Breeding Spangles: Budgerigar Gene Mutation, Colors & More


Axolotl Color Morphs: 15 Types With...
Axolotl Color Morphs: 15 Types With Pictures

There has been no other mutation in the Budgerigar gene pool that has generated as much enthusiasm as the Spangle.

It’s possible that this is as a result of the fact that the Dominant Pied was the final mutation to arrive in the UK in the year 1958. As a result, the arrival of the Spangle was greeted with a sense of anticipation by those who heard the news. According to what has been previously written about this variety by our well respected fancier, the late Alf Ormerod, and that knowledgeable Australian, John Scoble, the mutation first occurred in an aviary of a fancier in Traralgon, Victoria, Australia, who was breeding on the colony system. This information comes from what has already been written about this variety. Melvyn Jones, a collector from the same general region, purchased the original stock, and by 1974 he had developed the variety. It was established by the initial breeder of the Spangle that the Dark-Eyed Clear White hen was the parent of the very first Spangle that he produced. It’s possible that the father was a Dominant Pied divided Recessive Pied who was using the same nestbox as that hen. This breeder had a large number of recessive pieds (called Harlequins in Australia). On the other hand, there are also tales that say the mother was really a recessive pied instead. Frank Gardner, a well-respected judge from Victoria, was the one who gave the variety its name. He did so because the bird, in terms of the markings on its wings, reminded him of a Spangle pigeon that he had previously maintained.

A few years later, in July of 1980, a young Swiss man named Rolf Christen brought a handful of these birds back to Switzerland from Australia, where he was living at the time, in order to show them to his parents. The shipment had 12 birds total, with four Clearwings and eight Spangles making up the total (7 cocks, one of which was a double factor and a hen). After that, in October of that year, he bred with them, and then he sold one pair to Joe Mannes. He then sold the rest of them, with with their records and their pups, to Reinhard Molkentin in Germany, before he returned to Australia in March of 1981. Both Alf and Doug Sadler were successful in acquiring this type, and Doug’s buddy Reinhard in Germany served as the source of Doug’s supply. Even if there are allegations and counter-allegations about their nation of origin and how they came to be in our country, we do not place a great lot of importance on any of those things.

My first encounter with Rolf was at the BS club event in 1980, and he was the one who first showed me color images of this novel and fascinating mutation. The obvious presence of massive, black spangling that stood out on the wings was unmistakable. The majority of collectors who saw those images were awestruck by the intricate pattern colouring of the wings, which gave the impression that they were quite lovely to look at. It worked out well for the British fanciers that Alf and Doug got them first since, because to their extensive collection of high-quality stud birds, they were able to rapidly breed Spangles that excelled in both quality and number despite the short amount of time they had to do so. Because they were sent to such a large number of collectors throughout the nation, the variety gained a solid foothold in the UK in a very short amount of time.

New Mutation

What factors contribute to the development of a mutation? A genetic accident that causes a gene or a group of genes to alter; in other words, it is a departure from the original “wild-type” gene that causes a mutation to develop. Mutations may occur in both humans and other organisms. What we have here with the Spangle is a disruption in the feather gene that is normally seen in “wild-type” birds. This disruption promotes the manifestation of the trait, to a lesser degree, by reversing the dark pigmentation on the wing feathers and other regions. It was also found out that the gene that controls the production of this variety has a dominant character, which means that it may be present in either a single or double factor depending on how many copies of it there are.


At this point, it would be helpful to have a basic understanding of what a Spangle is. In the following paragraphs, I shall paraphrase the Color Standard that the Budgerigar Society outlined in its Colour Standards 1994 Handbook for this particular type.

Spangle Light Green

  • Mask

Yellowish-buttercup in color, with six uniformly spaced huge circular black dots on the neck that have yellow centers; the outer two spots on the throat are partly concealed by the base of the cheek patches. The buttercup-yellow color of the mask extended across the frontal and crown regions of the head, where it merged with the black undulations towards the rear of the skull. It is important that the frontal and crown areas be clean and devoid of any marks.

  • Cheek patches

The color might be violet, white, or a combination of the two.

  • General body colour

Bright grass green may be seen on the rump, breast, flanks, and underparts of this bird. The coloration is consistent and uniform throughout.

  • Markings

Black with a well-defined buttercup-yellow edge that is bordered with black, plus a further buttercup-yellow edge, may be found on the cheeks, back of the head, and neck of the creature.

  • Primary wing flights

yellowish-buttercup with a thinly outlined black border.

  • Primary tail feathers

yellow with a buttercup undertone or yellow with black edging.

  • Feet and legs

Mottled with blue and grey, fleshy pink, or a combination of the two colors

  • Eyes

Having a black iris and a black pupil.

Double Factor Spangle Yellow (green series)

  • Mask, frontal and crown

Buttercup-yellow. There shouldn’t be any blemishes or marks evident on the mask. It is important that the frontal and crown areas be clean and devoid of any marks.

  • Cheek patches


  • General body colour

The ideal yellow coloration would be light, medium, dark, or gray all over, depending on the number of dark factors or gray factors that are present in the genetic make-up. The yellow color should be free of any odd green feathers or green suffusion, but a slight collar of color around the neck is acceptable.

