Rare Budgie Mutations: Breeding Pieds Varieties for Popular Colors

When looking at the variants that are covered by the Budgerigar Society’s Colour Standards, it is difficult not to wonder why some types are popular while others are not. In point of fact, some are quite close to being extinct. This is due to a multitude of factors, including the following:

  • the arrival of a new mutation
  • lack of interest
  • not making headway
  • insufficient stock available
  • and most of all lack of encouragement from various official bodies

The loss in popularity of specific kinds is helped by all of these factors. The “Continental Clearflights” and the “Dark-Eyed Clears” are two examples of such kinds that were briefly recognized and successful in the 1950s and 1960s but subsequently faded into obscurity after their time in the spotlight. Other types, such as Fallows, Dutch Pieds, Slates, and the now-extinct Brownwings, are examples of variations that have reached their lowest point in history.

The revival of interest in some of the rarer varieties is due in large part to the efforts of the Rare Variety & Colour BS, and it is only natural that the Specialist & Rare Variety Open Show, which is the only competition of its kind to focus solely on rare varieties and specialist colors, has further contributed to this phenomenon.

There is a link that can be drawn between the two different types that I described previously. Even though they don’t look anything alike to each other, one of them was the one who was ultimately responsible for producing the other, and their lives appear to have taken very similar turns.

There have been birds bred on the Continent for a significant amount of time that have varied proportions of white or clear regions on their plumage. To give just one example, the Danish Recessive Pied was a mutation that first occurred in 1932. However, it wasn’t until the year 1940 when a line of these Clearflighted birds was successfully bred in the aviaries of a man named M. R. Raemaker from Belgium. In the beginning, these birds had just a few scattered clear places, but with the use of selective breeding, Mon. Raemaker was able to build the Clearflights as we know and recognize them today.

Soon after the war, several instances of this variety made their way to the United Kingdom, and breeders there determined that the variety has a dominating mode of inheritance in terms of its breeding process. However, due to the introduction of the Australian Dominant Pied variety in the United Kingdom in 1958 and the beauty of the initial Australian Pieds with the band across the chest, the Continental Clearflight variety has been relegated to the background in recent years. The variety is very attractive to look at when it has been bred to produce the correct marking.

The Clearflighted Pied is distinguished by having clear flights and a clear tail, in addition to a clear head patch that can range in size. This is the defining attribute of the breed. The regular version possesses all the other typical markings, including spots, cheek patches, beak, foot, and body markings, as well as coloration.

Because the component that regulates the development of the Clearflight has a variable expression, many of the birds that are produced now do not match the ideal that was defined in the Budgerigar Society Color Standards that were published in 1994. Exhibits made in today’s market almost seldom show the correct marking, despite the fact that the ideal depicted by the Budgerigar Society calls for seven visible clear flights and a clear tail with no spilling of the mask into the body color.

The majority of Clearflights, if not all of them, demonstrate the breaking of the color mask into the chest, which was at one point put into the older version of the BS Color Standards. Those who lived during the time of the Second World War are the best people to ask about the circumstances surrounding how fluid leaked from the mask into the body. Others, including me, will have to rely on what we learn about the past by reading historical literature.

It was clear that during that time there was another Pied variety established in Holland in the early fifty’s called the Dutch Pied. This variety was named after the country of Holland. This was a distinct mutation that manifested itself as a dominating trait in the animal’s breeding behavior; also, its color was composed of an equal amount of dark and transparent pigment. They had the same body color pattern as Danish Recessive Pieds, but their irises were white, and they had a white ring around the outside of their eyes. Their cere, beaks, and feet were identical to those of other types, however the Recessive Pied has a cere that is fleshy pink in color, a beak that is orange in color, and feet and legs that are fleshy pink in color.

The Clearflights were bred with Dutch Pieds and with Recessive Pieds, which ultimately led to this color leakage onto the breast region of the dog’s body.

As far as I am aware, there are no Dutch Pieds in our country, and there are very few examples of them on the Continent; nevertheless, when I traveled to Australia in 1994, I observed many examples of them.

Since the Clearflight gene, like the Dominant and Dutch Pieds genes, is dominant over the Normal gene, the gene can be expressed as either a single or double factor in both males and females. The production of this variety is governed by the following guidelines, which can be stated as follows:

1Clearflighted Pied (s.f.) x Normal50% Clearflighted Pied s.f.
50% Normal
2Clearflighted Pied (d.f.) x Normal100% Clearflighted Pied (s.f.)
3Clearflighted Pied (s.f.) x Clearflighted Pied (s.f.)25% Clearflighted Pied (d.f.)
50% Clearflighted Pied (s.f.)
25% Normal
4Clearflighted Pied (s.f.) x Clearflighted Pied (d.f.)50% Clearflighted Pied (s.f.)
50% Clearflighted Pied (d.f.)
5Clearflighted Pied (d.f.) x Clearflighted Pied (d.f.)100% Clearflighted Pied (d.f.)

