Lovebirds Breeding & Essential Genetic Variation Knowledge For Breeders


I travel around the UK quite a bit delivering illustrated speeches about Lovebirds and have often been requested to give into depth on the color expectations of different pairs throughout the years. If we have a rudimentary grasp of genetics, it will be much simpler to arrange our breeding program.

However, many fanciers confess to having little previous understanding of the issue, and although many members are highly eager, time seldom allows for more than the most cursory answers to particular inquiries, and several of these members have requested me to create some assistance for them. As a result, I’ve written a brief series of writings on the issue, which I hope will assist members in coming to grips with it. Do not be afraid of it. Anyone willing to read the articles should be able to comprehend them. I’ll go over everything in phases, and all big terms will be properly explained when they first appear, and if space allows, these explanations will be repeated at random throughout the series.

First, some essential questions and answers:

What exactly is genetics?

The study of how traits inherited from parents are transmitted down to subsequent generations.

How would knowing about genetics benefit me?

It will assist you in producing certain mutations in the fewest feasible pairings, as well as understanding why two similar birds may generate a wide range of colors in their chicks, allowing you to grasp the make-up of the parents and perhaps determine their lineage.

Why do such lengthy words exist?

To save space! A “scientific” term (such as “genetics”), like any other, has a dictionary meaning that may be a sentence or more long. If all users agree on the meaning, using this first unfamiliar term saves a lot of time when the particular notion often comes up in a certain situation. Don’t be concerned about their pronunciation; they sound just how they appear.

How reliable is genetic science?

Very accurate for the ordinary bird breeder, IF WE REMEMBER THAT ANY FORECAST OF THE OUTCOME OF A PARTICULAR PAIRING MADE ASSUMES VERY LARGE NUMBERS OF OFFSPRING, AND THAT THERE ARE OTHER PROCESSES AT WORK BEYOND THE BASIC GENES I AM ATTACHING IN THESE ARTICLES. If I were to estimate the accuracy, I would say that given 50 chicks from a certain couple, the anticipated result for any ONE specific attribute would be approximately 90% correct, if not more so. However, keep in mind that we are constantly dealing with average probability and, in many cases, more than one feature.

A Beginning

Genetics is divided into three branches.

  • The first, and most important, topic is Transmission Genetics. We marry two creatures with differing properties and study how these qualities are passed down to the next generation and future generations. “F1” is scientific jargon for “the following generation.” We then marry the F1 organisms (brother to sister1) and examine how these features are passed down to the following generation, known as “F2.” This approach is frequently referred to as Classical or Mendelian Genetics since it was utilized by a monk called Mendel in the middle of the last century.
  • The second branch, Molecular Genetics, approaches the issue from a biological standpoint. I will not go into specifics about this branch of research.
  • Population Genetics, the third branch of science, deals with variation observed within and among extremely large groups. Although this area of science originated at the level of physical appearance or “phenotype2,” most of the research today focuses on molecular variation in a population. This continues on to how species are generated and how they vary, but we don’t require this branch of genetics in a simple introduction.

Prior to Abbot Mendel’s work, it was assumed that parental qualities blended in the offspring, but Mendel discovered that this was manifestly false in many circumstances. He conducted his research using peas, and many of the subsequent investigations (which did not begin until the early twentieth century) were conducted with fruit flies. I shall, however, attempt to convert this work into Lovebird phrases in the hope that the reader would find them more familiar and hence more intelligible.
Mendel discovered that a trait, such as a feather color, may manifest itself in a variety of ways. He used green and yellow peas, but if he had utilized Peach-faced Lovebirds, he would have discovered via trial and error that if you cross a pure Marine (a more current word for Pastel Blue. We should never refer to these birds as “blue,” a color that is still being generated in this species) with a pure Light Green, you only get one color, in this instance the light green.
He inferred from this that, rather than the parents’ colors merging in the children, each parent contributed its own color by passing on some “particle,” subsequently termed as a “gene.”

