Budgie Colors and Mutations

Trying to figure out what variety your budgie is? Or maybe you would like to see what different kinds of budgies there are out there. Interested in learning about budgie genetics? This is the section you need to read! To learn all about all the different budgie mutations and how they work, start at the top and read on. If you are looking for a particular mutation, click on it in the list below.

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Click Below to Jump Down to a Mutation...

Coloration Mutations

Striping Pattern Mutations

Pied Mutations

Rare Mutations


Wild Budgie Parakeet

The wild budgerigar - The budgie's original variety is shown in the picture to the right. The original budgie variety is yellow-based with blue feather structure in the body feathers, resulting in the classic green coloration of the main body (yellow+blue=green). Observe the striping pattern on the head and wings, which are both the normal type.

All varieties other than the original wild-type have occurred in budgies bred in captivity. Many are commonly available in pet stores. Some are more common among budgies bred for show. Others are extremely rare.


Coloration Mutations
Base Color

All budgies fall into one of two basic varieties. Either they have a yellow pigment base or they lack a yellow pigment base and are therefore white-based. In general, the base color is visible in the mask feathers and between the black stripes of the head and wings. (The exception is the yellow-face variety.) Normally, the body feathers are structured to reflect blue. In yellow-based budgies the blue in the body feathers combines with the yellow base pigment, which results in a bright green, the most common variety. In white-based budgies there is no yellow base pigment, so the blue structure of the body feathers results in bright blue coloration.

Basic Genetics:
Yellow-base - dominant
White-base - recessive
Details on base color genetics...

Click Here to see more photos comparing the above mutations


Dark Factor

All budgies have a level of "dark factor" ranging from no dark factor, one dark factor, or two dark factors. Wild budgies have no dark factor. Dark factor basically darkens the blue in the body feathers. (In budgies totally lacking normally colored feathers, such as albinos and lutinos, the budgie's dark factor will be present but unknown). A green (yellow-based) budgie with no dark factor will be the original very bright green; this variety is called "green" or "light green." One dark factor will result in a darker green; this variety is called "dark green." Two dark factors will result in a deep olive drab green color; this variety is called "olive." A blue (white-based) budgie with no dark factor will be the original bright sky blue; this variety is called "sky blue." One dark factor will result in a slightly darker blue; this variety is called "cobalt." Two dark factors will result in a deep grey blueish color (more grey than blue); this variety is called "mauve." Within each level of dark factor is room for some variation in darkness. One sky blue may look a little darker than another sky blue and one olive budgie may look a little lighter than another olive budgie. But usually there is no mistaking which dark factor category a budgie falls into, and the pictures below can be used as a guide.

Basic Genetics:
Dark factor - semi-dominant
Normal - recessive
Details on dark factor genetics...


Grey Factor

Gray factor is a color-adding factor. If a budgie has a grey factor, the color grey is added to the budgie's original body color. The grey factor is very strong and overrides the underlying color. Normal yellow-based budgies with a grey factor will be a grey-green color. Normal white-based budgies with a grey factor will be a grey color.

Basic Genetics:
Grey factor - dominant
Normal - recessive
Details on grey factor genetics...


Violet Factor

Violet factor is a color-adding factor. However, it is not as strong as the grey factor. If a budgie has a violet factor, you may or may not know it. True violet only shows up on cobalt budgies (white-based budgies with one dark factor) or, if double factor, on sky blue budgies(white-based budgies with no dark factor). It is very hard to tell if yellow-based budgies carry a violet factor. The violet usually darkens the green of the body feathers similarly to a dark factor. Sometimes, if you look closely, a violet tinge will be visible on the body feathers near the feet and vent of a green budgie with violet factor. Sky blue budgies with one violet factor will have a violet tinge, especially in the body feathers near the feet, and sometimes look darker than a normal sky blue. It is very difficult to detect violet factor in mauve budgies.

Basic Genetics:
Violet factor - semi-dominant
Normal - recessive
Details on violet factor genetics...


Dilution

In addition to a dark factor, budgies may also have a degree of dilution. There are four types of dilution: greywing, full-body-color greywing, clearwing, and dilute. Greywing budgies have grey markings on head and wings instead of black, and the body feather color is about 50% diluted (washed out). Full-body-color greywing budgies have the same grey markings of the greywing but the body color is brightened (not lightened or diluted). Clearwing budgies have very light or no markings on head and wings and the body color is brightened (not lightened or diluted). Dilute budgies are washed out all over. The head and wing markings are very light, and the body color is about 80% diluted (washed out). Without any dilution, the budgie looks like the normal budgies seen above.