  • Wings

yellow buttercup that does not have any black or grizzled ticking or green suffusion in it.

  • Primary wing flights

A shade or two lighter than the body’s natural color.

  • Primary tail feathers

A shade or two lighter than the body’s natural color.

  • Cere

When compared to hens, cocks have a blue coloration.

  • Feet and legs

Mottled with blue and grey, fleshy pink, or a combination of the two colors

  • Eyes

Having a black iris and a black pupil.

In addition to this, it is well acknowledged that the Spangle character may be mixed plainly with the majority of other types.

As a result, it is clear from the above description that the main distinguishing characteristics of this variation are the spots, the tail, and, to a lesser degree, the cheek patches. This is because the typical varieties have wing markings that are the opposite of those of this variety. Perhaps this is something that we as breeders, exhibitors, and judges need to bear in mind as well.

Breeding Pattern

In the early stages of the experimentation, it was determined that the breeding behavior of this newly mutated species had a dominating trait. As a result, the gene may exist in either a single factor (SF) or a double factor (DF). For the vast majority of dominant types, the only way to differentiate single-factor birds from double-factor birds is to subject them to a series of matings with a “normal.” When referring to birds, “normal” refers to those that are known to be free of the gene in issue. Keeping in mind that it is physically impossible for any bird that has a “normal” appearance to be “divided” into the Spangle variety (or any dominant variety). However, in the case of the Spangle, the double component may be distinguished from the single in a straightforward manner, as the preceding explanation suggests.

Therefore, the Spangle may be produced by applying certain rules (Mendel’s Theory of Inheritance), and these laws are as follows:

Spangle (SF) × Normal50% Spangles (SF)
50% Normals
Spangle (DF) × Normal100% Spangles
Spangle (SF) × Spangle (SF)25% Spangles (DF)
50% Spangles (SF)
25% Normals
Spangle (SF) × Spangle (DF)50% Spangles (SF)
50% Spangles (DF)
Spangle (DF) × Spangle (DF)100% Spangles (DF)

I am unable to provide a genetic explanation for why double factor Spangles seem to be devoid of any hue to the human sight, in a manner similar to that of dark-eyed clears. It would seem that the presence of this twofold dosage of the Spangle gene results in an effect that significantly reduces the bird’s capacity to acquire dark pigmentation. This is the case since the Spangle gene generates this impact. They are similar to Dark-Eyed Whites and Yellows in appearance, but lack the iris ring that is often seen around the eyes. During the process of moulting, some of these double factors will start to reveal some of their previously hidden plumage. However, the most important thing that will happen is that they will develop a white iris ring around their eyes as well as a blue cere (in cocks), which will allow for easy differentiation from Dark-eyed Clears. There are several double factors that will display a collar of darkened color around the region of the neck. The single factor birds are easy to identify in the nest due to the pinkish hue of their skin as well as the color of their feathers.

Are Spangles Ruined?

Within the span of little more than 10 years, this variety has been coupled with practically every other variety, including Normals, Opalines, Cinnamons, Pieds, Clearwings, Yellows, Whites, Yellow-faces, and Redeyes, amongst many others. I have successfully produced Yellow, Dominant Pied, and Recessive Pied in the Spangle combination, but I have not yet succeeded in breeding the Crest. The Spangles that were made during this time period had little relation, other than in terms of size, to the Spangles that I saw in the year 1980. So, why have we ruined this wonderfully diverse collection? Was it the obsession with creating size that caused us to lose sight of the basic goal, which was to raise birds with a decent size paired with excellent spangling on the wings and the bulls-eye spots?

My first assumption was that only the Normal Spangles would have the ideal wing markings, but I’ve now learned that this is no longer the case. I have some Spangles that, based on their outward appearance, may be mistaken for Opaline Spangles (due to the background color of the wings being replaced by the color of the bird’s body), however genetically speaking, they reproduce as Normals if they are coupled with other Normals. We are creating Spangles that are winning best in show and section in the most competitive competitions all throughout the nation. We have, however, lost some of our coloring in the process of becoming larger. The question now is, what is the solution?

There are two types of breeders: those that want to “improve” the variety by mating it with their finest Normals, ideally keeping in mind the goals of spangling on the wings and bulls-eye spots, and those who just want to breed for their own enjoyment. On the other hand, there are individuals who are attempting to ascertain and establish the origin of the variety by crossing the Spangle with a number of other types.

Since we have successfully stabilized the size of the bird, the next step is to carefully and selectively breed it in order to stabilize the numerous Spangle traits. It is not an easy assignment, but it is a one that is attainable. During his presentation to the members of the Spangled Budgerigar Breeders Association, Jeff Attwood brought up the possibility of using Normals that had been produced by the mating of Spangles and Normals. According to him, this has the potential to help to the production of Spangles with the desired wing marking.


