OO will be Opaline, Oo and oO will be split for Opaline and oo will be normal. In the female, OY will be Opaline, and oY will be normal. The male passes on one of his X chromosomes to off-spring, while the female can pass on the X chromosome, making the off-spring male, or the Y chromosome, making the off-spring female.

 


Examples


 

It is important to be able to calculate the variety of expected off-spring from a breeding pair. The examples below show how to do this using the theory above.

 


Using C for the blue colour allele, the mating between a light green bird and a sky blue bird would be represented by cc x CC. The light green bird passes one allele onto the off-spring, in this case the only possible allele is c. The blue bird passes on one allele, in this case C. By drawing a grid with the birds' allele to be passed on each side the off-spring are calculated.

 


C

c cC

 


The off-spring in this case will all be of type cC, and will be light green split for sky blue, or light green / sky blue.


 

Using C for the blue colour allele, and F for the fallow allele, a mating between a light green fallow with a light green / sky blue fallow would be represented by ccFF x cCfF. The combinations of alleles in the first bird is cF. The combinations in the second bird are cF, CF, cf, and cF. These are then put into a grid.

 


cF CF cf cF

cF ccFF cCFF ccFf ccFF

 


The off-spring are ccFF, cCFF, ccFf, and ccFF. This translates to 50% light green Fallow, 25% Light Green Fallow/ Sky Blue, 25% Light Green / Fallow.

 


Using I for the Ino allele(albino is a blue ino, lutino is a green ino) and C for the blue colour allele, calculate the mating between an Albino Hen and a light green / Lutino Cock. This is represented by IYCC x IiCc. The female alleles can be combined to get IC or YC while the male can be combined to get IC, Ic, iC and ic. Putting this in a table gives:

 


IC Ic iC ic

IC IICC IICc IiCC IiCc

YC IYCC IYCc iYCC iYCc

 


The off-spring are (Albino, Lutino / Albino, Sky Blue / Albino and Light Green / Albino) Males and (Albino, Lutino / Albino, Sky Blue, and Light Green / Sky Blue) Females.

 


Any mating between two birds can be calculated in this manner, by writing out the birds type in alleles, working out the combinations of alleles available, and drawing up a table with the combinations of the birds alleles on the sides.

 


Calculating the off-springs type lets you accurately trace the genetic type of your birds.



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Feeding and Housing

 


This section deals with the care of your budgerigars, including food and diet, housing, treatment and prevention of medical problems and other subjects related to keeping birds alive.

 

 


Diet


The diet that you provide for your budgerigars is important, as birds in breeding or showing condition need to be properly fed. The type of diet will depend on the climate in your area, as in hotter weather birds will require less starch and protein to build body fat. If the climate is cold,

extra starch will need to be provided through the birds' diet. The best way to decide on the diet for your budgerigars is to approach local breeders or societies and see what they recommend.

 

In the wild, budgerigars feed on grass seeds, eucalypt leaves, buds and bark and other greens.

Budgerigars are vegetarian, and should not be supplied with meat, milk or other animal proteins. The birds' digestive systems are not able to properly digest such food, and these proteins tend to go off quickly.

 


Feed Mix


The feed mix you provide for your budgerigars should resemble the natural diet of the wild birds, modified to suit the larger framed domestic budgerigar. The feed mix can be bought pre-packed, but for those who prefer to have more control over the diet can mix their own. A basic mix would consist of 40 % canary seed, 20 % French millet, 20 % panicum, and 20 % oats. For colder climates the percentage of oats can be increased to provide more starch in the diet. Cod liver oil or wheatgerm oil can be added to provide more protein.

 


Greens


Budgerigars enjoy greens in addition to the seed mix provided. Leaves off vegetables are good, and grass is also a good source of food, especially the growing stems or sprouting seeds. The best form of greens that you can supply are branches from trees, as they provide a source of exercise as well as leaves, bark and shoots. Eucalyptus are best, but if these are not available in your area then try other types. (Make sure that the tree you are supplying is not poisonous, as this could have a negative effect on the health of your birds!) The best way to find out what your birds like is by experimenting.

 


Diet Supplements


Calcium is an important mineral that must be supplied to your birds, especially for development of the young and for nesting hens. It can be supplied in the form of a calcium block, or cuttlefish bone. An alternative is to save egg shells from your kitchen, dry and grind them and supply them as a powder.

