Breeding Lutino & Lacewings: Rare Budgerigar Variety Mutations

There has always been an attraction among fanciers for livestock that possessed redeyes, and fanciers of Budgerigars are no exception to this rule.

The introduction of the first Lutino, a clear yellow bird with a red eye, in the 1870s made quite a commotion, but this strain did not remain dominant for very long. C.P. Arthur was a fancier from Great Britain who was responsible for producing the first Lutino mutation at the tail end of the 19th century and the beginning of this century. Again, as is the case with the majority of mutations, the cause was either a genetic accident or a deviation. In his book “Budgerigars and Cockatiels,” Mr. Arthur recounts an incident in which he was cleaning two eggs that had been contaminated with excrement from the nest by placing them in boiling water. After cleaning the eggs, he placed them back in the nest, even though he did not anticipate that they would hatch. They did hatch, and both babies were bright yellow with red eyes, but the mutation couldn’t be positively identified. The use of additional experimental eggs that were heated in hot water did not result in the production of any additional Lutinos as planned. The stunning lutino and, to a lesser extent, its counterpart, the albino, are attracting a massive amount of attention and admiration from people all over the world these days.

Lacewing Budgerigars are another mutation that have a look that is comparable to that of Lutino and Albino Budgerigars. These birds have a body color that is either yellow (in the green series) or white (in the blue series), and they also have red eyes. Although the interest in this variation may be lower than that in either of the other two Ino kinds, it nevertheless manages to pique the curiosity of many people, including myself. The aforementioned variations are all the result of one and the same factor. This has the effect of removing the melanin, which is the black pigment found in the feathers and even in the eyes of the bird, and as a result, the bird will change color from green or blue to a bright yellow or white, and its eyes will take on a reddish hue. Because of their transparent body color, which can be yellow or white, the Lacewing kind has an appearance that is comparable to that of the Lutino and Albino types. Cinnamon brown coloring can be seen on the cheeks, the rear of the head, the neck, the wings, and the tail. They feature throat spots that are a well-defined cinnamon brown color and their cheek patches are a delicate violet color as opposed to a silvery white color like the Ino variety. Their feet are fleshy pink, and the cocks have fleshy pink ceres as well. The eyes are the same color as those of the Inos, red with a white ring around the iris.

Since 1948, the Lacewing variety has been the subject of breeding efforts. It was noted that hens appeared in a Lutino stud that was matched with a Lutino hen from a Light Green cock of unknown origin. The history of the cock is unknown. It would appear that these ‘badly’ marked Lutinos and their siblings who had normal markings were eliminated. The late Cyril Rogers was successful in locating and acquiring one of these normal offspring cocks, and the Lacewing variety was developed as a result of mating these cocks to a number of normal hens. Some of those Lacewings were shipped to a variety of locations throughout the world, including South Africa, where the company went on to achieve even more success. At the 1951 National Exhibition, Cyril displayed the first Lacewing, and it wasn’t until late 1968 that the Budgerigar Society established a standard for the variety. The late Alf Ormerod and Brian Byles brought back examples of this variety from South Africa while they were on a judging visit, and they successfully bred those examples back in the United Kingdom. This resulted in a resurgence of interest in the variety. The South African breed appeared to have much more pronounced and distinct marks, which is likely why there was a larger interest in them.

My first pair of Lacewings, of the Byles strain, came into my possession in 1977, and I had a fair amount of success with them up until 1979, when I stopped raising birds for a period of three years. In 1983, I was able to purchase a nice pair of Lacewings from the late Alf Ormerod, which led to my return to the hobby. Because this variety is sex-linked, just as the Ino, cocks, but not hens, can be divided for the Lacewing trait, whereas hens cannot. The genetic theory of sex-linked recessive inheritance dictates that hens can only have one of two possible appearances: either visual Lacewing or non-Lacewing.

When paired with non-Lacewings (for the sake of simplicity, let’s use the word “normal”), the following combinations are among the conceivable pairings with this variety:

1Lacewing cock x Lacewing Hen50% Lacewing cocks50% Lacewing hens
2Lacewing cock x normal hen50% normal/Lacewing cocks50% Lacewing hens
3Normal cock x Lacewing hen50% normal/Lacewing cocks50% normal hens
4Normal/Lacewing cock x Lacewing hen25% Lacewing cocks25% normal/Lacewing cocks25% Lacewing hens25% normal hens
5Normal/Lacewing cock x normal hen25% normal cocks25% normal/Lacewing cocks25% Lacewing hens25% normal hens

Because of this, we will have a much easier time determining which combination results in the greatest number of Lacewings being produced. It is also important to create the variety to an exhibition standard in terms of size, shape, and demeanor of an exhibition Budgerigar, paired with the deep body color contrast, clarity, and depth of the wing marking. This is one of the most important aspects. A combination that is difficult to accomplish yet not unattainable at the same time.

Two years ago, the Amos & Thumwood collaboration reached new heights when they won best in show at a championship show with a Lacewing Yellow cock. This accomplishment catapulted them to the top of the industry. The suffusion of the green or blue in the body color is an undesired defect, just like the Ino. The use of the gray factor birds is one method that can be utilized to guarantee that this suffusion will not take place (Greys and Grey Greens). However, this has the unintended consequence of reducing the vibrancy of the body color if it is used often.

The production of Lacewings with a coloration similar to buttercup yellow should be the objective, and choosing dark factor birds as breeding mates will go a long way toward attaining that goal. The rich cinnamon brown marking on the wings, mantle, and other parts of the animal should also be taken into consideration. On the best way to accomplish that goal, there are two schools of opinion.

While there is a school of thinking that advocates for the use of normals as partners, there is another school of thought that advocates for the use of cinnamon birds. It is possible to say that the cinnamon will water down the body color, especially the markings on the wings. The difficulty of the endeavor, which consists of generating a quality Lacewing with the appropriate branding, is readily obvious, and this is where the struggle lies.

My personal preference is to just outcross Lacewings to normals and not to include any other types in the mix. Having said that, there is scientific proof that the Lacewing is in fact a Cinnamon Ino. This evidence comes from the study that Dr. Trevor Daniel did in the early 1980s. He went about confirming his theory by mating an Ino to a Cinnamon and then cross-breeding the offspring, which led to the eventual production of a Lacewing. This is because the cinnamon gene and the ino gene are situated on the chromosome in very close proximity to one another, which results in a process known as “genetic crossover.” Despite this, many people who are passionate about the Lacewing believe that it is a mutation in its own right and have voiced their disagreement with this notion. Regardless of whose explanation one chooses to subscribe to, there is no denying that the Lacewing is a stunning variety that deserves a spot of its own on the show bench.

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