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Budgerigar (Melopisittacus undulatus)

Posted by rafael castro on July 8, 2010 at 8:06 AM Comments comments (2)

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.




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.




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.




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.




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 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




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.


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.




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.



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



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.



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.)



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.



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.



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 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.


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, 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 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.




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.



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.


New Budgerigar mutation



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



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





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.



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.



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.



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.



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.



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.



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.

Mutations in Agapornis roseicollis

Posted by ramboooo on April 22, 2010 at 6:52 AM Comments comments (21)

Mutations in Agapornis roseicollis

As previously mentioned we can expect colour mutations by alterations of eumelanin, psittacine, distribution of pigments (eumelanin or psittacine) and feather structure. This is also the case in mutations of roseicollis. Let us go through the points once again.


Eumelanin mutations:





Bronze fallow

Pale fallow


Alteration in eumelanin distribution:


Edged dilute


Recessive and dominant pied



Psittacine mutations:




Orange face

Pale headed



Alteration of feather structure:


Dark factor


Manifestation originated bij crossing-over:



Eumelanin mutations:


The Ino factor (sex-linked) 


The ino factor reduces visible eumelanin completely. As well as in the plumage, the eyes, the legs, toes and nails. Combined with a green bird this will result in a pure yellow bird, the legs are pink coloured and, typical for this mutation, red eyes. The colour of the rump is white.Because the psittacine is unaffected by this mutation, the red of the mask stays unaltered. In roseicollis this mutation is sex-linked and we refer to it as SL ino.

In combination with other mutations:

Lutino (wildtype + ino)

Orange face lutino

Pale headed lutino

Turquoise albino

Aqua albino(top)




This mutation causes a 60% reduction of the visible eumelanin resulting in a yellow bird with a green bloom all over the body. Flight feathers are light grey. The rump is partially affected.Legs, toes and nails are pink coloured. The mask is unaffected. The basic type is called pallid green.

These birds have red eyes at hatching that darken into deep dark brown after a day or eight. Pallid inherits also sex-linked and originated in Australia, that is why one referred to these birds as “Australian cinnamon”. This mutation inherits as a sex-linked character, just like its cinnamon and ino counterpart, however, mind that the pallid allele is situated at the sex-linked ino-locus. That means that we actually have to deal with a multiple allolomorph of this locus, to put it simple, another mutation of the ino-locus showing a less dramatic effect than ino.

If we breed a combination of pallid and ino, and only the male offspring can have such combination, we obtain an intermediate colour shade between pallid and ino and not wildtype coloured birds. This proves that pallid is allelic to ino and we refer to these cocks as pallidinos. Hens can never be pallidinos because they can never be split for a sex-linked character. When we mate such ‘pallidino’ cock to a green hen we can expect pallid hens, ino hens, green/ino cocks and green/pallid cocks. This can be very confusing for the average breeder. Note that these ‘pallidino’ cocks look like too light coloured pallids and therefore are not in demand for shows.

Until recently the name isabel was used for this mutation, however, it turned out to be unsuitable for this species. Isabel is in use in the canary community for a sex-linked combination of brown (cinnamon) and agate (pallid). Agate in canaries is the equivalent of pallid in roseicollis. The isabel canary is derived from a crossing over between brown and agate. The fact that a separate name was given to a mutation combination was very confusing and the impression was given that we had to deal with a separate mutation and that is not the case.Separate names for mutation combinations should be avoided, however, there is one exception; the lacewing Budgerigar. As long as we realize that this is in fact a combination of cinnamon and ino, we could live with that. (The term lacewing justifies the phenotype only in this species and not in other psittacine species).(top)




An eumelanin mutation as well, however, not a mutation that reduces the amount of eumelanin. This mutation alters the colour of the eumelanin into brown instead of black. Black eumelanin absorbs almost all daylight, however, brown eumelanin reflects more light and shows a brown colour. The result is a brownish green bird with brown flights and pink coloured legs and toes. The mask stays unaltered because the mutation does not affect psittacin. Typical for this mutaton is that all yougsters have red eyes at hatching. The eyes darken to dark brown after about 8 days. The mutation inherits sex-linked recessive. The basic type is the cinnamon green.

In combination with other mutations:

Cinnamon green, cinnamon D green, cinnamon DD green

Orange face cinnamon green etc.etc.

Cinnamon turquoise, cinnamon dark turquoise, cinnamon double dark turquoise

Cinnamon aqua, cinnamon dark aqua, cinnamon double dark aqua(top)


Bronze fallow (FKA type I) 


In this mutant this is also an alteration of the colour of the eumelanin. Instead of brown the eumelanin has a grey brown appearance. This can be observed especially in the flight feathers. In common it is of a somewhat lighter shade than cinnamon caused by smaller eumelanin granules produced by this mutation. Eumelanin is almost absent in the legs, toes and eyes and therefore these birds have pink legs and red eyes. The rump has a dullish blue colour. The psittacine stays unaffected leaving the mask unaltered. At first sight this bird can be mistaken for a cinnamon, however, the clear red eyes and the paler back of the head indicate the typical fallow mutation. This mutation inherits recessive.