  1. For simplicity, mating between brothers and sisters, fathers and daughters, and mothers and sons are often used as examples. This is, of course, a horrible practice from a practical standpoint, and knowing genetics helps to explain why.
  2. Another bit of scientific jargon; “phenotype” refers to an individual’s visible traits. So, if we examine one unique Lovebird, a Light Green (normal or wild type) Peachfaced individual, “Light Green” is the “phenotype,” regardless of its parents’ colors or other inheritable color features.

Dominance

So, why all Light Green progeny and not a combination from a coupling of a pure Marine (a more current, and shorter, word for Pastel Blue, sometimes known as “Dutch Blue”) and a pure Light Green? We have finally arrived at the concept of “DOMINANCE,” which I will now attempt to describe.

To achieve this, examine what occurs when we mate these Light Green offspring (remember, we name them F1) to generate F2 and discover that we obtain a substantial percentage of Marine chicks, which over a big enough number of chicks will be roughly one quarter.

Let us do an experiment in our thoughts. Take two huge marble bags. The original parents might be represented with a bag of light green marbles and a sack of Marine marbles. Each parent passes on one “marble” to each of its offspring, resulting in all of them having one light green and one marine marble.

Each of the children (F1) may therefore be represented by a bag holding an equal number of Pastel Blue (which I will refer to as “M”) and Light Green (“LG”) marbles for the time being. While blindfolded, remove one marble from each of these equally mixed bags to form a pair, then sort them in the same order you got them from the sacks.

Some couples will be (LG)(LG), while others will be (M)(M), and the majority will be (LG) (M). If we count them and make enough pairs without peeking, they will be in the following proportions:

  • (LG)(LG)one quarter
  • (M)(M)one quarter
  • (LG)(M)the remaining half

I believe we can all agree that the situations when the pair consists of two Marine marbles reflect our Marine chicks in F2. Those who only got light green will clearly be green, and to round out the numbers, those who received BOTH colors (one from each parent) have also shown as green.

Thus, if the factor for bright green is present, it suppresses the factor for Marine, which is still present and thus capable of being handed on to the next generation. This explains why no Marines arose in the first generation, despite the fact that ALL of the kids got a Marine gene from the Marine parent – after all, it only had Marine genes to offer.

This is referred to as “DOMINANCE.” As a result, light green is considered to be DOMINANT over marine. Marine, on the other hand, is believed to be “RECESSIVE” to Light Green.

Let us conclude this first section of the class by introducing some more terminology that may be useful while reading other literature on this topic.

“Genes” are the inheritance regulating particles that transfer from parent to child.

Birds with two identical genes for a certain feature are termed “homozygotes,” whereas birds with differing genes are called “heterozygotes.” The terms “hetero” and “homo” are also well-known in other contexts. A “zygote” is a fertilized egg.

In bird keeping, “homozygotes” are considered to be “pure” for the feature, while “heterozygotes” are generally referred to as “splits” or “carriers.” “Homozygotes” for a recessive gene (such as the Marine birds in the above example) are frequently referred to as “visuals” since the presence of a recessive gene may be seen.

Incomplete Dominance

We examined one of the most basic types of inheritance, dominance, in which the presence of one gene from a parent totally inhibits the appearance (scientifically known as “expression”) of another gene, which is known as recessive. As we shall see, this is not the only method for two genes to interact with one another. Consider the outcome of pairing Olive Green Lovebirds with Light Green companions.

In this situation, we do not create any birds that are identical to either parent, indicating that the Dominance principle discussed before is not in the action. Instead, the kids are darker than their Light Green parents but lighter than their Olive parents. While this seems to be a merging of the two, it may still be explained by the previously established method, in which each parent passes one-half of its own color makeup to its offspring. Let us repeat our experiment with the sacks.

We’ll use a bag of dark green marbles instead of the sack of Marine marbles. Drawing one marble from each bag to symbolize the F1 (first generation of children), each of which will contain one light green and one dark green (heterozygote), and the appearance (remember the term “phenotype”) will be what we call “Jade,” or a mid green. So, although the dark green gene suppresses the light green gene, it does not totally impose itself over Marine and is so classified as an INCOMPLETE dominant.