 


Grit is needed for aiding in the birds' digestive process. Grit is used by the bird to grind food in the stomach. Loose sandy soil will suffice, or grit can be bought commercially. Grit can be added to the seed mix or provided in a separate dish.

 


Vitamins are needed by birds, in particular the B group of vitamins. Vitamin preparations can be purchased from pet suppliers in liquid or soluble forms, or as a powder to mix into the seed.

 


Water must be kept clean at all times. Although budgerigars can go without water for up to 3 weeks, this is not the best way to raise birds, especially in hot weather. The birds will bathe in the water, and usually manage to get a large number of droppings in the water. The water supply should be out of direct sunlight, as the warmth increases bacteria growth. Water can be supplied in a bowl, but an automatic feeder that only releases a small amount of water at a time can reduce the chance of the water becoming dirty. Raspberry Cordial is added to the water by some breeders, as this seems to kill bacteria and make the birds healthy. A weak solution of raspberry cordial in the water can reduce the chances of your flock becoming sick. Be wary of this technique with show birds in show time, as a raspberry stain down the front of the bird will not be viewed favourably be the judges.


Aviary Construction

 


Dimensions


The length of your flight should be the main consideration when designing or buying an aviary. There should be at least 2 meters of length for the birds to be able to exercise properly. Greater lengths are preferable as they provide even more exercise room. Width is not as important, and can be dictated by how much room you have available. Practically the width should be larger than the width of a door to allow easy access to the birds. The shape of your aviary will also rely on the shape of the area where you put it. A large aviary is not something that fits inconspicuously into a garden unless it is planned out properly. Aviaries can also be built inside if no outdoor space is available, there are examples of breeders who have their aviaries in the garage or on a balcony due to lack of garden space.

 


Numbers


The number of birds that you will need to be a successful breeder depends on how many varieties you are going to concentrate on. A good stud will contain about 50 birds for each variety, allowing for main breeding birds, show birds, and birds to modify the main breeding strain. Your aviary should be able to house this many birds for each variety. As a rough guide, a flight of 2.5 meters by 1.5 meters will hold 100 birds in a squeeze. Aviary sizes with the number of birds they can house are given in the aviary designs below. (Still under construction.)

 


Location


The location of your aviary should be given some consideration. Budgerigars can be noisy, especially in the morning, so neighbours should be kept in mind. Shelter is the main concern, and the position you choose should be protected from high wind and heavy rain, as well as direct sunlight if the climate is warm. Underneath the shade of a tree can be good as this provides some shade in the middle of the day, as well as wind and rain protection. Keep in mind that leaves will have to be cleaned off the roof of the aviary. Another consideration is the need to expand. If you plan to start off small then add onto your aviary as your flock grows, then don't forget to take this into account when positioning your aviary.

 


Materials


The best material for constructing an aviary is metal. The frames should be metal, as this prevents small insects from hiding in the cracks of the frame. Make sure wire mesh is used on the roof underneath the roofing. Roofing can be smashed by falling braches or blown off in heavy wind and the mesh provides extra protection. Mesh should also be put inside walls that are covered in material that may break, such as fibre-glass sheets.

 


Roofing


The aviary should be fully covered by the roof. Leaving an area uncovered to let the birds fly in the rain and sun will most likely lead to feed getting wet and other problems. A full roof provides better protection from wild birds and neighbourhood cats. The roof can be made of clear material or metal sheets, or a combination of the two. In my experience, covering the roof with clear sheets and then having metal sheets that can be placed on top off these allows you to control the amount of light and heat in the aviary. The clear sheets are good for winter conditions, then placing a layer of metal sheets over some of the roof in summer blocks out unwanted heat.

 


Safety Doors


Safety doors are needed to prevent birds from escaping when you enter the flight. When designing your aviary, try to avoid doors leading from outside directly into the flight areas. The breeding room, a storage room or a corridor that opens onto the flights can serve as a safety area, as can a set of double doors. Do not neglect this area when designing an aviary, or you are sure to regret it later.

 


Perches


Perches should always be constructed from wood. Metal perches will cause problems for the birds' feet and plastic perches can be broken easily and prove harmful if chewed. The perches should vary in diameter to provide exercise. Two approaches can be taken with perch design: 1) a bracket of perches that is easy to repair and install, or 2) using natural tree branches and wiring them together in the flight area. The first method is easier to fix if a perch is broken, while the second method is more natural and interesting for the birds.