The first fallow roseicollis originated in West Germany in the aviaries of mr. Bodo Ochs. That is why one referred to these birds as West German fallow in roseicollis. This type of fallow might be allelic to the NSL ino-locus, however, this should be proven by testmatings. The basic type is the lightgreen bronze fallow.

Combinations with other mutations:

Bronze fallow green, bronze fallow D green, bronze fallow DD green

Orange face bronze fallow green, etc, etc.

Bronze fallow aqua, bronze fallow dark aqua, bronze fallow double dark aqua (top)


Pale fallow (FKA type 2) 


Almost equal to the bronze fallow but there is some difference. The greyish brown eumelanin content is lesser than in the bronze fallow resulting in a paler coloured fallow. An olive yellowish bird with a dull blue rump and ruby red eyes. Not only the clear red eyes are typical for this type of fallow but also the greenish shade at the lower abdomen. Legs, toes and nails are pink coloured. These fallows inherit recessive. This type originated in East Germany, which explains its former name, the East German fallow. The basic type is pale fallow green.

Combinations with other mutations:

Pale fallow green, pale fallow D green, pale fallow DD green

Pale fallow orange face green, etc, etc.

Pale fallow turquoise, pale fallow dark turquoise, pale fallow double dark turquoise

Pale fallow aqua, pale fallow dark aqua, pale fallow double dark aqua (top)

Alteration in eumelanin distribution:


Edged dilute 


The first edged diluted birds originated in the U.S.A. That is why people referred to these birds as “American golden cherry” at that time, which was in fact a derivative from “American cherry head” (Cherry head was the English name for roseicollis). Nowadays we refer to such bird as Edged diluted green (basic type).Edged dilute is a mutation of the eumelanin distribution. In this mutation we observe a typical edged effect on the wing coverts. This is caused by a normal distribution of eumelanin only at the edges of the feathers and a poor distribution in the remaining part of the feather. The reduction in the poor pigmented areas is about 60% resulting in a lightgreen-yellowish area. The outer ridge of the feather contains much more eumelanin and is therefore darker causing the “edged” effect. The same effect is seen in the flight feathers. A further reduction of eumelanin in other parts of the plumage is equally distributed, about 50%, and is equivalent to pastel birds. Only the wing coverts and flight feathers show the edged effect. The rump of these birds is bleached. Legs and nails are light grey. The name is based on the pastel body colour and the edges on the wing coverts. This mutation inherits as a recessive character. By adding one or two dark factors one becomes an edged diluted dark green or an edged diluted olive green. This mutation can be combined with several other psittacine mutations such as orange face or pale headed. These combinations are indicated as orange faced edged diluted green or pale headed edged diluted green. In combinations with turquoise or aqua one refers to it as edged diluted turquoise or edged diluted aqua. One addressed these birds formerly erroneously as “American silver cherry” or even “silver”. Commercially it is a good sounding name, however, it did not tell anything about the geno- and phenotype of these birds. These names should be abandoned as much as possible. (top)




In this mutation the eumelanin has disappeared for almost 80 to 90% in the entire plumage.The result is an almost completely yellow coloured bird. However, it is not bright yellow because of the presence of few eumelanin in the feather barbs.The first dilute roseicollis originated in Japan. Therefore one referred to these birds as Japanese cherry or Japanese golden cherry. In dilute roseicollis one can also observe a lighter coloured rump. The barbs of the rump feathers of roseicollis lack the barbules at the top of the feathers for about 3 mm. The barbules of the rest of the rump feathers contain eumelanin for about 50% in the wildtype. This explains the rather dark blue colour of the rump in wild type roseicollis. If the reduction is about 90%, like in dilutes, the colour will be pale blue. The eumelanin content is very much reduced resulting in a lesser absorbtion of the daylight and a lighter blue colouration.The mask of roseicollis is, as mentioned before, composed with feathers of the “pride” type, however, the mutation has no effect in this area and the red colour stays preserved. The legs and toes stay almost unaffected in both mutants, they are like the flight feathers, light grey in appearance. Dilute inherits recessive.

Combined with other mutations:

Dilute green, dilute D green, dilute DD green

Orange face dilute green,.........

Dilute turquoise, dilute dark turquoise, dilute double dark turquoise

Dilute aqua, dilute dark aqua, dilute double dark aqua (top)


Dominant pied 


Pied: the partial absence of eumelanin, unequally spread into several areas of the complete plumage. A way to describe this kind of mutation the best. The result is a bird with unpigmented patches or areas. The first one is the dominant pied roseicollis first bred in the USA. The first announcements were made in the early thirties, however, it was not before the early sixties that the first detailed description was published.This type of pied can vary from a few pied feathers till an almost complete absence of eumelanin. The mask is smaller in appearance in this mutation. Although these birds have a dominant inheritance, it is hard to say whether there is a clear difference between SF and DF birds or not.The basic type is pied green.

