Red Suffusion

Red Suffusion, often known as “red pied,” is not a real color mutation, but it is frequently misidentified as one, so I’ve put it here. Indeed, the reasons of red suffusion are not well known. Though several breeders have claimed that this is a genetic mutation, no one has been able to reliably replicate it through generations, casting serious question on whether it is a genetically heritable feature.

Red suffusion is often seen as a sequence of red “spots.” The red patches are thought to be the result of a nutritional issue or liver dysfunction that occurred when the feathers were forming, causing them to become differentially coloured. The issue may have been rectified before the varied hue feathers were ever observed.

Red suffusion is common in extremely elderly birds and in young birds before their first molt. The bird in the accompanying photo displayed the red suffusion until its first molt at roughly five months of age. It’s been more than a year since that molt, and the red hue hasn’t reappeared, nor has it shown in any of the bird’s near relatives.

I am not aware of red suffusion being clinically linked to any significant ailment, however it is likely that no much study has been conducted on it due to its rarity. I’m probably asked about it twice or three times a year, which gives you a sense of how often it comes up. If a bird has red suffusion, you should monitor his activity level and inspect his droppings to ensure they are normal. It may be useful to get a blood workup performed by a skilled avian vet, particularly if the bird is showing other indications of sickness. However, it is not unusual for red suffusion to emerge in a bird that seems to be otherwise healthy. It’s possible that whatever condition produced the color cured itself before the color appeared, or there’s another reason for the color.

As there is clearly still much to learn about the causes of Red Suffusion. If anybody reading this page has come across this coloring, I’d love to know about your experience with it.

In addition, there is every reason to believe that a genuinely red peachfaced mutant will appear at some time. All of the pigments are there, so if the proper genetic “quirk” arises at some moment, we might end up with “rosy lovebirds” much as “rosy Bourkes.” (I don’t know anything about rosy Bourkes, but I believe that’s what’s going on there.) Anyway, if you thought there were a blue million color variants today, just wait; there will very probably be more in the future.

The bird on the left is suffused with orange. It’s worth noting that both of the birds in these photographs are lutinos.

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