When two of this mid-green (Jade) birds mate, we obtain an F2 generation that includes:

(DG)(DG)one quarter“Olives”
(LG)(LG)one quarter“Light Green”
(LG)(DG)the remaining half“Dark Green” or “Jade”

Hopefully, you now understand these ideas well enough to remark, “That cannot be correct. There is no “dark GREEN” gene since we can generate Slates (often called Mauves, but really extremely dark Marines) and Cobalts (Dark Blues) from Olive Birds.” Excellent work!

The gene in this case is a gene for “Darkness,” and it is handed down independently of the gene for “Greenness.” This will be addressed in the future installment of this series.

Don’t forget that if you find any component challenging, please contact me so that your issue might be addressed in a follow-up post at the conclusion of the series.

Multiple Genes (1)

In the previous example, where we bred Light Green to Olive, producing all Jades, and Jade to Jade, producing one-quarter Olives, one-quarter Light Greens, and half Jades, we were dealing with the transmission of TWO genes from grandparents to grandchildren, but one of them, the gene for “Green-ness,” was the same in every individual. How can we compute the expectation if the parents’ genes are different, like if we mate a pure Olive Green to a Marine with no genes for “Darkness”? We’ll need additional marbles if we’re going to solve it the old-fashioned way. However, we must first understand each parent’s genetic makeup in connection to the features we are working with.

In this scenario, the Olive parent possesses two Darkness genes (sometimes referred to as “having two dark components”) and two Green-ness genes. The Marine must be thought of as having two Marine genes and two “NOT dark” genes. This concept of “Not…” genes is significant. Genes are designed to act in pairs, for reasons I shall discuss in the next piece. NORMALLY, birds must have two genes for each feature. (The exclusions will be addressed in a later section.) Consider each parent to be represented by TWO bags. As it contributes to the color of the kids, each parent selects one marble at random from each bag. Because we are dealing with pure (= “homozygous”) parents in this example, the pairs of marbles/genes generated by the Marine Parent will all be “Marine & Not Dark” while those produced by the Olive Parent will be “Green & Dark.” As a result, we discover that the four genes (in two pairings) in all of the children are “Marine: Green” and “Dark: Not dark.”

Before I proceed any further, examine the F1 phenotype. (Translation: What do these first-generation chicks look like?)

Multiple Genes (2)

At the end of the last session, you were instructed to investigate what phenotype is created by the two gene pairs, “Marine: Green” and “Dark: Not dark.” I hope you take the time to do so and aren’t just reading right through! Because “Green” is dominant over “Marine,” all chicks will be of the green series. We know that “Dark” is an insufficiently dominant gene, and that the combination “Dark: Not dark” produces an intermediate shade dark bird, which when paired with Green is known as a “Jade” (and combined with Marine are known as “Cobalts”). I hope that wasn’t too tough for you.

We will now mate two birds, one of each of the “Marine: Green” and “Dark: Not dark” color combinations. Before we get to the findings, I’d want to introduce you to another piece of shorthand that will make things easier now that we’re dealing with the inheritance of many characters.

A single letter may represent each GENE. A capital letter represents a dominant or partially dominant gene, whereas a tiny letter represents a recessive gene. There is a norm for the letters used for each attribute, which I shall discuss later in these articles, but for the time being, I will use letters that I think will be more understandable to the novices for whom these articles are written. Returning to the Olive x Marine example, we may write down their genetic make-up as DDMM and ddmm, respectively.

As a result, one gene from each pair will always generate DM from the Olive and DM from the Marine. As a result, each chick will have the formula DdMm. Given that Dd generates a bird of intermediate “darkness” and Mm produces a Green, our chicks from this coupling are all “Jades” divided for “Marine.” Now examine the next generation, in which we mate DdMm to DdMm.