Combinations with other mutations:

Pied green, pied D green, pied DD green

Pied orange face green, etc, etc.

Pied turquoise, pied dark turquoise, pied double dark turquoise

Pied aqua, pied dark aqua, pied double dark aqua (top)


Recessive pied


The recessive pied mutation originated in Australia and shows an almost completely yellow bird. We might say that this type of pied causes a 95% absence of eumelanin. The colour of the flight feathers, legs, toes and nails can vary from grey till completely dilute. In most cases the rump colour is totally affected and sometimes a light green shade is seen at the upper rump or the lower back. In spite of the fact that pied is a mutation affecting indirectly eumelanin distribution, one can also observe a smaller mask in this type of pied. Split birds can be recognized in most cases by a pied spot at the inner side of the thighbone. (top)


Dark eyed clear (DEC)


Just like in Budgerigars we are able to breed completely yellow birds from a combination of dominant and recessive pied. From a genotypical point of view these birds are in fact DF dominant pied recessive pieds (as a formula Pi / Pi s / s). If we mate such bird to a wild type bird, all offspring will be SF dominant pied split recessive pied. (top)

Psittacine mutants

The best known psittacin mutant is the blue coloured bird. In such bird the yellow psittacin is completely absent. These blue birds are best recognized and therefore much easier understood. However, in roseicollis the matter is different because a genuine blue mutant does not (yet) excist in that species. There are turquoise and aqua mutants. These are colours that verges on blue but it is not pure blue.Other psittacine mutations are orange face and pale head altering the colour of the psittacine and also opaline extending the psittacine on the head. (top)




In an aqua bird the yellow psittacin is reduced by approximately 50%. That means that the yellow colour in the cortex of the plumage is not as yellow as it is in the wild type. If we dilute yellow paint for about 50% we will also obtain a lighter yellow colour. The blue light rays, aroused in the spongy zone, pass through a light yellow “filter” producing a colour that is not green and not blue, it is more in between. That is why this colour is called aqua. Not only the yellow psittacine in the plumage is reduced, also the red psittacine of the mask. The red becomes about 50% paler. Therefore the aqua roseicollis gets its typical pink mask. Legs, toes and nails stay unaffected. Only eumelanin is responsible for the colouration of the legs and toes. Aqua inherits as a recessive. This colour shade can be combined with almost every other mutation; cinnamon, pallid, edged, dilute and fallow. Combined with orange face it will result in a aqua bird with a ‘yellowish’ mask. This combination is not of any use for shows because it is neither accepted nor in demand. Combinations with the dark factor is possible, one refers to such birds as aqua (basic type), dark aqua (one dark factor) and double dark aqua (two dark factors). (top)


Turquoise (pale face) 


In turquoises there is a reduction of 80 sometimes even 90% of the psittacine in the whole plumag. The psittacine in the cortex becomes very light yellow and by the action of the blue rays in combination with the pale yellow psittacin, we see a bird that is much more “blue” than the aqua. Except for the wing coverts, there is still a green shade, even green patches are visible in the plumage because the reduction in those patches is obviously only 50 till 60%. The psittacine still present, makes the wing coverts more turquoise coloured, in contrast to the almost blue body. In the mask the red psittacine is reduced for about 90% leaving it almost white. However, if we take a good look we can still observe a light pink shade at the front head. That is because there is still 10 till 15% red psittacin present in that area. A true white mask can only be achieved if the psittacin is completely lost, thus in a genuine blue bird (think of the blue Fisher). This mutation was formerly named “white face” for that reason and is now renamed to turquoise. This colour can be combined with almost every other colour in the blue series, just like the turquoise (except for orange face). Combined with the dark factor we refer to these combinations as dark turquoise and double dark turquoise. The inheritance is also recessive. (top)




Let us make perfectly clear that this is not a separate mutation but a mutation combination. Turquoise and aqua are both alleles of the bl-locus. In other words, they are multiple alleles. If we combine a turquoise and an aqua, the result will not be a green bird split for turquoise and aqua, but a bird with an apple green phenotype. A colour somewhere in between green and turquoise, however, these birds do have a much paler mask. Genotypical it is a aqua / turquiose bird. Unfortunately one named these birds apple green. This is confusing and unnecessary because in this manner we stick a separate name to a mutation combination. For this reason many people think that this is a mutation in its own right and that is not the case. Giving a separate name to a mutation combination must be avoided as much as possible. Considering the rules in the international namingsystem we call it AquaTurquoise. (Combinations caused by multiple alleles are named by a ‘ blending’ of both names of the base mutation, e.g. AquaTurquoise. Capital letters are used to indicate the start of the mutation: Aqua and Turquoise) The AquaTurquoise type is not in demand in the BVA (Belgian Lovebird Society) nomenclature because it is a combo, however, it is an excellent bird for breeding turquoise and aqua birds. (top)