 


Breeding Room

 


The breeding room should be positioned off the main flights. The room should contain shelf space for placing the breeding cabinets on, so keep the dimensions of breeding cabinets in mind when designing the breeding room. The breeding room will be more efficient if it is no visible from the main flight, as birds in the breeding cabinets will be distracted by the sight of other birds flying about. Light should be plentiful to allow the birds to find the nesting box on an overcast day. Clear roofing is ideal for this, and an additional electric light can be helpful if you feel there is not enough light.

 


Breeding Cabinets


The breeding cabinets should be able to hold two large budgerigars and allow them to exercise. Perches should not move or roll, and should not be too close to the ceiling or floor or the cabinet. The cabinets should be modular in design so that they can be stacked up or ideally fitted into a frame on the wall that they can be removed from if need be. Food and water containers should be easily accessible.

 


Nesting Boxes


The nest box can be placed to the side or front of the cabinet. The nest box should have a false bottom that can be removed, and a hollow in the false bottom for the hen to nest in. The hollow should be deep enough to stop eggs from rolling away from the hen.

 


Medical Equipment

There are several items that should be kept in the breeding room to treat a minor injury or illness.

 


Dettol is useful for treating some parasites and infections.

 


Antibiotics for birds can be purchased from a pet supplier, such as Aureomycin and Bioserine.

 


Sulphur based drug preparation.

 


Eye Ointment is needed for eye infections.

 


Mercurochrome for cuts.

 


A Heated Cage is necessary for isolating and helping sick birds recover. The cage is usually of wood construction, with a glass front. Heat is provided from a light bulb below the floor, and a thermometer is placed inside the cage so the temperature can be monitored and kept at a constant around 37 degrees Centigrade. Ventilation should be controllable so the bird does not die of heat exhaustion rather than the illness you are trying to treat. Fresh air should enter the cage, but not enough to cause a large draft. Consult a local breeder about the construction of a heated cage, as it is an important piece of equipment.

 


A temporary measure can be provided by covering a small holding cage or cabinet and keeping it inside at room temperature.


Ailments


Due to the rapid metabolism of birds, it is essential that illness is treated as soon as possible. Birds should be checked daily for signs of sickness. Sick birds will usually be huddled, withdrawn, drooping on the perch and disinterested in it's surroundings.

 


There are seven main causes of illness in budgerigars, as set out below:

 


Inadequate Nutrition


The diet of your birds is important when it comes to keeping them healthy. Make sure that feed and calcium are provided, and that water is always clean. If feed is adequate and covers the areas set out in the diet section then there should be no problem.

 


Climatic Conditions


Great variations in temperature can often be the cause of illness. If a bird is effected by a sudden change in temperature then place them in a holding cage where the temperature is controlled. In cold weather, it is important that the birds remain dry. As climate can vary so much across the globe, it is probably best to consult a local breeder if you experience troubles with the local climate.

 


Poisoning


Poisoning, although not common, will affect the whole flock if the source is not removed promptly. Budgerigars are naturally curious, and will chew anything in reach of their cage. A toxic plant near your aviary can cause poisoning even if it is only in reach in strong wind. Also beware of any food that may have gone off, or been treated with insecticide.

 


A poisoned bird may be twitching, and there may be frothing at the nose and mouth. If a bird has been poisoned, remove it from the aviary and place it in a heated cage. Remove any buildup around the beak and provide fresh food and water. Make sure that you find the cause of poisoning and remove it.

 


Shock


Shock comes in two main forms - with young birds that have been savaged by their parents; and with the rest of the flock due to outside influences. With the first case, a chick may be attacked by a parent if the parent sees it as a threat to a future nest. If the chick can feed itself, remove it and place it in a heated cage until it recovers. If it is still young, foster the chicks out to other nests or remove the parent that has been attacking the young. One parent will be able to raise a nest, but make sure you remove the correct parent. Savaging of young is dealt with in more detail in the section on breeding problems.

 


Parasites

 


Worms: Birds should be dewormed 3 or 4 times a year. Budgerigars generally suffer from Ascaris and Capillaris worms, which can be treated with deworming agents such as Piperazine or Levimasole.

 


Coccidiosis: Symptoms include a soiled vent and a huddled look, and maybe blood in the droppings. Proper diagnosis is available through microscopic examination, but a preparation such as Bioserine can be used if you suspect a bird has the condition.