What are the probable outcomes of selecting one “D” gene and one “M” gene at random from each pair in each bird? This is the range of gene combinations that may be handed down to the offspring: DM or Dm or dM or dm. The outcomes for the two parent F1 birds will be the same in this situation. The easiest approach to retrieve the outcomes of this mating is to create a grid with the potential gene contributions for one parent at the top as column headers and from the other parent at the beginning of each line.

Parent’s ContributionDMDmdMdm
DM    
Dm    
dM    
dm    

Fill in each grid box with the Gene set from the left end of the row and the set from the top of the column. Do it this way…

Parent’s ContributionDMDmdMdm
DMDDMMDDMmDdMMDdMm
DmDDmMDDmmDdmMDdmm
dMdDmMdDMmddMMddMm
dmdDmMdDmmddmMddmm

3“cuppa” = “a cup of tea”

Alleles

…but before, I left you with a question: Can we relate the ratios to certain forms of mating and inheritance? We certainly can. When we mate two (genetically identical) HETEROZYGOTES with a simple dominant: recessive pair of genes, we obtain a 3:1 proportion of colors. If we mate HETEROZYGOTES with an incomplete dominant pair of genes, the anticipated percentage is 1:2:1. OK?

If, as I hope, you were able to grasp and gain confidence with the preceding sections, you should already be putting your newfound knowledge to use. Let us now turn our attention to the concept of Alleles. It is not very difficult and will be one of the shorter portions.

In fact, any pair of partner genes, such as “Dark” / “Not Dark,” is referred to as “alleles.” So far, we’ve assumed that each Gene in a pair has just one potential mate. In certain circumstances, though, a particular gene has more than one possible partner. Consider the ancestors of the “Whitefaced Blue” or “Lavender.” I’ll call them “Lavender” to spare my typing fingers because although they’re not exactly lavender, they’re also neither fully white nor completely blue. For this mutation, I’ll use the code ” m’ ” I’ll refer to the lavender as ” m’m’ ” in our letter code. Because it is recessive to the “typical” Light Green gene, it has a tiny “m.” When combined with the Marine gene “m” (no “‘”), it seems to behave as an INCOMPLETE DOMINANT, giving rise to the following possibilities:

MMLight Green
mmMarine (Pastel or Dutch Blue)
‘m’Lavender
MmLight green “split for” Marine
(you remember the term HETEROZYGOTE)
Mm’Light green “split for” Lavender
mm’APPLE GREEN

In these sorts of inheritance, we may imagine that although three genes are vying for that specific piece of the master design, there is only room for two. With your newfound understanding, you should be able to predict the result of any of these combinations. Use the grid arrangement, and if necessary, go back to the DOMINANCE and INCOMPLETE DOMINANCE sections. It is interesting considering the color differences among birds that were described above as simple single-gene mutations at this point.

Experienced breeders will be well aware that the degree of blackness of the green feathers varies greatly among Jades. The blueness of Marines, Lavenders, and Apple Greens varies greatly. Some Lavenders are quite green, especially when produced from two birds of the configuration Mm’ as opposed to mm’ x m’m or m’m’ x m’m’. Another notable example of this form of inheritance is the Peach-faced Lovebird’s link between the Lutino and the Australian Cinnamon. In reality, relatively few mutations are regulated by a single gene. Other genes, of which there may be many, contribute to the phenotype and result in the more subtle changes that we perceive. These MODIFIER genes often travel along with the primary one, but for reasons we shall discuss later, they are more prone to be altered during transmission.

Chromosomes

We have previously assumed that for the sake of estimating anticipated colors, parents convey just one gene from each pair to their offspring. When and how does this occur?

After all, we’ve been talking about genes “passing round” in pairs, yet only one half of each pair is passed on to the children. This was a simplification that allowed me to describe several types of inheritance so that readers may put their new knowledge to work. Genes in “normal operating mode” really circulate in lengthy threads that, if magnified sufficiently, resemble a ladder with MILLIONS of rungs that has been twisted over its whole length. These are formed of an extremely sophisticated molecule, DNA, which most of us have heard of. These ladders include the whole blueprint for the organism’s construction and operation. However, these cells, all of which contain DNA, must split from time to time in order to create new “units.” Each of them requires a copy of the master plan.