Orange face 


This type originated in the USA in the eighties. In this mutation the psittacine in the mask and the tail dots is not red but orange and because of this differs from the wild type. Orange face inherits recessive. (top)


Pale headed 


Originated in The Netherlands. In this mutant the psittacin in the mask and tail dots is light orange pink. Pale head inherits as a dominant character. SF birds show much lesser effect than a DF bird. The DF birds are the most wanted for shows. The general body colour verges slightly on aqua. The remaining parts are equal to the wild type. (top)

Alterations in psittacin and eumelanin distribution:




Originated in 1997 in the USA. From a pair dark green / ino x green the first opalines hatched. Most remarkable feature is that the red psittacin of the mask has extended to the back of the head. The general body colour is a somewhat duller green, the rump is almost completely green and the black and blue tail dots have disappeared, and so the red colour prevails in that area. Opaline is a sex-linked character. (top)

Mutations of the feather structure:


The dark factor 


This factor causes an alteration of the width of the spongy zone. Another blue colour is produced by interference in this zone and more light is absorbed. The result is a darker coloured bird. The darkfactor is a semi-dominant character. That means that the colour of SF birds is in between the colour of green birds and birds having two dark factors. Green birds with one dark factor are dark green (D green), with two dark factors double dark green.(DD green) (top)


The violet factor 


This factor alters the structure of the spongy zone. Because of this alteration blue interference changes into violet interference. This violet colour inherits dominant and can be bred into almost every other mutation, however, it will be best visible in birds coming from the blue series having one dark factor (dark) or birds from the aqua series having one dark factor (double dark). Combinations with other colours might cause confusion and should be avoided. (top)

Manifestation originated by crossing-over:




Originated by crossing-over between cinnamon and ino. In the green series these birds are yellow with a red mask and red eyes, a light blue rump and the flight feathers are light brown. One might think that we have to deal with a fallow type 2 (dun fallow). However, the green suffusion at the lower abdomen lacks, the eye colour is too dark and the inheritance is different. Fallow inherits autosomal recessive and this type inherits sex-linked recessive. The chance on crossing-over between cinnamon and ino is 3%.

The phenotype was first described in Budgerigars. In that species one gets yellow birds with light brown wing markings looking like the pattern of a lace doily. The late Cyril Rogers named these birds “lacewings”.

When the first lacewings arose, one did not know nor understood that it was the result of crossing-over. The cinnamon-ino phenotype in Budgerigars is rather unique with respect to most other species and therefore justifies the name “lacewing” as long as we remember that it is in fact a cinnamon-ino.

It is sometimes a problem that many novice breeders think that they have to deal with a separate mutation. Therefore we soon became aware that for this crossing-over no special names must be attached. What we must do is to make clear what combination this actually is.

The moment we have to deal with a crossing-over, we must write it down as the two mutations involved linked with a hyphen. Both mutations are situated at the same chromosome after crossing-over. Simply “cinnamon-ino” will do. It is easy to remember because it is the same spelling as “crossing-over” which is composed as two words linked with a hyphen. (top)


© Dirk Van den Abeele




We Belong by Eric Chan

Posted by rafael castro on April 13, 2010 at 9:49 AM Comments comments (1)

It was really a great time havingfriends from different sectors of society including classes or evencharacter and personalities.  The last time I heard about “We Belong”was the time when it was heard over the radio sang by Pat Benatar asmost of you may recall.  Another “We Belong” thing was made intopropaganda by the Young Officers Union (YOU) during the coup days ofthe 80s.

But what doesbelongingness really means?  As far as I’m concerned it all starts outin the family.  We feel comfortable whenever we are with our mom anddad and with the other siblings.  Sometimes this involves security whensomeone threatens us we immediately cry for help.  What I recall aboutit in my childhood was having someone to go to when I want something orclaims something that does not necessarily belong to me but is owned byone of the family members.  We can say that this is my car, well infact that this was purchased by your dad. Because of belongingness andhaving an affinity to the owner we can actually assert and claimanything that is owned by the family.

Havingtold you about the significance of being part of a family I hope manywould understand the importance of joining an organization thatpromotes the common interest of various persons not necessarily havingthe same character or personalities.  I joined Birds Industry Research and Development Society, Inc.back in 2004 to find out more about bird-keeping and probably to get abetter deal in buying birds, plain and simple.  I seldom join birdshows and activities on the onset having little interest because myobjectives were just getting to be a regular member and just build anetwork. 