It is essential to be aware of the fact that the actual percentages may differ from theoretical expectations in light of the fact that the number of Pieds generated per nest will vary according to the pairings that are used. Also, the Clearflighted Pied can be made in any color and combination.

A new variation of Budgerigar that looked like the Lutino and Albino but had a black eye and no iris ring appeared around the same time as the Danish, Clearflight, and Dutch Pieds were reaching their peak of popularity in the 1940s. This was around the time that Lutino and Albino first appeared. It appears that they first appeared in Belgium around the year 1948, and then a couple of years later, they also appeared in Denmark. These Yellows and Whites with black eyes were discovered by a breeder who kept them in his aviary. At the time, he was producing Danish Recessive Pieds with dominant Continental Clearflights on the colony system. The color description that was provided before led to the decision to give this new variety the name Dark-Eyed Clears (DEC for short).

The appearance of those DEC’s caused some confusion in the genetic sense as to why two different types of Pieds, one dominant and one recessive, produced a bird free from any color pigmentation similar to the Red-Lutinos eyes and Albinos. This confusion was caused by the fact that those DEC’s were dominant. Therefore, it is appropriate to refer to them as a synthetic color or a color created by human intervention, which is the consequence of the combination of two distinct types of pieds.

According to their name, Dark-Eyed Clears are budgerigars that are either yellow or white in color and do not have any markings or coloration of any kind. This unadulterated hue is distributed evenly across the entirety of the body and the wings. The eye is the only distinguishing feature between them and the Lutinos and Albinos. They have the same trait as Recessive Pieds in that they do not have a white iris ring, hence sometimes people will refer to them as “Black-Eyed Clears.” This trait gives them something in common with Recessive Pieds. The DEC is capable of hiding any color, similar to the Lutino and the Albino. For instance, what appears to be a Yellow DEC can actually be an Olive Green DEC or a Light Green DEC. When compared to Light Green, the shade of yellow that is found in the Olive will have a more profound and complex appearance as a result.

It took some time to figure out which gene was responsible for controlling their production, but by the 1950s, both the Continental Clearflights and the Clearflights themselves were extremely popular. It was discovered that when a Clearflight is paired with a Rec. Pied, half of the young will be Clearflights while the other half of the young will be normal, and all of the young will be split for Rec. Pied. It was also discovered that a certain proportion of the offspring will be DEC if one of those Clearflights that are split for Rec. Pied is mated to another Rec. Pied. These Clears may give the impression of being Pieds, but they are, in fact, the Recessive Pied variety of the Continental Clearflight, or, to give it its full name, the “Clearflighted Recessive Pied.”

1988 was the year that I first became interested in the Dark-Eyed Clears (DEC). Despite the fact that I am renowned for my understanding of and interest in what are considered to be “lesser types,” the ones that I had seen in the past were of such poor quality that I, like other people, ridiculed the variety and the owners of the animals.

My good friends Geoff and Cherril Bunker, who were at the time in the process of moving house to the West Country, gave me two White DEC cocks. At the time, they were in the middle of the move. The two cocks were related to one another and were of adequate quality. When displayed in the Recessive Pied class on two separate occasions, one of those cocks was incorrectly classified, despite the fact that it had been entered in the appropriate class. I took them on for two reasons: first, since I was looking for a fresh challenge at the time, and second because I wanted to do what I could to help promote variety.

Due to the paucity of available written data about them, it took me some time to comprehend the genetics governing their mating behavior. These DECs are in reality birds that have in their genetic makeup one dominant gene (the gene for the Clearflight) and two recessive genes. The dominant gene is responsible for the Clearflight trait (genes for the Rec. Pieds). One type of gene will be more prevalent than others in the offspring of these organisms, and the variety they generate will vary depending on which partner they are mated with.

For instance, if a DEC is mated with a Rec. Pied, the recessive genes will be expressed, and the pairing will have the same effect as mating two birds with the same recessive gene pattern or two Rec. Pieds with each other. Theoretically, this form of pairing will result in an equal amount of DECs and Rec. Pieds are being produced. The confusion comes when we pair a DEC with a normal to produce Clearflights, which then leads to more confusion. Despite the fact that we began with a DEC, this coupling will not result in the production of any more. In point of fact, the pairing will result in the production of Clearflights in addition to normals, all of which will split for Rec. Pied.