The DNA clumps together at these moments of division and these clumps are known as CHROMOSOMES. When it comes to biological growth and healing, the master plan must be both comprehensive and similar. However, when sperm and eggs are formed, those “cells” MUST contain just HALF the genes required for a whole human in order for them to combine in the fertilized egg to make a complete “blueprint” (as opposed to two complete, but different, sets of plans, which would be useless). When cells divide TO GROW, each chromosome separates along the long axis, with each half traveling to a distinct new cell where it reconstructs its other half. As a consequence, each of the new cells has a full set of chromosomes, each of which is identical to the original cell’s set.

In contrast, when a cell divides to create sperm or eggs, half of the original chromosomes are transferred to each of the new cells. As a result, when sperm and egg combine during fertilization, a full set of chromosomes is formed from which the new creature may develop. Within any species, the number of chromosomes per cell and their form are the same. Each chromosome is fashioned like two connected sausages, but the two are quite different, and they are the regulators of the individual’s sex. Most literature refers to them as the “X” and “Y” chromosomes, however, in birds, they are more accurately referred to as the “W” and “Z” chromosomes. PLEASE READ AND REMEMBER THE FOLLOWING STATEMENT CAREFULLY. MALES IN BIRDS HAVE TWO “X” CHROMOSOMES. WOMEN HAVE ONE “X” AND ONE “Y.” I must emphasize that the statement only applies to BIRDS. In mammals, the opposite is true, which may make certain genetics textbooks difficult for beginners. (Or to the dog breeder who subsequently becomes interested in birds!)

Sex

I introduced you to the concept of chromosomes in the last part, which are tiny carriers of genes into new cells. We saw that when sex cells (sperm and eggs) are generated, only half of the chromosomes are transferred into the gamete (shorthand for a sex cell), and when the gametes unite during fertilization, a full set of chromosomes is formed, including half of each parent’s master plan. We also discovered that the new individual’s sex is determined by two specific chromosomes and that two “X” chromosomes result in a cock, and an “X” & a “Y” in a hen.

In identifying the likely sexes of chicks, we may conceive of them as a pair of sex genes, with “Y” being dominant over “X,” resulting in a female. Two “Y”s are obviously impossible since man can never provide one of these chromosomes. Make a grid for this combo as practice.

Parents ContributionXX
XXXXX
YXYXY

You claim it’s not very informative. It just demonstrates that we anticipate half cocks and half hens, as common sense and experience suggest, without having to go to the bother of drawing grids. However, it also fulfills additional functions.

For starters, we haven’t studied many pairings in which the two couples aren’t genetically identical, and this grid demonstrates how the concept may be used for such pairings in the same manner. Try a comparable grid for coupling a Green split for a Marine mated to a Marine for revision. Then try it with Jade and a Light Green. The second feature of this grid’s use arises from the fact that “X” and “Y” are NOT genes, but rather chromosomes carrying hundreds of genes, SOME OF WHICH ARE GENES FOR COLOR MUTATIONS.

Sex & Linkage (1)

We determined last time that certain genes for color mutations are carried on the sex chromosomes, which we labeled “X” and “Y.” One of them is the American Cinnamon, which is classified as a SEX-LINKED RECESSIVE. In order to understand its ancestry, I must approach the topic from the outcomes of breeding.

We mate two normal, Light Green phenotypic birds and discover a 1:3 cinnamon bird to Light Green ratio in the F1 generation. This ratio has been observed previously. When we mate two genetically identical birds that are HETEROZYGOTES with a dominant: recessive pair of genes, we obtain a 3:1 proportion of colors. However, the HEN of this couple comes from a pure breeding line of Light Greens. As a result, the cock must have some recessive component. If you recall previous portions, you will be perplexed now.

