The Splendids Are My Favourites

The Peachfaced Lovebird has three separate sex-linked mutations (at the time of writing, the Opaline mutation did not yet exist): Lutino, American Cinnamon, and Australian Cinnamon. Though the Lutino mutation is extremely widespread and is certainly recognized to most lovebird aficionados, the cinnamons are less frequent and, as a result, less well known.

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

The Australian Cinnamon is a very pale yellow-green, somewhat deeper than a lutino but lighter than an American Cinnamon. Australian Cinnamons, which were formerly expensive and difficult to buy, are becoming more widely available. Cinnamon infants of either variety 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 eyes darken as the chicks age, and although they are presumably still “redder” than a regular eye, they seem black, exactly 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 the beak of a Normal Green Peachfaced youngster. A Lutino infant has no black spot on its beak. The Australian cinnamon on the left has constructed a magnificent nest for her offspring.

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

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

When a male bird possesses one Lutino gene and one Australian Cinnamon gene, he will resemble an Australian Cinnamon bird, however he will be significantly darker in color. This bird is also known as a “splitcinnamonino.” For example, the Australian cinnamon hen (top) and the orange-faced lutino male (right) would produce “splitcinnamonino” males. Because both mutations in this pairing to the right are sex-linked, we will be able to tell the gender of each infant by its color (splitcinnamoninos will be males, lutinos will be females).
We’ve been examining these hues in terms of “green series” birds. The emergence of these sex-linked mutations differs in “blue series” birds. The bird seen below is a creamino, which is the ino mutation of a blue peachfaced lovebird.

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