If the Spangle is a really dominating character, then it shouldn’t make much of a difference to us whose partner we pair it with, should it? There have been many abnormalities produced by the breeding of Spangles. A Spangle Recessive Pied that I produced in the year 1988 had recognizable iris bands around the eyes of both of its offspring. The dominant pied head patch has been seen in a few of the Spangles that have been bred. There are those that just have black patches and none of the bull’s-eye markings. Recently, I came across an adult double factor Spangle that lacked the iris ring that normally surrounds the eyes. Black patterns on the wings or black tail feathers are becoming more common as a result of selective breeding. The most frequent mistake, without a doubt, is mismatching the black border on the wing feather with that of the body color; for example, a Light Green would have a green wing marking instead of a black one.

The recent discovery of the generation of Normals via the mating of double factor Spangle to Normal has drawn our attention to the existence of an oddity (second pairing). This should not be possible according to the principles of genetics, which state that only Spangles with a single component should be formed. This is not an unique incident; in fact, it has occurred on several other times in a variety of locations all over the globe. Is it possible that the gene in question is what’s known as a “semi-dominant” gene?

Spangles have been seen to have a head patch that is very similar to that of the Dominant Pied variety. This is just another piece of evidence suggesting that there may be a genetic connection between the two types of cats.

A fancier who breeds Spangles with the intention of exhibiting them should limit themselves to breeding just the variety and color combination that is allowed in the appropriate class for exhibiting Spangles. My opinion is that breeding Spangles in the Pied or Yellow-face kind serves no purpose other than to produce color variations. Pied Spangles are going to lose their beautiful appearance in both of their variants. When you look at a Yellow-faced Spangle, you’ll notice that there’s a yellowish tint to the white parts of the bird (wing and tail). It will be difficult to recognize a White or Yellow Spangle if they are suffused. The cinnamon factor has a propensity to reduce the heavy spangling on the wings, while opalines have a tendency to modify the black edging on the wing feathers to match the color of the bird’s body. Both of these tendencies are related to cinnamon.

Exhibition and Judging

As a result of the breed’s growing notoriety, all shows have begun to include Spangles classes within their overall structure (BS mandatory classification). The instruction that was issued by the Budgerigar Society in reference to the new standard classification must be followed by show-promoting organisations. Specifically, classes must be phrased to allow for “Any Variety” Spangles, which includes Double Factor Spangles in both cocks and hens. In addition to this, the BS has established a color preference for the presentation of the Spangle. You may have a Spangle-Crest, Spangle, Dominant Pied, Recessive Pied, Yellow-Face, or any other color you like. The sequence in which the bird in issue is introduced into the competition should be determined by the combinations it has. For instance, in the Crest class, an exhibitor must enroll their Crested Dominant Pied Spangle if they want to compete with it. Within the Spangle class, there will be an entry for a Spangle Dominant Pied.

At a championship show I attended a few years ago, there were classes for Normal Spangle cock, Any Variety Spangle cock, and Any Variety Spangle hen. Unfortunately, I did not win any of those classes, and it was a very sad experience for me (prior to the mandatory classification). I quickly realized when I was assessing the cock classes that a significant number of the birds were going to be placed in the incorrect category. At the conclusion of the day, I was required to re-categorize around forty percent of the cocks. The challenge consisted in visually distinguishing between the Normal and the Opaline in the Spangle, which was the source of the problem. There is no clear answer to be found. According to the advice of a recognized judge, a bird is an Opaline Spangle rather than a Normal if the body color blends into the wing marking in such a way that it cannot be distinguished between the two. What happens, though, if the bird breeds as a Normal instead of an Opaline, meaning that it does not spawn any Opaline hens? This is an important issue to take into consideration.

The following are the stipulations that are included in the new updated Scale of Points that were outlined by the Budgerigar Society in the Colour Standards 1994:

VarietySize, Shape, Balance and DeportmentSize and Shape of Head including Mask and SpotsColourVariety Markings
Spangles(in all shades and Varieties)35251525
Spangles Double Factor352540¹

The size of the bird is given a far greater weight of consideration here than it is in any of the other types (60 points for size and head). It had been set at 65 in the prior Standard. If the wing marking of the Spangle is the most important factor in determining its quality, then the previous standard only awarded it 5 points. It seems to me that the marking on the wings would not make a huge difference in the outcome of the competition, regardless of the category the bird was entered into. The mere existence of this information did not inspire breeders to produce Spangles of the appropriate size with the proper wing marking. When it comes to assessing this variety, any flaws in the wing marking or the color of the spots may either be disregarded by the judge or given a mild penalty for the purpose of the size of the size of the bird. This is because the judge takes into consideration the size of the size of the bird. Are we not placing an excessive amount of importance on size? On the other hand, the revisions that were made to the Scale of Points in 1994 were very well received by the fancy as a whole. There is no room for debate on the significance of “variety content,” as shown by the implementation of “Variety marking” and the allotment of 25 points.

You may find out more about The Spangled Budgerigar Breeders’ Association by visiting the website located at It is strongly suggested that you become a member of this Association if you want to breed and display specimens of this type. The assistance and guidance that you will get will be of tremendous value, and it will enable you to stay in contact with other breeders of the variety.

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