If just one parent passes a recessive gene to their child, the phenotype cannot be seen in the instances we’ve looked at thus far. I now want you to consider the formation of the letters “X” and “Y,” and imagine the “Y” as a “X” with one of its “legs” gone. “What is the moron talking about?” you ask. “What do letter forms have to do with bird genetics?” Don’t quit up just yet! Everything will be explained.

Next, I’d want to think about what happens to a gene on that leg of the “X” that is absent in the “Y.” American Cinnamon has this gene. With two “X” chromosomes, a cock bird has no trouble. A simple recessive pattern – if just one of the “X” chromosomes contains the cinnamon gene, the cock will seem normal but will be “split,” and if both have it, the bird will be cinnamon-colored. However, in the HEN, you could be tempted to believe that since she can never have two “Xs,” she will never exhibit the feature. NOT SO! In reality, the recessive gene appears in a hen in a single “dose” BECAUSE THE DOMINANT PARTNER GENE IS NOT THERE TO SUPPRESS IT. Consider this as if the gene is carried on the section of the “X” chromosome that is absent from the “Y.” How should we handle this complexity while creating our grids? We need to include “X”s and “Y”s, as well as demonstrate which “X”s contain these “sex-related” genes. So we’ll go back to our Cinnamon carrier cock (= split for Cinnamon) and a pure standard Light Green Hen coupling.

Parents Contribution(Xc)X
X(Xc)XXX
Y(Xc)YXY

In this example, I’ve shown how the “c” for American Cinnamon is “connected” to the “X” by placing them within brackets. What phenotypes have we generated? How many birds are capable of passing cinnamon to their offspring? Examine the grid carefully, and remember to figure out the bird’s gender. (XX = Cock, and XY = Hen.)

First, phenotypes. Only one “dosage” of cinnamon is feasible for the progeny, and the only birds that can display the cinnamon in a single dose are the hen chicks shown above. Hens must have a “Y,” therefore they are all on the bottom row, where we can see that half of these hens have a “X” with a “c” attached, indicating that they will be “visual cinnamons.” To put it another way, we know that any Hen that does not seem to be cinnamon does not have the gene for it. That may seem apparent, but it is a valuable notion when attempting to eliminate cinnamon from a line of birds whose other features you desire to retain. Half of the cocks have an (Xc), however, they are not visible since the “NOT cinnamon” gene is present on the other X chromosome. As a result, these cocks are “splits” or “carriers,” yet they are indistinguishable from their brothers who lack the cinnamon gene. So we have the advantage of knowing that any visible cinnamon chicks from this coupling MUST BE HENS.

Work out the outcome of coupling a Cinnamon Hen with a Homozygous Light Green Cock and a “Cinnamon Carrier” before continuing with this genetics primer.

Sex & Linkage (2)

At the conclusion of the last section, I asked you to calculate the outcome of mating a Cinnamon Hen with a Homozygous Light Green Cock, and then with a “Cinnamon Carrier.” The grid for the first coupling, Cinnamon Hen to Homozygous Light Green Cock, is as follows:

Parents ContributionXX
(Xc)X(Xc)X(Xc)
YXYXY

There will be no VISUAL cinnamons, but ALL of the cock chicks will be carriers. None of the hen chicks can be cinnamon since they must get the “Y” chromosome from their mother in order to become hens. Similarly, the cinnamon gene must be passed on from their mother to the cock chicks, since they “require” the “X” that carries it to go with the “X” from their father to make them cocks. The grid for the second coupling, Cinnamon Hen to Cinnamon carrier Cock, is as follows:

Parents Contribution(Xc)X
(Xc)(Xc)(Xc)X(Xc)
Y(Xc)YXY

In this situation, you may deduce that half of the chicks, regardless of gender, will be visual cinnamons, and that all of the cocks are visually cinnamon or can pass cinnamon on to their progeny. Let us also consider another combination….

