The very attractive Pied budgerigar has long been a favorite with pet owners and show breeders alike. Pied parakeets have irregular patches of yellow, for Green birds, or white, for Blue birds. No two birds are marked exactly alike. The distinct splashes of bright color give us feathered kaleidoscopes.
Pieds are most often seen in three different varieties: the Australian Pied, the Danish Pied, and the Continental Clearflight.
In the Australian Pied the light patches occur most often about the lower half of the parakeet. Also, all Australian Pieds have a light patch at the nape of the neck. A sub variety of this color mutation is the Banded Pied. Through selective breeding, parakeet fanciers have developed birds that show the mottling in the form of a light ring or `belt’ about the middle. These particularly attractive Banded Pieds are alway in great demand.
Exhibition enthusiasts have crossed the Australian Pieds with the more common colors of the English show budgerigar. These pioneering fanciers have produced big Australian Pieds with broad heads that win prizes at the shows. A particular plus for this variety is that all of the colors are as bright as those of the more regularly marked parakeets.
With the Danish Pied the splashing is concentrated about the head, shoulders, and chest. Though also very attractive, the Danish Pied is not often raised as a show bird. Breeders have not been very succesful in producing competition quality Danish Pieds. These birds tend to be small, on the style of the pet parakeets. This does not stop Danish Pieds from being very good pets.
The Danish Pied mutation has some secondary effects apart from the mottled patches. The depth and brightness of all the colors is somewhat subdued and reduced. To compensate for this breeders often raise the Danish Pieds in the Violet (purple), Cobalt (dark blue), and Olive (very dark green) color varieties. Since Violets, Cobalts, and Olives possess a deeper color to start with, the slight fading effect of the Danish Pied mutation is offset.
There are two other unusual facts about the Danish Pieds. When young, all parakeets have dark eyes. After the bird matures, much of the color in the eye is lost. As an adult, only the pupil will be dark, the iris ring white. This does not happen in the Danish Pieds. Here the eye remains dark through out the life of the bird.
Also, the gender of the Danish Pieds can not be distinguished by the color of the cere. The cere is the fleshy part of the bird around the nostrils, above the beak. With most colors of parakeets, the cere of the male is bright blue, the hen’s may be any other color. For the Danish Pieds, both male and female have pink or tan ceres. An educated guess can be made. In adult parakeets, the cere of the male is smooth while the hen’s tends to become rough.
The Continental Clearflights are not as dramatically marked as the other pied mutations. Here, ideally, the flight feathers and the tail feathers should be clear. Very often some of these feathers will be normally colored. Continental Clearflights also have a patch of light feathers at the nape of the neck. Sometimes a Continental Clearflight will have all of the flight and tail feathers regularly marked. In this case they can only be told from the normal birds by means of the light patch by the base of the skull.
The Continental Clearflight also is not often seen at the shows.
A curious phenomenon occurs when the Continental Clearflight mutation is combined with the Danish Pied. This blend gives rise to Black Eyed Clears. Black Eyed Clears are, as the name suggests, pure white or yellow parakeets with black eyes. Like all Danish Pieds, the entire eye remains black. This dark eye prevents any confusion with Albinos or Lutinos. Albinos are pure white birds with red eyes. Lutinos are pure yellow keets with red eyes. Black eyed clears are in great demand as pets.
GENETICS OF THE PIEDS
The Australian Pied is a dominant mutation. This means simply that a bird must show it; they can’t be `carrying’ this mutation. Australian Pieds, like all dominant mutations, come in two forms:single factor and double factor. If you mate a single factor Australian Pied with any other parakeet, half of the nest will be Australian Pieds. When using a double factor Australian Pied, all the young will be Australian Pieds. Whether an Australian Pieds is a double or single factor can sometimes be determined by visual inspection. The double factor birds are often very light in color. Only by actually breeding the bird in question, is a true identification possible. The Continental Clearflights are also a dominant mutation. The inheritance of this mutation is of the same pattern as the Australian Pied.
Danish Pieds are a recessive mutation. With recessive genes, only the double factors will show the mutation. Birds with one factor are called `carriers’ or `splits.’ Carriers (splits) don’t look like recessive pieds, but when mated together will produce Danish Pieds.
Since the Black Eyed Clear is an blend of a dominant mutation, the Continental Clearflight, and a recessive, the Danish Pied, it takes two generations to produce. Mate, a Continental Clearflight with a Danish Pieds. Half of the babies will be Continetal Clearflights and half will appear like reguar birds. None will be Danish Pieds, unless, the Continental Clearflight parent was split for Danish Pied. In any event, pair up the babies that are Continental Clearflights. On the average, three young out of every sixteen produced from these pairings will be Black Eyed Clears.
All of the Pieds are most impressive when brightly colored. When combined with the more delicately colored keet colors, the Pastels and Greywings, for instance, much of the appeal is lost.