Sex-Linked Mutations In The Peachfaced Lovebird

Cinnamon cockatiel
Cinnamon cockatiel

The Peachfaced Lovebird has three sex-linked mutations (the Opaline mutation did not yet exist at the time this article was written): Lutino, American Cinnamon, and Australian Cinnamon. Though the Lutino mutation is extremely frequent and probably widely known to most lovebird lovers, the cinnamons are less common and hence less well recognized.

The Lutino mutation works by eliminating all of the bird’s Melanin, which is a dark pigment. The yellow and red hues we perceive are created by several pigments known as carotenoids, which are unaffected by the Lutino gene. In fact, the vivid yellow and red hues represent the pigments that were “left behind” after the Lutino gene destroyed all of the Melanin from the bird.

The Australian Cinnamon is a pale yellow-green that is somewhat darker than a lutino but lighter than an American Cinnamon. Australian Cinnamons, which were formerly expensive and difficult to buy, are now widely available. Cinnamon newborns of both types are easy to spot in the nest because their eyes are whiter than the black eyes of typical chicks, but not as red as the lutino’s. The chicks’ eyes darken as they age, and although they are presumably still “redder” than a regular eye, they seem black, much like a typical peachie. Young Cinnamons have a dark marking on their beak, but it is considerably lighter in shade than the profound black mark on a Normal Green Peachfaced baby’s beak. There is no black mark on the beak of a Lutino infant. The Australian cinnamon on the left has constructed a lavish nest for her family.

An American Cinnamon is the bird on the right (this is a blue Am. cinnamon; it is also whitefaced).

When two sex-linked mutations are combined, several highly intriguing outcomes result. Because each of these mutations occurs on the sex-determining chromosomal pair, a female may only carry one of these mutations at a time; nonetheless, a rare genetic “crossover” will occur when an American Cinnamon and Lutino father bird contains one gene each. Because of this crossing, the American Cinnamon Gene and the Lutino Gene end up on the same chromosome. The new combination mutation is known as a “Lacewing.” They are really uncommon (photo not available).

When a male bird possesses one Lutino gene and one Australian Cinnamon gene, he will look like an Australian Cinnamon bird, but significantly lighter in color. This bird is also known as a “Splitcinnamonino.” The Australian cinnamon hen (top) and the orange-faced lutino male (right) might, for example, produce “splitcinnamonino” males. Because both mutations in this coupling on the right are sex-linked, we will know the sex of each infant by its color (splitcinnamoninos will be males, lutinos will be females).
We’ve been talking about these hues in terms of “green series” birds. These sex-linked mutations manifest differently in “blue series” birds. The bird seen below is a creamino, an ino mutation of a blue peachfaced lovebird.

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