Basic Genetics:
Normal - dominant
Greywing - recessive, co-dominant with clearwing
Clearwing - recessive, co-dominant with greywing
Dilute - recessive
Details on dilution genetics...


Yellowface

Yellowface budgies are in between yellow-based budgies and white-based budgies. There are different degrees of the level of yellow pigment, less than the yellow-based variety. These different levels of yellow pigment are caused by several different genes. Visually, there are two types of yellow face: Type I and Type II. In type I yellowface budgies, the mask feathers are all yellow. The yellow may also show up in the peripheral tail feathers. The yellow is confined to these areas only and the budgie is normally colored in the body feathers. Type II yellowface budgies have yellow in the mask feathers and tail, just like the type I. However, after the first molt at 3 months of age, the yellow diffuses into the body color and creates a new color, depending on the original color. In the case of the sky blue variety, as seen below, the type II yellowface creates a seafoam green color, but in the type I yellowface the body color remains sky blue.

Basic Genetics:
Complicated!


For information on yellowface genetics, see Gene Function in Yellowface Budgerigars by Peter Bergman


Lutino/albino

Lutino/albino effectively erases all color and markings of a budgie, leaving only the base color (yellow or white). Lutino and albino are the same variety; they are just different names for the same variety in yellow-based budgies and white-based budgies. Lutinos are yellow based budgies,and are all yellow with red/pink eyes. Albinos are white-based budgies and are all white with red/pink eyes. There are two mutations which show up on the lutino/albino. Cinnamon causes the head and wing markings to show up in a light brown color, creating the lacewing variety. Yellowface causes the albino, normally all white, to show different degrees of pale yellow. These budgies are sometimes called creamino. If it is a yellowface type I the yellow will be restricted to the mask area. If it is a yellowface type II, all the albino's feathers will be a creamy off-yellow color. The cere of the male lutino/albino budgie does not change normally. Adult male lutinos/albinos have purple ceres. Adult female lutinos/albinos have the normal white/tan/brown ceres.

Basic Genetics:
Sex-linked (on the Z chromosome)
Details on lutino/albino genetics...


Striping Pattern Mutations
Opaline

Opaline is a striping pattern mutation. It reverses the striping pattern on the head feathers so that there are thicker white areas and thinner black stripes. Another feature which adds to the beauty of this mutation is that the body feather color runs through the stripes on the back of the neck and down through the wing feathers. Opaline budgies' tails are characteristically patterned with light and colored areas running down the tail feather.

Basic Genetics:
Sex-linked (on the Z chromosome)
Details on opaline genetics...

Normally Striped Budgie Parakeet

Spangle

Spangle causes the markings on the wings and tail to be reversed. On the wings, instead of the normal black feathers with white edges creating the normal striping pattern, the feathers are mostly clear (yellow or white) with a thin black stripe at the edge. Sometimes the spangle mutation causes a little bit of the body color to show up between the stripes on the back of the head. Unlike the opaline, spangle does not cause the body colors to spread throughout the feathers of the neck and wings. However a budgie can be both spangle and opaline, causing a unique pattern of color dissipating through the wings.

Genetically double-factor spangles are all yellow or all white (depending on base color). You can tell a budgie is double-factor spangle because its irises lighten normally with age. Comparatively, lutinos/albinos have red eyes and dark-eyed clears have dark plum eyes throughout their lives.

Basic Genetics:
Spangle - dominant
Normal - recessive
Details on spangle genetics...

Normally Striped Budgie Parakeet

Cinnamon

Cinnamon causes the normally black markings of the head and wings to turn brown. The cinnamon mutation does not affect the color of the body feathers, but sometimes can give them a cinnamony tinge.

Basic Genetics:
Sex-linked (on the Z chromosome)
Details on cinnamon genetics...


