By Peggy Newbury 1999
"COCKATIELS ARE MORE FUN" Have Fun with Blondes, Basic
Blondes, Warm Blondes, Milk Chocolate Blondes, Iced Blondes,
Platinum Blondes, Silver Blondes, Iced Coffee Blondes, Your
Responsibilities (to any Blonde) When overwhelming interest in a
particular species of bird, or mutations within that species, wanes,
it is time to
GET BACK TO BASICS
Our Lutino Cockatiel mutation has always been one of the most
beautiful of aviary parrots. When it first appeared it was
considered a swan among the ordinary grey plumage of the Normal
Cockatiel. It was called 'Albino', emphasis on the 'bi' sound, since
it first appeared in the United States. It was never a pure white
bird and therefore this name was incorrect, as calmer heads have
always commented. The mutation (or freak of nature) acts to delete
ALL melanin, by definition the grey colouring or pigmentation, from
the surface areas of the bird. ALL areas are affected, the feathers,
feet, toenails, skin, beak, cere and eyes lose grey,
THE BASIC BLONDE COCKATIEL
The resulting attractive shades of cream, ivory, gold, yellow,
orange and any other fanciful description including primrose and
buttercup have always been lurking under the effective camouflage
tones of dove grey through to charcoal. The lipochromes (or
psittacines, coined by George Smith, U.K.) are not enhanced, but
revealed. These are the yellow tones.
From Florida, where this fortunate accident of breeding
occurred, Mrs. Moon spread her lovely moonbeams throughout the world
as albinos. Because knowledge of genetic inheritance was virtually
nil, the cock birds were not used appropriately. Inbreeding, or line
breeding, was commonly used to produce the light coloured birds and
genetic faults were firmly fixed. Some of these faults we are still
trying to eradicate.
Various conformation faults are encountered in any line bred
stock that has not been ruthlessly culled. The most obvious
fault still prevalent in the Lutino is a bald spot at the top of the
head behind and in the center of the crest and sometimes running
down the back of the head as large as a fingerprint. Although other
mutations occasionally have thin feathering or bald spots, this
fault seems to be primarily a Lutino fault.
All cockatoos have a bald area directly behind their crests.
Some are more visible than others. I believe that the type of crest
influences the extent of light feathering or baldness. Cockatiels
are the littlest cockatoo and a lesser area of feathering on their
heads is a natural part of the species. However, normal Cockatiels
USUALLY have full pin feathering on the head area ' directly behind
their crests, but not always. Lutino Cockatiels seldom have full pin
feathering in this area BUT it can be found!
AND-. NO, NO, NO your lovely Lutino will not grow feathers on
top of its head as it gets older! If pin feathers are not visible
on the heads of chicks before they fledge pin feathers will
never appear, Other feathers may grow long enough to fold over and
cover this thin or bald area.
I suggest NEVER using Lutino Cockatiels for breeding unless some
pin feathering is evident as a chick. I believe that eradication of
baldness in this mutation is a simple matter of selective breeding,
one of the most basic tenets in any type of breeding. The BEST stock
available paired with the BEST stock available results in some
offspring that are BETTER than the parent birds. Generation after
generation of bird paired in this way will result in perfectly head
However, at the same time all other tenets of desirable breeding
techniques must be considered. Freakatiels with drooping wings,
short fat legs or stubby tails will not improve our hobby. While we
strive for good sized birds - within the standard - extra large or
tiny birds with beautifully feathered heads will not be rewarded on
your show bench or succeed in a breeding plan.
Certainly the best way to produce ideal Lutinos is to mate Best
feathered heads with Best feathered heads, as a geneticist in Perth
advised us long ago. This is much easier said in theory than done in
our aviaries. First you find (or breed) your birds with a well
feathered head. This bird must also have most or all of the other
attributes for a good selective breeding program.
I have truthfully never bred a Lutino to a Lutino. I have always
believed that a Lutino cock to a normal hen and a split cock to a
Lutino hen produces better coloured and better feathered birds.
Furthermore, the most beautiful mutations I ever produced are from 2
splits, or a split cock with a normal hen. I have never bred an
inferior mutation from this type of mating. Since I have been
involved in developing several mutations I have never devoted the
space to fully develop the Lutino to my satisfaction.
When one tries to establish a mutation many birds must be kept -
just in case - and this involves much space devoted to birds that
might be fairly unproductive for a minimum of 5 years. And this is
only if all goes perfectly to plan and other like minded breeders
help out with some aviary space!
Certainly, with the Lutino firmly established, and major
improvement the goal, much less space need be devoted to selective
breeding and the culled birds can be sold to the pet trade.
At this moment, even with the personal challenges I have had
since 1997, I have 3 large flights devoted to the Spangle mutation,
plus 2 individual breeding aviaries. At least 50 birds carry this
variation. I have been working on this mutation since 1984. Each
year I learn something else about this unusual variety. I don't give
up easily. This sort of stubbornness is required to strive towards
perfection in any mutation. Development does not usually suit those
who see breeding Cockatiels as a way of making money. Breeders with
business attitudes sensibly profit from the long, boring pursuit of
perfection by people like me. Perfection is never achievable. If it
is achieved, perhaps our standards have not been high enough!
