Danish Pied Budgie: Breeding Recessive Pieds Mutation

Danish Recessive Pieds: The First Pied Budgerigar Mutation

Cinnamon cockatiel
Cinnamon cockatiel

The “Danish Pied,” which is better known to fanciers in general as the Recessive Pied, is the only lesser variety that has achieved as much progress in the previous two decades as it has. No other lesser variety has come close. The progression made by this variety can be demonstrated most clearly by analyzing the entries submitted to the Budgerigar Society (BS) Club Show over the course of several years and making comparisons between them.

As a novice exhibitor, I participated in the 1973 British Show with two Recessive Pied cats: one adult and one breeder. Back then, there was only one Challenge Certificate available, and there was only one class for cock and hen (CC). With the juvenile bird, I was able to win the Champion Cup as well as the award for the best Recessive Pied in Show. There were seven entries in the adult category, and six entries in the breeder category, all of which came from six different exhibitors. There were just three entries in the adult class and five entries in the breeder class for the champion part. The support for this segment was quite low. Just two exhibitors participated in that particular segment.

When I won the adult CC and best Recessive Pied in 1987 as a champion exhibitor (having earlier won CCs in same variety in 1977, 1978, 1983, 1984, and 1985), there were twenty-nine exhibits in the cock class from which my CC winner came, and there were only twelve entries in the hen class. There were twenty-one entries submitted for the champion breeder cock class, whereas only fourteen were received for the hen class. Just for the champion area, there were sixteen people who exhibited their work. There were nine and five exhibits in the adult cock and hen classes, respectively, in the beginner section, whereas the breeder classes had an entry of fourteen and seven, respectively. The beginner section was not as well supported as the champion section, but it was still a significant improvement over that of 1973. There were seven different exhibitors in that particular segment. On the other hand, the breeder CC winner was found in the beginner breeder cock class, just as it was for me in 1973.

In 1990, when I once again triumphed in the adult cock class and was awarded the CC and Best Recessive Pied in Show honors, the numbers were roughly the same as in 1987. The champion sector had a total of twenty-six, twelve, twenty-two, and eleven entries from exhibitors, whereas the novice part had nine, four, four, and three entries from exhibitors. There were fifteen exhibitors in the champion section. It is just a coincidence, but the champions in the years 1973, 1987, and 1990 were all grey-green cocks, with the last two winners being a father and son pair.

The improvement that was discussed earlier is made very evident by this comparison. When I think back to my early years in this variety, the fancy in general used to make their typical cheerful and critical remarks to the few people who wished to specialize in this variety and commit their efforts to its development. Because it is generally accepted that any fancier who breeds and exhibits lesser varieties becomes typecast as a “specialist,” I and a few others, such as my two friends Jim Rowe and Mike Ingham, came to be known as specialist Recessive Pied breeders, and we have competed against each other on the show bench ever since then. This is due to the fact that it is well accepted that any fancier who breeds and exhibits lesser varieties becomes typecast as a “specialist.” The atmosphere is completely different now due to the fact that there are numerous exhibitors of this sort all across the different sections. Although there are now many more people in our group, we are still referred to as “specialists.” In addition, it is important to point out that the three of us are still in the driver’s seat with this variety after fifteen years; Jim won the BS Club Show in 1986, Mike won it in 1988, and I won it in 1987 and 1990. This is an important fact that deserves to be brought out.

In order to determine the cause of the Recessive Pied’s meteoric surge in popularity, some background information beginning with the breed’s introduction to this nation in 1948 could be helpful.


Since the early 1920s, numerous types of Budgerigars with pied or variegated plumage have been spotted, and their appearance can be traced all the way back to this time period. But the Danish Recessive Pied was the first Pied mutation to be properly established, and the Green and Yellow cock that was shown in Copenhagen at a bird exhibition in 1932 was the progenitor of the breed that became known as the Danish Recessive Pied.
In 1948, Cyril Rogers obtained his stock from the late Herr C. af Enehjelm, who was serving at that time as the Curator of Helsinki Zoological Gardens in Finland. This was the first time that a mutation of this kind had been brought into this country. In 1950, Cyril participated in a Cambridge exhibition for the first time and displayed this particular variety there.