But as time goes by, I involved myself in some of theactivities of the club learning more information about the system ofputting up an exhibit and having the chance to mingle and interact withwell known bird breeders who gave me a lot of bird education!  Littleby little there was a shift of interest on my perspective of having tobelong in the club.  It is like becoming more aware of the need to getsocialized and having a deeper relationship with my colleagues in theclub.  I tell you, just like in other organizations, it was not easyfor me to assimilate into the circle of different people.  It needsflexibility, sensitivity and a lot of public relations effort.  Onefactor that can really help especially new members is to look at theclub not in peso terms but in building relationship.  Everyone wants togain something from a club.  Having paid a membership fee is one stepin getting one’s commitment through.  Well, the rest is all aboutunderstanding and cooperating with other members.


Now, being an elected officer ofBIRDS, INC. posed a new challenge.  As the Public Relations Officers ofthe club I make it a point to contribute the best.  I don’t have muchmoney, I don’t have much to give in material resources, but I have myprecious time and ideas to give.  In fact, I do feel ashamed a lot oftimes when I want to give financially but I couldn’t.  This does nothinder me from participating.  I can still remember vividly when therewas a meeting in Pasig where I had a difficulty of getting a ridehome. 

Suddenly, out of nowhere Ando Muñoz appeared and gave me a lifthome in his motorcycle.  It was my first time to ride a motorcycle longdistance.  And I can say that it was a thrill!  Mang Pikong Hernandez,Bernard Lugod, Danny Ang plus others who always never fail to bring meto my destination.  I can’t help myself to be overwhelmed with joy whenmy friends in the club offer their generosity and help just like beingpart of a big family.

Sometimes,there are frictions, misunderstandings and debates.  There are timeswhen some leave us or even times when you get separated as a result ofdisciplinary action by the body.  I hope that these things will be thelast option to us.  The goal of a club is to preserve and not todestroy, to grow and not to diminish.  If we abide by the will of themajority especially in decision-making, there will be harmony.  Ibelieve in the democratic process.  That is why I always consider theopinion of others to be important.  Differing views may arise at timesbut we need to follow a system that will bring order in everysituation.  I detest pride as a tool in motivating others and informing public opinion.

Alwaysbring to mind the happy moments.  Enrich each other’s life by makingthem happy.  As told by doctors, laughter is the best medicine.  Ifonly we can make each moment full of good things in life I think wehave already achieved greatly in our BIRDS, INC. family!  Can youreally say that you belong?

Practical Way of Owning a Bird by Jun “JayCee” Cadoc

Posted by rafael castro on April 13, 2010 at 9:41 AM Comments comments (3)

Before we dive into ourdiscussion, allow me to clarify that this article is in no way has theintention of contradicting other published articles related to oursubject. This article is conceived from my own practical point of viewand experience. Perhapsmost of us have read articles about choosing a pet bird, quality ofbirds, health issues, diet and bird breeding as a hobby or a business.However, for some, they may have not….Hence, for a utilitarian benefit,let us start on the same footing…the practical way of owning a bird.

Firstly, why do we want to have a bird or birds? The two common answers are: 1. as pet/s; 2. to breed. From the two replies, we could generate various guide questions for us to answer on our own and are as follows:

1.  As pet/s:

What specie/s? (budgies, parakeets, African lovebirds, finches…..) What mutation/s? (albino, lutino, pied, crested……) How many could you afford to have and sustain? (one, a pair, 10 pairs….) Do you have enough knowledge in taking care and maintaining such specie/s? (none, a little, adequate…..) Thefirst two bullets are just wants in terms of beauty as perceived byyour naked eyes. I consider the last two bullets as the mostsignificant for us to consider. To wit, you may have the immediate cashto purchase, say five pairs but if you do not know:

adaptability to your life style;where to put the birds (space availability and cages required);life span;the dos and don’ts;correct nutrition; health issues; andmonthly costs of feeds and supplements, howlong would your bird/s last? In summary, merely relying on your wantsor impulses will just throw your initial investments on the purchaseand the few months of your operating costs. The key issues here are: weshould learn the trade / mechanics / requirements; and count your moneywhich could sustain the trade or mechanics required.

2. To breed: (Assuming you complied with the above)

Why do you want to breed?If your answer is to produce new mutations or good quality birds: Are you in depth knowledge of producing good quality / new mutations or just experimenting?Are you fully aware of DENR requirements on having a Certificate for  Wildlife Registration?Do you have the resources (budget, time, manpower, and space) to sustain the entire process of your chosen undertaking?If your answer is as a business: Doyou have a sure market which could at least offset your regularoperating expenses and slowly pay back your capital investments?Are you fully aware of DENR requirements on having a Certificate for Wildlife Farm Permit?Do you have the resources (budget, time, manpower, and space) to sustain the entire process of your chosen undertaking? How many do you want to breed?Do you have the sound expertise in Bird Breeding Management?Could you afford financially to breed and maintain the offspring in case of no market or means of a profitable disposal?Do you have the required space and facilities?Do you have the time or manpower resources to take care of the stocks and progenies? In summary, you should do some or all of the following before deciding to own a bird:

Do some researches or buy a book about the bird specie you would want to haveAsk advice/guidance from DENR registered pet owners/breedersExamine your lifestyle and capability to do such endeavor andJoin a bird club to further your knowledge. 