Pied Mutations
Dominant Pied

Dominant pied budgies usually have a distinct pattern. There is always a band of clear body feathers across the lower-mid belly. This band can be very small to very large, encompassing almost the entire belly area. This band can also sometimes be irregular, not forming a complete band across the belly. There is also a band of clear feathers across the bottom of the wings. This band can be restricted to the very lower wing feathers or cover almost the entire wing area. Dominant pieds also always have a patch of clear feathers on the back of the head, usually about the size of a dime.

Genetically double-factor dominant pieds are different from the usual described above. Double-factor dominant pieds have very little markings; most of their feathers are clear. You can see examples of this below.

The irises of a dominant pied budgie turn light with maturity. This is a key factor in telling the difference between a dominant pied and a recessive pied, since recessive pieds' eyes stay a dark plum color throughout their life.

Basic Genetics:
Dominant Pied - dominant
Normal - recessive
Details on dominant pied genetics...


Recessive Pied

Recessive pied budgies have, in general, mostly clear feathers on all areas except the rump, which remains the original body color. In general there is a patch of normally colored body feathers near the bottom of the belly, with the rest of the body feathers being clear. Where there are marked feathers on the wings, these feathers are half clear near the top. The wings can have anywhere from a lot to very little marked feathers. The feathers on the head are mostly clear except sometimes for patches near the eyes and top of the head.
The recessive pied budgie's eyes are dark plum colored and never lighten with age; they always stay dark. This is how you can be sure a pied is recessive pied, since the dominant pied's eyes lighten normally with maturity. The cere of the male recessive pied also does not change normally. Adult male recessive pieds have purple ceres. Adult female recessive pieds have the normal white/tan/brown ceres.

Basic Genetics:
Normal - dominant
Recessive Pied - recessive
Details on recessive pied genetics...


Clearflight Pied

A budgie that is clearflight pied will have all clear flight feathers. Sometimes also the major coverts (row of feathers above the flight feathers) and/or the tail feathers will also be clear. Usually a clearflight pied will have some small patches of clear body feathers up around the neck. Clearflight pieds also have a patch of clear feathers on the back of the head.

Basic Genetics:
Clearflight Pied - dominant
Normal - recessive
Details on clearflight genetics...


Dark-Eyed Clear

The dark-eyed clear is actually a combination of recessive pied and clearflight pied. When these two mutations are both present, the budgie is has no markings or color. It is either pure yellow (if it is a yellow-based budgie) or pure white (if it is a white-based budgie). The dark-eyed clear's dark eyes never lighten with age, hence the name.

You can tell a budgie is a dark-eyed clear because its eyes stay a dark plum color throughout its life. Comparatively, lutinos/albinos have red eyes and double-factor spangles have irises that lighten with maturity.

Also, the cere of the male dark-eyed clear does not change normally. Adult male dark-eyed clears have purple ceres. Adult female dark-eyed clears have the normal white/tan/brown ceres.

Basic Genetics:
Combination of recessive pied and clearflight pied
Details on dark-eyed clear genetics...


Rare Mutations
Crested

Crested is a unique mutation. In this variety, the feathers on the very top of the budgie's head point askew from normal, forming a crest. There are generally three types of crests. In the full-circular crest, the head feathers radiate in a full circle from a central point on the head, forming what may look like a Beatles haircut. In the half-circular crest, the feathers radiate from a central point only halfway or part way around the head. In the tufted crest, the feathers point up or backwards from the others near the front of the head, forming a tuft. There are also some variations of crested budgies where feathers on the back/wings grow askew and stick up.

Basic Genetics:
Complicated!


For information on crested genetics, see The Crested Budgerigar by Ghalib Al-Nasser


Fallow

There are several types of fallow varieties, but in general, the fallow's head, wing, and tail markings are brownish. The body color is gradually diluted and is most visible on the rump. The eyes are red (some varieties do not have a pink iris, others do) and the cere of the male fallow does not change normally. Adult male fallows have purple ceres. Adult female fallows have the normal white/tan/brown ceres. This is a very beautiful specialist variety and is only seen in exhibition budgies.

Basic Genetics:
Normal - dominant
Fallow - recessive


For more information on Fallow budgerigars and their genetics, visit Bonsai Fallows


Saddleback

In the saddleback variety, the budgie's stripes are dark grey on the head and into the "V" shaped area of the shoulders and top of the wings. The markings gradually return to the normal black at the bottom of the wings. The head markings are sparse. This variety looks similar to an opaline, however, unlike the opaline, the body color does not appear on the head or wings of the saddleback. The rest of the budgie's color and markings remain normal. This variety first appeared in 1975 in Australia and is still very rare.