Parents Contribution(Xc)(Xc)
X(Xc)X(Xc)X
Y(Xc)Y(Xc)Y

This may be a beneficial combo if you want to keep a cinnamon line of birds going. I hope you can see by yourself that a Visual Cinnamon Cock has been married to a regular hen. ALL of the hens produced are cinnamon, and all of the non-cinnamon chicks are “Carriers” (or “splits”). Keep in mind that American Cinnamon may be mixed with any of the other colors.

Two additional genes found in the Peach-faced Lovebird are likewise sex-linked. These are the Australian Cinnamon and the Ino. Let me first clarify how the word “INO” is used. When we initially introduce a newcomer to genetics, the terminology “Lutino,” “Cremino,” and “Ivorino” might be bewildering. It will be much easier for you to understand the breeding of all these colors if you consider the gene that is transmitted as “Ino,” which is combined with the three color series that we have met in previous sections, namely Green, Marine, and Lavender, to produce “Lutino,” “Cremino,” and “Ivorino,” respectively.

If a real “Blue” Peach-faced Lovebird is ever developed, a cross with “Ino” will result in the “Albino” form. As a result, we must never succumb to the temptation to refer to “Pastel Blue” as “Blue” (as has occurred in “Cage & Aviary Birds”). The usage of the phrase “Marine” decreases the possibility of such misconceptions occurring. For the same reasons, I propose “Lavender” rather than “White faced Blue.” It is worth noting that this gene inherits in the same manner as American Cinnamon, which we have previously discussed in depth IN THE PEACH FACED LOVEBIRD.

The “INO” gene acts more like a simple recessive in the “Eyering Species.” It is also related to the Peachfaced “Lavender” mutation in that its presence in a single dosage would result in the phenotypic when combined with the recessive “dilute” gene, causing what is known as “Visual Splits” in the UK. The Bird Graphics collection now contains JPG images of a Dilute Green Masked and a Dilute + Ino Blue Masked (editors note: A link to this library will be provided in the future. -el).
I hope that the ten parts of this file on “Basic Genetics” have provided you with enough practical material to comprehend the principles of color breeding in birds in general, and Lovebirds in particular. All that remains to be determined is which gene is dominant or recessive to which, which are incomplete dominants, and which are sex-related. For more information on this, and to further your understanding, you may read “Colour Expectations of the Peach-faced Lovebird Made Easy” by P.C. Davies & P.J. Davies. It has no ISBN number and is not dated, however it is still available through the UK Parrot Society or the UK Lovebird (1990) Society, despite its age.

The Orange Faced Peachface (to all intents and purposes a simple recessive, albeit “splits” may be recognized visually by those knowledgeable with the mutation) is one of the mutations that have happened since its publication. As a result, this should be classified as an Incomplete dominant, yet a single “dose” has very little influence on the phenotypic. The orange-faced mutation looks great on green series birds like Lutinos and Fallows, but it looks terrible on other color series, becoming a muddy yellow on Marines.

Beautiful Violet is an Incomplete dominant mutation. Although both Danish and Dutch versions are said to exist, it is debatable if they are really distinct mutations. When coupled with Lavender genes, very beautiful phenotypes are created.

There are two fallow mutations recognized in Europe as the East German and West German Fallow; both are sex-associated but clearly distinct mutations.


Yellow-faced (not to be confused with the appearance of the “Orange faced” gene on a Dutch Blue) and Rose faced Peachfaced are two further, more recent mutations. Both are reported from Denmark, and nothing is known about their method of inheritance.

Permit me to conclude with a request. When we first start with Lovebirds, we have an understandable desire to play with colors like a kid with a paint box, mixing them all together and hoping for the best. I would advise breeders to take a more structured approach; pick what color they want to create, utilize your understanding of genetics to figure out how to get it on paper, and then execute it, and please maintain records. Finally, keep in mind that the wild form of the bird is still highly attractive and should be kept in a separate “stud” by at least a considerable fraction of breeders. As a word of warning, it is currently very rare to get excellent green Masked Lovebirds in the UK, and virtually all are split for blue. It’s a sad state of things.

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