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Understanding Genetics

Whether you are just interested in what colour your budgie is or why it is the way it is or whether you are considering breeding yourself- this page hopefully will explain a lot to do with budgie genetics and why there are so many variations and how to recreate them!

Image by Bianca Ackermann

The History of Colour

To understand how to breed certain colours and mutations of budgies, you first have to understand how they all came about.
There is only two main colours believe it or not! These are green budgies (which is the wild type of budgies) and blue budgies. Originally there was only green budgies which are created by a mix of blue and yellow genes to create the green feathers (which as I am sure you are aware, blue and yellow makes green!). Then one day a mutation (a gene change or ‘error’) occurred and a blue budgie was produced. They then bred this bird back to its parents to create more of this mutation and so the blue budgies appeared.
From there more mutations occurred, each time one happened that was desirable, the breeder would breed back to its parents creating more of the same. This has led to a wide variety of genetic mutations over the years.

Image by Unmesh

The Colour Basics

Every budgie boils down to one of two things- either a blue budgie or a green budgie! There are of course different variations of each of these which will carry additional genes. These are known as dark factors and basically have the impact of darkening a bird’s natural colour.
For example: If a budgie is a light green (the ‘normal’ green budgie) and has 1 dark factor then it becomes a Dark Green budgie. If it has 2 dark factors, then it will be even darker and become a Olive Green colour. If a budgie is a sky blue (the ‘normal’ blue budgie) and has 1 dark factor then it becomes a Cobalt budgie. If it has 2 dark factors, then it will be even darker and become a Mauve colour.
Once you get your head round this, there are then two more colour changing factors- the violet and the grey factor. These aren’t colours in themselves, but are actually known as colour ADDING factors (think of it as a colour paint being mixed in with another to change it).
The violet factor will change a blue budgie’s colour but not impact the green budgie visually. It’s biggest impact is on a cobalt budgie, which allows the colour to become a lovely rich violet colour. If you wanted a much paler violet then adding it to a sky blue budgie would work.
The grey factor will change both blue and green budgie’s colours. In greens it will create what is known as a grey green which to the eye is a khaki colour (similar to an olive budgie). In a blue budgie the bird will become visually grey.
The other colours are yellow or white budgies. These two still fall into either the blue or green budgie lines- yellow being the basis of a green budgie and the white being the babsis iof a blue budgie. Both these colours are produced due to a LACK of colour instead of an addition. They both lack melanin in their system which produces black lines and finish off the bird’s actual colour. This is why lutinos (yellow budgies) and albinos (white budgies) have red eyes instead of black- due to the lack of melanin in their system.


Dominant and Recessive Genes

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Understanding Genetics: Projects
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