 


Ornithosis - Psittacosis: This disease is also contagious to humans, and the symptoms include runny eyes and blinking. The disease can be treated with Aureomycin or Tylon.

 


Feather Lice: These lice live on the feathers off the birds and can cause feather damage and discomfort. Birds should be dipped in the warmer weather to prevent lice.

 


Red Mite: These are small insects that live in any cracks in your aviary or breeding cabinets. They feed on the birds at night, causing birds to look anaemic or lethargic. Treatment is via commercially available sprays for your aviary. Before the breeding season the cabinets and nest boxes should be dusted with a poultry powder or sprayed with a household insecticide.

 


Scaly Face - Knemidocoptes: The symptoms of this disease are an obvious scaling or powder around the beak and eyes of the bird. Treatment is with commercially available solutions, or with a household disinfectant such as Dettol. Apply the solution to the inflected area and let the bird fly in the aviary for a few days, then repeat the application. If needed, a third application should cure the condition.

 


Moulds


There are no real cures for a mould infection, so prevention is important. Mould infection occurs when seed is allowed to decay, and the mould spores are inhaled. Make sure any old seed husks are cleaned out of the aviary, especially in damp weather.

 


Viral Infections


Salmonellosis and E.Coli may be treated with Bioserine or Aureomycin. Symptoms include diarrhoea and drowsiness, and E.Coli may be the cause of some embryonic mortality. Red cordial in the birds' drinking water can also prevent microbes from growing out of hand.

 


Respiratory Diseases


These usually cause the bird to breath with it's beak open and pump it's tail when breathing. Treatment is with Aureomycin in the drinking water for a week, or until the bird recovers.



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New Budgerigar mutation


Anthracite


 

The anthracite budgie has a black (or very, very dark grey) body color. All other markings on the budgie are normal, except for the cheek patches, which are the same black as the body color. This variety is very new and was first established in Germany. This variety has been shown to be genetically semi-dominant. A single anthracite factor produces a darkening effect extremely similar to a single dark factor (producing cobalt). A budgie that is double-factor anthracite appears as the true anthracite with the black body color.

 


Basic Genetics:

Normal - recessive

Anthracite - semi-dominant




Blackface


 

Black face is a new mutation in which the black stripes (undulations) of the head extend all the way into the face and mask, as well as the body feathers. The blackface mutation also causes a darkening of the body color. This mutation is extremely rare and last known to only exist in the Netherlands.

 


Basic Genetics:(

Normal - dominant

Blackface - recessive



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Breeding

Theory


 

This section deals with selecting and buying budgerigars and then establishing a breeding stock.

 


Buying Budgerigars


The first step to breeding a successful stud of budgerigars is selecting the birds that you will start from. The best way to do this is to join a local club and study the breeders that exhibit birds. You will soon see which breeders are proficient in particular varieties and you can approach this breeder and ask to buy some of their breeding stock.


They will obviously not want to part with their best birds, but champion birds will have offspring, parents, brothers and sisters that may be for sale. By joining a local society you will also have access to other breeders experience.

 


Before purchasing birds, study the current standard that is prescribed to in your area. Compare this to the birds that are winning on the show bench and form a picture of what you see as the 'ideal' bird. Always try to keep this ideal in mind when buying a bird. Size must be a priority in purchasing birds.

 


The ideal bird will most likely not be on sale, so you will have to make do with a compromise. When buying birds, try to gather the component parts to make the ideal. If you purchase a cock that has good features except he lacks size, then try to find a hen that will compensate for the size while perhaps not being as good in other areas. As your flock is built up, you will be able to breed your own birds to make up the ideal budgerigar. Each individual bird will be a part of the end product generations down the line: your own champion birds.

 


When you buy the birds, try to keep other factors in mind. Make sure the bird is in good health, and has no contagious diseases that will affect the rest of your flock. If it is a breeding adult, ask for any breeding records, or if there are any special needs for the bird to survive.

 


The price of your bird will depend on the local economy, but don't think that cheaper and inferior birds can be a substitute for a more expensive and obviously superior breeder. It is better to buy just one pair of good quality birds and start from there. A large flock of poor birds will bring you no closer to the ideal, while a good pair will be a start.

 


A good cock will most likely be more easy to come by, and is a better buy. A cock will not have to rest as much between batches, and is less likely to become sick. If you can't find a good hen to buy, then breed your own with birds that, while inferior, compensate for any bad points the cock has.