The brilliant coloring of these birds is typically what draws in the majority of breeders, and the birds themselves have a very colorful appearance overall. Due to the fact that it is a recessive mutation, it is significantly more challenging to breed to exhibition standards. When compared to the process of integrating dominant qualities, the process of incorporating the myriad of genes that go into producing high-quality show specimens of a strain of any recessive trait is significantly more difficult.

Breeding Pattern

As for how the Danish Pied is passed down through generations, the pied pattern is a recessive trait in comparison to the normal pattern, and their technique of manufacturing functions as a straightforward autosomal recessive gene. The term “Normal” refers to a Budgerigar that does not have a pied pattern. As a result of this, its expectation table may be easily determined (regardless of whether or not the subject is male or female):

Recessive Pied × Normal100% Normal/Recessive Pied
Recessive Pied × Normal/Recessive Pied50% Recessive Pied
50% Normal/Recessive Pied
Recessive Pied × Recessive Pied100% Recessive Pied
Normal/Recessive Pied × Normal/Recessive Pied25% Recessive Pied
50% Normal/Recessive Pied
25% Normal
Normal/Recessive Pied × Normal50% Normal/Recessive Pied
50% Normal

One must be aware that this particular variety is not a sex-linked one; hence, the expectations stated above do not depend on which parent carries which genotype, and the expectation is applicable to both males and females. There are occasional instances in which persons with Normal or Recessive Pieds show a little clear region on the back of the head. This is referred to as a “split for convenience.”

Those specialists who were mentioned earlier came to the realization that the only way to make progress with this variety was to pair the best recessive pied with the best available normal, or even to a dirty-headed opaline as long as it was of good size. This was the only way to ensure that the pied recessive would be passed on to the normal. Splits, also known as initial splits, will be created, and they will be of a high enough quality to be paired with recessive pieds. This will ensure that the ideal recessive pieds are generated during the subsequent breeding season.

Only combination 1 and 2 have been used by me (from table above). In a previous post, I mentioned that the only way to make progress is to continue outcrossing to the best above Normals that are now available. I was likewise of the opinion that pairing 3 was a waste of time from the perspective of the quality, but of course, it was excellent for the number. In 1988, on the other hand, I found myself with a limited supply of split hens to use for breeding Recessive Pied cocks. Because of the death of one of my split hens, which had been coupled with the winner of my club show in 1987, I was compelled to pair him with a recessive pied hen. The first round of breeding resulted in the production of two Recessive Pied cocks, while the second round only produced one. While his two brothers did not reach the same level of success as his sister, one of the first round chicks went on to become a show stopper (for that variety).

Unfortunately, it appears as though that bird is unwilling to develop its flight and tail feathers; one could say it is experiencing a mild and permanent case of French moult. Although a number of breeders, including successful champions, appear to adopt this form of pairing, I am unable to come to a conclusion on whether or not I support it. Although I continue to perform that kind of combo on occasion, I have not yet produced another stormer.

When it comes to matching 4, serious breeders should give it some thought if the quality of their splits is significantly higher than the quality of their recessive pieds. It is possible that one could strike it rich and generate an example of this kind that is satisfactory. However, pet stores should be the destination for the non-Recessive Pied chicks that make up 75% of the total production.

In my perspective, pairing 5 is a complete waste of time. A combination like this is unlikely to result in any positive outcomes. The additional challenge, of course, lies in being able to differentiate between the normals and the splits.


Let’s take a closer look at the potential problems associated with this kind now. To begin, let’s have a look at the Budgerigar Society Color Standard for the Recessive Pied Light Green, which was last revised in the year 1994.