My Zebra Finch by Eric Chan

Posted by rafael castro on April 13, 2010 at 9:37 AM Comments comments (6)

Guess what bird I had as my first petbird?  Of course!  Our very own Maya Bird.  Oh  sorry, but it is notour National Bird, but the Philippine Eagle or the Monkey-Eating Eagleas it was formerly known.  Maya is so common and so abundant that italways enters our home through the windows when we still have noscreen. 

Zebra Finches area close relative of our Maya Bird (House Sparrow).  It originated fromAustralia where just like the Mayas here, they abound in almost allparts of Australia although they are not considered pest there becausethese Zebra Finches don’t bother crops planted by man.  Zebra Finchessubside on the grass seeds and plants that are easily available allyear round in Australia.  A cousin of the Australian Zebra Finch is theTimor Zebra Finch who looks very similar to it but smaller in size andcan be seen in the Indonesian and Timor islands.

The scientific name of Zebra Finch is Taeniopygia guttata castanotis.  Thisis a Tagalog sounding name for me and not so sweet when read aloud! Haha ha!  At first, I was really confused on why they call it ZebraFinch.  I was looking for the black stripes.  Not until I read anarticle in the web that I realized that the horizontal black lines islocated starting from the throat down to the chest.  These ZebraFinches are Dimorphic.  We can easily distinguish the male from thefemale.  The male has round orange cheeks while the females don’t haveit.  Only Black Cheek hen has this round patch, the rest of the hensdon’t have cheek patches.  Another indicator for cocks is theirflanks. 

The flanks are reddish/orangy in color with round whitespots.  Hens don’t have these.  Lastly, hens don’t have chest bars. Sometimes, if the mutation is Black Breasted, hens get a faint breastbar coloring but are considered a fault. Themost common markings for both cock and hen are the Tear Marks justbeneath their eyes.  Without these Tear Marks, judges may consider thisa major fault unless the mutation is Pied where the Tear Marks arebroken.  Where to look at when both cock and hen are pure white?  Theanswer is their beaks.  Cocks have red beaks while hens have orangebeaks. 

Zebra Finches arevery perky birds!  Cocks chirp a lot when looking for a partner ormating while hen makes a soft toot sound (trumpet horn sound).  Thesound they produce is very soothing compared to the loud gawks ofbigger birds.  They thrive in a community.  You can put other fincheslike Gouldian, Owl Finch and Green Singing Finch in the same communitycage with them.  Also, they are very territorial when breeding.  So ifyou are putting them in a community cage allow some additional wicker(rattan) nests equivalent to the intended number of pairs plus placesufficient perches in each cage.  The best set-up for breeding is bypairs in their own breeding cages.  Here, you can choose whatobjectives you may have either in color mutation or size upgrading. Sometime ago during one television interview,I was asked on theadvantages of introducing and experimenting on new mutation.



One panel guest misconstrued this ashaving the genes of the birds manipulated to achieve a whole new specieor form or maybe a hybrid and creating a mutant bird!  When we talkabout mutation in the bird hobby we discuss its Color Mutation.  ZebraFinches are feather-pickers, so if you plan to enter them in bird showsmake sure that you separate them in another cage or at least put somepartitions in the cage.  Some champion birds are not mated until theyretire to keep them in best form and condition. 

Feedingthem is quite simple.  They prefer the mixture of white millet otherslabel this as prosso (40%), canary seeds (30%), yellow panicum (10%),red panicum (10%), red millet (10%).  Forget about the rest becausethey don’t bother to touch them.  They love green leafy vegetables,seed sprouts, chopped or grated chicken eggs including the egg shell,bread crumbs, Cerelac, spray millet as a treat.   Chocolate is toxic tobirds.  Give them a constant supply of cuttlebone and shell grit.  Ilike the imported grit since this includes some other minerals likeiodine, calcium, salt, etc. 

They eat almost all day long so just putthe feeder always available to them.  The weird thing is they almostalways poop on their water supply.  I suspect that this habit isimportant to them to mark their territories.  Well, just a theory! Make sure that you clean all water cups at the end of the day andprovide fresh water always.  Give them a shallow cup or tray at thecage floor for their swimming session and give another hanging cupwater or dispenser for their drinking needs.

Justlike bugs bunny they are very prolific. 

Once they fall in love witheach other they almost mate for life.  I know that this seems quite adifficult task for humans! He he he!  But most of the time we tend toseparate them to give them to another partner for breeding newmutations or to produce better and bigger birds.  These things causedifficulties in breeding at times.  Not all birds are happy beingseparated from their mates.  And not all birds will easily accept newmates.  Just in case you need to separate a couple, ensure that theformer mates don’t see or hear each other within the aviary. 

