It Pays To Specialize


Budgerigar breeders often claim, ‘I don’t care what color the chicks I raise happen to be – as long as they are excellent ones.’ This is an assertion with which I disagree. I am quite particular about the colors and kinds I breed. When I couple Normals, it’s not because I want to produce Opalines and Opaline Cinnamons, or because I want to see Lutinos among my baby budgies. If I’m ever happy to see these variations in my nest-boxes, it’ll be because I set out to breed them.

Keeping Albinos and Lutinos is typically an intentional choice, however the Opaline and Cinnamon variables seem to infiltrate a stud of show budgerigars. Different colors and variations may seem to be complementary, but in my experience, one always improves at the cost of another. I tend to focus on Normals, favoring Greys and Grey Greens since they seem to be dominant over the other colors and frequently have greater quality than Greens and Blues. My results on the show bench throughout the years support the theory.

When Greens and Blues are crossed to produce Greys and Grey Greens, there is little question that the offspring in the Grey series are much more dominating than any Greens or Blues. Although I have no cause to complain about my outcomes, past experience has shown that retaining numerous types – no matter how suitable they are – makes it more difficult to develop a stud of consistent quality. One variety will always win, and it will not always be the one that the breeder like the best.

In my opinion, the best method to establish a successful stud of display budgerigars is to specialize while exercising great judgment. This may be accomplished without restricting oneself to merely exhibiting in a specific class when it comes to showcasing. You may always include one or two samples of a color you like.

I am sure that adding new variations, such as Opaline or Cinnamon, to a stud of Normal is considerably more detrimental than adding a new color, such as Dark Green or Cobalt, to a stud of Greys and Grey Greens. Cobalt has always been a color I adored, however I admired it from afar since it is so difficult to get in display quality, particularly when compared to the Skyblues.

Last year, I bought one of Jo Mannes’ excellent Cobalt cocks, which altered everything. My buddy Jo also let me have a fantastic Dominant Pied Grey cock, which is thankfully hiding Cobalt. Having bred from both cocks, my objective is to couple together the finest of the chicks in the hopes of breeding that spectacular Cobalt.

Historically, Dark factor birds have a propensity to lower the stud’s display quality. However, given Jo’s success with Dark Shadows, I am certain that the quality will be maintained.

Lutinos are a popular topic for specialization, and I understand the challenges their breeders face when bringing in an outcross. I sometimes hear them having extensive debates about how to improve their red-eyes, but I have yet to hear them reach an agreement. Introducing an outcross might be a risk for any established stud. Its consequences may be quite complicated, often lying concealed for generations. In the end, an outcross might do more damage than benefit. It is important to remember that inside each budgerigar lies an amalgamation of all of its predecessors’ characteristics, all of which are waiting to be revealed.

Although one hopes that a good line-bred or in-bred stud will be pure enough to withstand the worst that an unwisely selected outcross can inflict on it, there is no assurance that the new bird’s qualities will not dominate the appearance and breeding ability of the progeny.

When you’re just starting out and wanting to create a bloodline, you can purchase a fine bird in the hopes that it would accomplish exactly that. However, when a winning lineage has already been established, it might be rather undesired. Keeping colors pure is the first step in preserving a stud’s personality. Having stated that, the realities of life must be acknowledged. You can’t inbreed indefinitely since every lineage needs to reach a peak at some point. Then the quality starts to deteriorate.

If you are unable to bring in the birds you want, you may have to settle for second best in terms of color and diversity. It is then required to screen the offspring you produce to ensure that only those with the genes for the desired color are kept.

Because of feather issues that affected a couple of my better chicks last year, I opted to choose a bird with less feather but still enough to be compatible with my other birds. It helped that it was an Opaline Cinnamon Cobalt. The pedigree was excellent, with birds earning top prizes throughout the previous show season. When paired with a Normal Grey hen from the Cobalt line, it may be advantageous in keeping the Dark component while also perhaps minimizing the feather issue. The hens would all be Opaline Cinnamon, while the cocks would divide. What’s more, all of the hens may be utilized in my Opaline Cinnamon stud, while the cocks can be coupled with the Normals.

In fact, if chromosomal crossing occurs, as it often does, the occasional Opaline Cinnamon hen will be found among the young. The young cocks will be more troublesome. They will all seem normal, but some will have the undesired Opaline Cinnamon genes, which can only be determined by test mating. All hens with normal colors, on the other hand, may be securely kept since they do not possess the Opaline Cinnamon component.

This graphic depicts the extremes to which you must go to strengthen your stud, and the only way to eradicate any undesired genes is via selective breeding. However, everything worthwhile seldom comes easy. The major challenge, in my opinion, is to keep the stud pure while maintaining a high degree of show quality. Of course, it takes commitment and devotion not to get blown away, but there are many budgerigar enthusiasts who work hard to stay loyal to their favorite color or type.

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