Basic Genetics:
Normal - dominant
Saddleback - recessive


For more info on saddleback budgerigars and their genetics, see Saddlebacks - A New Mutation in the UK by Ghalib Al-Nasser


Texas Clearbody

In the Texas clearbody variety, the color of the budgie's body feathers is diffused or absent, and the wing markings are dark at the top and fade to a light grey toward the tips of the wings. The standard for the Texas clearbody budgie is to have no color in the body feathers, leaving only yellow or white (depending, of course, if the budgie is yellow-based or white-based). The Texas clearbody can however, have some color in the body feathers of up to a 50% dilution. In this case the body feather color is stronger toward the vent and rump feathers.

Basic Genetics:
Normal - sex-linked (Z chromosome), dominant to Clearbody - sex-linked, dominant to
Ino - sex-linked recessive


For more info on Texas clearbody genetics, see Clearbodies by Jim Hutton


Slate

Slate is a color-adding factor similar to grey and violet. Slate produces a very dark bluish grey in white-based budgies. The darkness of the slate varies slightly according to the dark factor of the bird. Slate, like violet, can be present in a green (yellow-based) budgie, but only produces a darkening effect. True slate only appears on blue (white-based) budgies. This variety is extremely rare.

Basic Genetics:
Sex-linked (on the Z chromosome)


For more info on slate budgerigars and their genetics, see Slates by Deamonn A Mullee


Anthracite

The anthracite budgie has a black (or very, very dark grey) body color. All other markings on the budgie are normal, except for the cheek patches, which are the same black as the body color. This variety is very new and was first established in Germany. This variety has been shown to be genetically semi-dominant. A single anthracite factor produces a darkening effect extremely similar to a single dark factor (producing cobalt). A budgie that is double-factor anthracite appears as the true anthracite with the black body color.

Basic Genetics:
Normal - recessive
Anthracite - semi-dominant


Blackface

Black face is a new mutation in which the black stripes (undulations) of the head extend all the way into the face and mask, as well as the body feathers. The blackface mutation also causes a darkening of the body color. This mutation is extremely rare and last known to only exist in the Netherlands.

Basic Genetics:
Normal - dominant
Blackface - recessive


For more info on blackface budgerigars and their genetics, see The Blackface: a New Mutation in the Budgerigar by H.W.J. v.d. Linden


Mottled

The mottled variety is extremely unique. A mottled budgie is hatched looking like a normal budgie. With each progressive molt, more and more of the budgie's feathers grow back clear. The budgie starts to look somewhat like a pied only with a more random, mottled pattern of clear feathers than the established varieties of pied. The amount of mottling an individual budgie has varies. Some have more normally marked and colored feathers than clear ones. Others eventually become almost all clear.

Basic Genetics:
Unknown/undetermined


For information on mottled, see The Mottle: Variety or Trait by Inte Onsman


Lacewing

Lacewing is a composite variety of lutino/albino and cinnamon. The budgie is mostly yellow (in yellow-based budgies) or mostly white (in white-based budgies). A suffusion of the body color is slightly visible in the body feathers. The markings of the head, wings, and tail show up as a light cinnamon color and the cheek patches are pale violet. The eyes are red/pink, and the cere of the male lacewing does not change normally. Adult male lacewings have purple ceres. Adult female lacewings have the normal white/tan/brown ceres. This variety is mostly only seen in exhibition budgies.

Basic Genetics:
See lutino/albino and cinnamon


Half-Sider

The half-sider is actually not a true variety. The trait is not genetically inherited. Rather, it is a congenital condition. Visually, this budgie is split vertically, with the appearance and color of two distinct varieties appearing in splotches or sections divided by the vertical center line. I believe that this is a condition called tetragametic chimerism in which fraternal twin zygotes fuse at a very early stage in the womb, forming one individual with the tissues and DNA of both twins.

Basic Genetics:
NONE - This is a congenital condition
Click here for more information on tetragametic chimerism...


Combinations

With all the different budgie mutations, the possible combinations are virtually limitless. Any individual budgie can have just about any combination of the mutations listed above. To see more photos of budgies with combinations of varieties, click here!

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