Apair can mate for about between 3 to 5 seconds.  They may repeat theritual for 3 to 5 days until the first egg is laid.  Normally, the hencan lay from 3 to 8 eggs depending on her condition and age.  ZebraFinches sit upon the egg after laying the first one making the hatchingtime different for each egg.  After laying all the eggs count 5 daysfrom the last egg and candle the egg to check if it’s fertile.  Takeprecaution not to drop or crushed the egg with your fingers, they arevery delicate. 

Eggs are almost the same size of a house lizard’s egg. Use a torch light in candling.  If you see red veins forming insidethen it is fertile.  If not, then it is a clear egg which means it’stime to throw it away.  The eggs will hatch after 15 days.  The cockswill not feed the hen so at times the hen leaves the nest to eat.  Bothcock and hen, however, feeds the chicks.  There are times that if thecock is not available the hen can raise the chicks by herself.  Chickswill fledge about 1 month after hatching by then they may be able toeat by themselves.


Provide additional food in the cagewhen rearing chicks.  Double the portion of seeds, supplement withvitamins and minerals, eggfood, vegetatbles, baby food, etc.  Remember,the best time to provide the best is during the growing stage.  Whenyou want a big, robust, show quality bird, invest in them during thegrowing stage.

In the world,there are three standards that are worth achieving.  They are theAmerican, English, and the German Zebra Finch.  The biggest being theGerman Zebra measuring a minimum of 5 inches from head to the tip ofthe tail.  It is followed by the English Zebra and the American Zebrarespectively.  Australian and American Zebra may vary in size sincefrom time to time they cross their Zebra with the European Zebras.  Inthe Philippines, we have the regular/normal size, the European and theMestizos.

Standards are verydifferent.  In the United Kingdom, they show Zebras by pairs, one cockand one hen both in the same cage and both having the same mutation. In the United States and other parts of Europe and the Philippines,they are shown individually.  German Zebras are magnificent huge birdsalmost the size of Java Finch.  The English Exhibition Zebra has a new2007 standard.  The body form is very round like a fuzzy ball whilemaintaining its big size.  German Zebras, on the other hand, stillmaintains the old standard but the size is being magnified making thebird very big!!!

Most birdhobbyist will tell the beginners to start with Zebra Finches.  It seemsthat this bird has become a training ground or as an entry point inkeeping Finches.  Experts know that it is hardy, highly adaptable, lowmaintenance, that’s why they always recommend this to beginners.  Soon,as they become more acquainted they upgrade to the more sophisticatedGouldians, Cutthroats, Strawberry Finch, Canaries, etc.  But I’mtelling you this now; the fun hasn’t really started when you owned yourfirst Zebra Finch!  To date, Zebra Finches have more than 70 colormutation mixes around the world. 

Here’sthe recognized color mutation of Zebra Finches:  Gray, Chestnut FlankedWhite, Fawns, Lightback, Black Cheek, Black Breasted, Florida Fancy orIsabel, Orange Breasted, Penguin, Pied, Dominant Silver, RecessiveSilver, Cream, Phaeo, White, Black Face, Crested, Fawn Cheek, GrayCheek.  Some other new mutations are Agate, Grizzle, Eumo (European),Yellow Beak, Charcoal, Black (Triple Black), Red (discovered inAustralia pet shop) and George (found only in one private aviary inAustralia and the only Zebra Finch with whiskers!). 


I know a few who imports large Zebra Finches here in our country but Ihaven’t really seen an eye popping competition Zebra with theconformation of the German or English standard. I hope that importedbirds may acclimatize much faster so that imported birds can breedwithout difficulties. Even with our very own island-born Zebras we canstill come up with show birds with very good qualities. Localorganizations recognizes 2 categories for Zebra Finches: the standard(normal size) and the Jumbo (big size). I’m looking forward to theTop-of-the-Line birds competing in the coming years. Let us prepare fornext year’s bird show competition. Let the count down begin. Ready,set, go!!!

My World with the Flying Creatures By PIKONG HERNANDEZ

Posted by rafael castro on April 13, 2010 at 9:35 AM Comments comments (0)

My going into the bird keeping was without firm intent or long priorplanning.  It just so happened that I did not find contentment in myprevious endeavors, such as breeding darkling beetles for their larvae(mealworms and superworms), breeding bullfrogs, soft-back turtles,ducks, rabbits and Siamese cats.  I also tried to raise 45-day chickenwhich I easily got tired of and exchanged for fighting cocks. Thosefighting cocks paved the way for me towards birds.  At that time, I wasalready realizing that I would not make a good sabungero because I lackwhat a sabungero should have--betting money.  Somebody asked me totrade my cocks for his aftrican love birds.  I did not think twice.  