  • Mask

Buttercup yellow in color, with up to six large, round, black dots uniformly placed across the throat (where present), the two spots on the extremities of the yellow being partially concealed by the patches on the cheeks. The buttercup yellow of the mask extended all the way over the forehead and crown, blending perfectly with the black undulations towards the back of the skull. It is important that the frontal and crown areas be clean and devoid of any marks.

  • Cheek Patches

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

  • Coloration of the Body in General

Uneven patches of buttercup yellow and vivid grass green, with the latter coloration primarily found on the lower breast, rump, and underparts of the bird.

  • Markings on cheeks, back of head, neck and wings

Should be black undulations or polka dots on a buttercup yellow ground, with both the pattern and distribution being random, and should encompass roughly 10–20 percent of the overall wing area.

  • Primary Wing Flights

The color is buttercup yellow, however it may have the occasional black feather.

  • Primary Tail Feathers

Yellow with a clear or hazy appearance, or a dark blue color.

  • Cere

Pinkish-fleshy in roosters and brownish in hens.

  • Beak

hued orange in color.

  • Feet and Legs


  • Eyes

The color is deep and consistent, and there is no visible iris ring.

The eye is the single special distinguishing feature of Recessive Pieds, and it is also the only method to distinguish them from barely marked Dominant Pieds or Clearflights. This is because the eye is the only organ that can see color.

Despite this, the champion division of the BS World Show in 1987 had two examples of this variety that did not conform to the requirements of the category. A Recessive Pied Spangle was shown, and both of its eyes displayed the characteristic white ring around the iris. A single component Spangle/Recessive Pied hen and a Recessive Pied cock were used in the breeding process to produce this bird. In turn, the Spangle was produced by mating a double factor Spangle cock with a Recessive Pied hen; the resulting offspring were all single factor Spangle/Recessive Pied combinations. The question that has to be answered is why the white iris ring is present in that recessive pied spangle. That is the result of your genetic makeup. The other bird’s coloring gave it the look of a Dominant Pied, even down to the blue, but it did not have a white iris ring like the Dominant Pied does. The legitimacy of one or both of the exhibits that are being displayed in the Recessive Pied class is open to question. It would have been interesting to watch the results of the offspring produced by those two birds in question, provided that hopefully they were both able to successfully mate during that particular season. Since the Spangle was mine to begin with, I was able to keep a close eye on how things turned out. Both of the birds were unable to make it to the breeding pen before their fate was sealed.


There are two modifications to the Budgerigar Society Colour Standards – 1989 for Recessive Pieds that I would like to see implemented. The first is the assertion on the total number of locations (present from one to full number). There is a sizable population of recessive pieds that are completely spotless in appearance. They are constantly present on the show bench, where they consistently win specials. It would be preferable if the phrase stated “present from none to full number,” rather than the way it is currently written. The second one states that the markings on the wings “should not cover more than 15-20 percent of the entire area.” Again, breeders of Recessive Pied dogs will likely concur with me that it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to guarantee such a thin percentage margin at times. Hens with the recessive Pied gene often have darker markings on their wings. Perhaps a more practical approach would be to allow for some degree of flexibility, say up to 30 percent. The Budgerigar Society Color Standard – 1994 has been newly amended, and this update has gone a long way toward satisfying those essential adjustments.
The head quality, or rather the lack thereof, is another potential issue associated with this cultivar. Is it typical of this type to have heads that are on the smaller side and more elongated than average? Because recessive varieties like Yellows and Whites also exhibit the desirable head characteristic of huge normals, it is impossible to establish that this is due to the fact that they are of a recessive variety.

One can’t help but ponder whether or not the most knowledgeable specialists have reached a dead end in terms of improvement with this variety; I certainly hope not…

VarietySize, shape, balance and deportmentSize and shape of head including mask and spotsColourVariety markings
Recessive Pied35251525¹

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