 


Once you have purchased a few birds to start your flock, the next step is to select breeding pairs and establish a breeding line, as set out below.

 


Breeding Techniques

 


Founding a Line


Once you have purchased the individuals to make up the ideal bird, you can found a breeding line to work towards this goal. The progenitor (starting bird) will usually be a cock. He should have good colour, well defined markings, good head qualities and an outgoing personality that is important for a show bird.

 


The hens that will mate with the progenitor should complement his good points and modify any weakness. They should be inclined to bulkiness, with a deep mask and broad head. Any fault in the progenitor can be breed out with successive generations altering the undesirable trait.

 


This initial stage of the breeding process is called outbreeding, as you are breeding a large number of unrelated birds to give a greater choice of birds next season. Once the line is founded, a form of inbreeding is used to strengthen the desirable characteristics in your flock. Inbreeding involves breeding related birds to establish the good traits of the original birds. The most common form of inbreeding is line-breeding.

 


Line-Breeding


This is the simplest method for controlling traits in your birds. Line-breeding relies on reducing the number of ancestors a bird has, resulting in a fixing of (hopefully) the desirable traits.


Starting with the progenitor, select two mates for him, one that will back up the good traits in the progenitor and introduce bulk into the flock, and the other to compensate for the bad points in the progenitor and produce finer birds. After the first mating, the off-spring from the first crossing should be larger birds with good quality while the second crossing will produce smaller birds that will, with the larger off-spring, be closer to the ideal.


The birds produced in from the progenitor are called the F1 generation. By breeding the best of the F1 generation, and removing the other off-spring from the line, the next generation (F2) will contain birds that are based on the progenitor, with necessary modifications from the two original mates. Continuing to breed the best birds in each generation, the off-spring will move closer to the ideal.

 


Parallel Line-Breeding


This is a related technique used to fix the line once initial line breeding has produced the ideal birds. The method involves mating the father to daughter and mother to son to fix the desirable traits in the flock.

 


Outcrossing


Once the line is started, you may find that there is modification needed to the birds. The introduction of a non-related line is called outcrossing, and will modify the main strain of birds if undesirable traits have appeared. Choose a bird that will modify the main line and move the line toward the ideal. Once the outcross line has been introduced, the main line should contain more desirable traits.


Special Techniques for Varieties


When breeding budgerigars for showing, there are generally no distinct advantages with breeding any particular variety. Genes that cause variety are not related to the size or other characteristics of the bird. Your main focus should be on the size and type of the bird, irrespective of variety. There are, however, some techniques that can be used for particular varieties to increase the quality of markings or colour.

 


In no circumstances should you actively try to breed hybrid varieties. Although some hybrids are interesting as pets, they will not be accepted in a show class. Time spent breeding non-purebred varieties is wasted if you want to show budgerigars.

 


Recessive Varieties


The simplest way to breed a line of a recessive variety is to only use birds of the variety. Unfortunately you may want to introduce a bird that does not have the recessive gene. With the result of such a mating, none of the off-spring will show the recessive characteristic, but they will all be split for this variety. By breeding them back to the recessive parent or among themselves the next generation will contain birds with the variety, modified by the non-variety bird. Recessive varieties are treated further in the section on genetics.

 


Pieds


When breeding these birds, the markings are hereditary. When choosing your breeding birds, check the standards as to what is permissible as pied marking for show purposes. Remember, introducing a hybrid such as an Opaline-Pied is not acceptable on the show bench, so care must be taken in selecting birds.

 


Clearwing


This variety involves choosing the birds with the clearest wings and breeding them together. However, the larger birds usually have poorer markings and so some compromise should be arrived at between size and wing markings, depending on the show standard used in your area. Try to breed the largest birds you can get without loosing clarity in the wings.

 


Lutino


The best method employed to have lutinos with a deep full colour is to breed them on birds with a darker base colour. Light Green birds overlayed with lutino will appear pale compared to dark green, and olive is better still. If you have light green lutinos then outcross your line with an olive bird to get a deeper colour.

 


Albino


Sky blue birds overlayed with albino can have a pale blue suffusion showing thorough. To remove this, outcross with a grey bird to produce grey albinos, and the birds should have a better colour.


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2 Comments

Reply andong_line
1:35 PM on February 19, 2011 
thanks for posting sir
Reply pletcherozf
6:47 PM on October 12, 2012 
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