The dominant Clearflight gene will be expressed in this form of mating, and the resulting offspring will be identical to those produced by crossing a Clearflight Pied with a normal. Because the DEC carries two recessive genes in a form that is not visible, these genes will continue to be present in the offspring in a form that is not visible as well; hence, all of the progeny will be split for the recessive trait known as Rec. Pied. However, the dominant gene on both sides will be activated when a DEC is paired with a Clearflight split Rec. Pied, and the resulting pairing will be very similar to that of Clearflight Pied x Clearflight Pied. This coupling will result in the production of DEC, Clearflight, and normal offspring, the latter two of which will be split for Rec. Pied due to the recessive nature of the DEC gene pool. In addition, there will be recessive pieds present in the offspring because the recessive gene is present in both parents.

It is fascinating to observe how the DEC’s dominant and recessive genes behave differently depending on whose mate they are associated with. Due to the existence of a dominant gene in the DEC makeup, this gene can be present in either a single or double dose, however, the effects of either are aesthetically indistinguishable from one another. The Pied genes remove the pigment melanin from the Pied patches, which is how they exert their effect. It would appear that neither the recessive Pied genes nor the dominant Pied genes are capable of removing all of the pigment on their own; nevertheless, the combination of two recessive and one dominant gene is sufficient to achieve this result.

If you are not already perplexed by genetics, then the following table of breeding expectations should be of some use to you in gaining an idea of how the three different kinds interact with one another. The DEC can be produced using a wide variety of different pairings, all of which are outlined in the table that can be found below.

1Clearflighted (s.f.) x Recessive Pied50% Clearflighted/Rec. Pied50% Normal/Rec. Pied
2Clearflighted (s.f.)/Recessive Pied x Recessive Pied25% Recessive Pied
25% Normal/Rec. Pied
25% Clearflighted (s.f.)/Rec. Pied
25% Dark-Eyed Clears
3Clearflighted (d.f.) x Recessive Pied100% Clearflighted (s.f.)/Rec. Pied
4Dark-Eyed Clear x Recessive Pied50% Dark-Eyed Clear
50% Recessive Pied
5Dark-Eyed Clear (s.f.) x Dark-Eyed Clear (s.f.)50% Dark-Eyed Clear (s.f.)
25% Recessive Pied
25% Dark-Eyed Clear (d.f.)
6Dark-Eyed Clear (s.f.) x Dark-Eyed Clear (d.f.)50% Dark-Eyed Clear (s.f.)
50% Dark-Eyed Clear (d.f.)
7Dark-Eyed Clear (s.f.) x Clearflighted (d.f.)/Recessive Pied25% Dark-Eyed Clear (s.f.)
25% Dark-Eyed Clear (d.f.)
25% Clearflight (s.f.)/Rec. Pied
25% Clearflight (d.f.)/Rec. Pied
8Dark-Eyed Clear (s.f.) x Clearflight (s.f.)/Recessive Pied12 1/2% Dark-Eyed Clear (d.f.)
25% Dark-Eyed Clear (s.f.)
12 1/2% Recessive Pied
12 1/2% Clearflight(df)/Rec Pied
25% Clearflight (s.f.)/Rec Pied
12 1/2% Normal/Rec. Pied

There is no way to tell the difference between a single factor and a double factor Dark-Eyed Clear offspring from the matings described above.

The tight connection that exists between these two types, the Clearflighted Pied and the Dark-Eyed Clear, may be seen in this particular example. In spite of the fact that I was successful in breeding both varieties in the late eighties and early nineties, I found that it was challenging to breed them to perfection. As I was saying previously, the majority of Clearflights have that clear leakage into the chest, which is something that the BS Colour Standards consider to be undesirable. The utilization of both the Dutch and the Recessive Pieds led to the occurrence of this leakage. The use of selective breeding in conjunction with a substantial amount of perseverance is one strategy for reducing or eliminating this overflow. The vast majority of modern Clearflights are descended from Dark-Eyed Clears, and as a result, they are carriers of the recessive pied gene. It seems to me that the only way to rid the Clearflights of the Recessive Pied gene is to continuously breed them with pure Normals. Only then will we be able to eradicate the gene. At some point in the future, we will be able to manufacture Clearflights that are unadulterated and have not been split for Recessive Pieds. After that, there is a possibility that we will be able to manufacture Clearflights without the color bleeding into the breast. I, for one, will be very keen to hear from breeders who have already carried out or who are attempting to carry out this type of pairing, and I will do so with great anticipation.

The issue comes when fanciers put certain exhibits on the show bench in specialist shows that give separate classes for Clearflights. These events are designed specifically for Clearflights. These exhibits will most likely fit the exact description of Clearflights (seven clean flights, clear tail, head patch, and most importantly, no color spillage), but when questioned, the owners will likely admit that the bird sprang from a coupling of Dominant Pieds. There is no connection between these two Pied kinds other than the fact that they both exhibit dominant genetic breeding behavior; nonetheless, those exhibits appear to be poorly marked Dominant Pieds that do not have anybody variegation. Due to the fact that they match the criteria for the Clearflight, the judge is powerless to give them a penalty or place them in the wrong category.

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