        My real romance with birds started after having attended theBIRDS, INC. seminar in November 2003.  I found bird keeping joyful andrewarding.  It is there where I find my heart and soul. It really is amulti-facetted endeavor.  And now, with forty pairs of birds, I do nothave time to worry about my woes and troubles.  I have to improve andimprovise.  I have to find time saving ways and means. 


        By the time I can no longer deny the advanced years in me andfelt old age creeping in, I found myself rubbing elbows with youngergenerations.  I found out that bird keeping does not belong to aparticular age group or to a particular group of people.  It can be acommon denominator between the young and old, between those who haveless and those who have more in life, those living in slums andthose living in posh subdivisions.  A person, no matter what hisstation in life is, can be into own birds.  In short, people from allwalks of life, can be into bird keeping.  Although I do not considermyself high in computer literacy, I found friends thru e-mailing andthe internet. I am now living in a world larger than before. 


        In bird breeding, much can be learned not by the book but byclose observation.  I take this opportunity to share my experience withothers: And as I have observed, during the incubation period of birdeggs, the most critical time is when the eggs begin to hatch.  Themoment a chick is already out of the shell, the other eggs will soon beencrusted with feces and spilled-over soft food regurgitated by theparents.  This will not only cause decreased heat absorption in theeggs but also makes it hard for the chick to break the shell with itsegg tooth.  The remedy here is to soften the encrustation with water.Be sure to first warm the water with your palm before wetting the eggsto avoid chilling.  When the encrustation is already soft, remove itslowly and carefully with your fingernails.  This process alsomosturizes and softens the egg membrane which was toughened by thepassage of days, making it easier for the chick to break.  Repeat theprocess when there are new encsustations.  You will notice a highhatchling ratio over stale eggs. 


        I do not believe in the birds' "pagtatampo" when their nestboxes are opened and their eggs and chicks are touched.  It is only amatter of making them used to my "snooping".  It is only thru snoopingthat I see the development of the eggs and see if there are distressedchicks.


12 Months of Philippine Bird Keeping by Greg Howell

Posted by rafael castro on April 13, 2010 at 9:34 AM Comments comments (0)

I’ve just come back from 7 weeks inAustralia during which I visited the Kimberly region of WesternAustralia which is the home of most of the Philippines favouritefinches.  I’ve got some nice shots of wild owls, gouldians, masks,shaft-tails and others that you don’t see here.  I’ll write that postlater but my first duties are to house keeping and the house-keepingjobs that we need to be mindful of as keepers and breeders.  Ireturned to mind that despite the best efforts my helpers my aviarieswere looking dishevelled and in need of  a “spring clean”.  Day one(July 30) had to remove one fat vine-snake from the main aviary – Icaptured it and it vomited up an almost fully fledged cut-throat.  Alsomissing are a pair of shaft-tailed finches, and a hen Gouldian.  Thisis a second snake that I know of , so I obviously have a hole.  This isnot surprising given the quality of the work done to construct my mainaviary.  In the Philippines gaps and holes should be less than 6mm inorder to exclude all rodents and snakes.

 Checkingthe nests I found plenty of abandoned eggs (including the missingshaft-tails) and that two boxes are co-inhabited by black ants andcut-throats.  These birds must be particularly tolerant – much more sothan me.  I’ve exterminated one lot but the other will have to waituntil the young are gone – if they survive.  If they were the muchsmaller light brown fire ants the birds would be eaten by now

 Ifound that brush branches (Callistemon viminalis) I use to line myaviaries for shelter and nesting sites have lost their leaves now thatthe wet-season has started in earnest and will need to be renewed. This year will know to hang it upside down and dry it before I place itin the aviary as it droops if it’s put in fresh and allowed to dry insitu. 

 Another thing Inoticed is I got quite itchy entering the aviary due to the build-up ofdander.  Dander is a collection of dead skin and feathers which byitself isn’t too objectionable but it provides food for dust mites.Proteins (largely digestive enzymes) in their excreta are a powerfulhuman allergen and it’s probably not too good for the birds either. InAustralian we commonly use a residual pyrethroid (Coopex by Bayer) towash down the shelter areas of aviaries and breeding cabinets to reducethe incidence of ants, bedbugs, carpet beetles, clothes moths,cockroaches, fleas, spiders, silverfish, houseflies, mosquitoes, bitingflies, hide beetles and seed harvesting ants.  I hope that it orsomething similar is available here.

 Itis important to not let these jobs build up and if you have a number ofcages this can be easily done by rotating cages/aviaries while youclean and refurbish.  I only have two aviaries and so I will have tocompromise.  Hopefully the Java sparrows in the smaller aviary won’tkill my expensive finches while I do this work in my main aviary.  Iknow I theoretically condemn collecting but I couldn’t help purchasingthe Javas to “complete my collection” and now I may pay the price butif I don’t my mail aviary will become unsable.  So as you can see Ihave some major repair, cleaning and refurbishment ahead of me andhopefully I can enjoy another 12 months of Philippine bird keeping.