Lutino birds have been observed in our wild flocks and some have
made their way into Australian aviaries. I would love to know if
birds taken directly from the wild have any sort of baldness.
Certainly these birds would not have any genes from the original
The Lutino mutation is a simple sex linked mutation. All
directions for colour change are carried on one or both of the genes
which direct the gender of the bird. Once this concept is firm in
your mind you can dazzle new breeders with any computation of sex
linked mutations such as Cinnamon, Platinum. and Yellowface. Adding
the sex linked pattern mutation of pearl results in the double sex
linked mutation of Lutino-Pearl, understandably, but incorrectly
sometimes called Golden Pearl. Directions for the pattern and
directions for the melanin deletion are carried on each gene used
for sex determination by the cockbird. Perhaps this concept might be
better understood if we called it gender linked mutation. Entirely
too much sex and not enough gender to remember the issue at hand.
WARM BLONDES LUTINO PEARL
One side effect of combining Pearl and Lutino is that head
feathering is usually improved. I believe that all over feathering
is improved. Even the normal or Lutino birds from a family that has
Pearl genes seem to have better feathering than a normal or Lutino
Cockatiel. This can also be carried to extremes and loose feathering
can result. I hope that my visit here in 1999 might inspire you,
as members and breeders, and the club as a whole, towards a five
year plan to thoroughly improve the Basic Blonde, and all the
variations that prove that blondes can be more fun. One of the
variations that is truly brilliant in an aviary is the addition of
the Pied pattern.
This is an autosomal recessive mutation so both parents must visibly
carry the pied factor for the breeder to be positive that the
glorious yellow bird on the perch is a guaranteed LUTINO-PIED. Pied
seems to enhance yellow whenever it is used so the bird appears
quite a bright yellow. If the sire is split Pearl as well as visibly
Lutino and Pied half of the hen chicks will be OZ BLONDES HAVE MORE
LUTINO PEARL PIED.
"MILK CHOCOLATE BLONDES"
When I started with Cockatiels most literature available to
Australian breeders was from the UK. It took me 10years to realise
that the cinnamon mutation so readily available in Europe was not at
all like the Australian Cinnamon mutation that had been developed
here. All the available information then advised that there was no
reason to combine Lutino and cinnamon because the Lutino was
dominant to cinnamon. We did not know better AND the very best cock
bird that Jeanette Hickford could use to produce the first
generation of Australian Cinnamons also carried Lutino and Pearl.
All 3 sex linked factors were masked in a normal appearing male. To
her shock three sisters were produced, all different.
LUTINO-CINNAMON and LUTINO-CINNAMON-PEARL
The 3rd sister was Cinnamon-Pearl. All hens were also split Pied
because the BEST hen Jeanette had was a Pied. We were pleased to see
the beautiful birds but had no idea at that time of the real
significance of the cinnamon colour on the Lutino ground colour.
The Cinnamon colouration on a Lutino body has a warmer light brown
tone because all slight grey shades are deleted from the brown by
the Lutino effect.
This is a mutation times 4. 2 directions for colour change and 1
direction to alter the pattern are now carried on each gene for
gender determination by the cock bird. In addition, both parents
carry at least 1 factor for pied on one or some of their autosomes.
Now the LUTINO-CINNAMON-PIED and PEARL-PIED are relatively
common in Australian aviaries but are still uncommonly beautiful.
These simple combinations are still often misunderstood. These
multi mutations cannot be produced with the UK Cinnamon. I'm still
not sure the UK and the rest of Europe really believe that the
Australian Cinnamon is such an effective mutation. I despair each
time I read one of Caroline Holtby's articles which declare that
breeding the Lutino and Albino multi mutation is boring. Her
articles are very knowledgeable and informative but our editors
seldom note that this information is not applicable to the
Australian Cinnamon mutation.
But wait - There is more!
Genetic knowledge advises us that a 'split' bird should show no
visible indication of the split factor. Now I have been able to
confirm that a Lutino cock split cinnamon does display cinnamon
colouration on the lutino ground colour. This fact has led to a
great deal of confusion in identifying mutations within the lutino
and cinnamon multi-mutations. A Cinnamon-Lutino cockbird at his peak
of 3 years old and good health displays so much cinnamon that a
prospective buyer, or even the breeder, could easily doubt that the
mutation is represented correctly. This partial dominance of
Cinnamon over Lutino is similar to that of Platinum over Lutino.
LUTINO-SILVER and LUTINO-PASTEL SILVER appear identical to
the BASIC BLONDE.
Lutino combined with Platinum has certain dominant aberrations,
which Mike Anderson has effectively explained. A stunning
mutation occurred which deleted all of the underlying yellow tones
of the normal grey Cockatiel. This resulted in the elegant White
As beautiful as this mutation is, many breeders immediately saw
the possibilities of combining Whiteface and Lutino to produce a
pure white bird. This is merely a combination mutation but it is
indeed a truly snow white bird. I call this bird the Australian Ice
THE ICE BLONDE ALBINO
ICED COFFEE BLONDE
It has been enthusiastically welcomed as the Albino - pronounced
here as Albeeno. This is a multi mutation of a sex linked recessive
mutation Lutino, and an autosomai recessive mutation, Whiteface. It
was a surprise to see that the eye in our Albino (or Lutino-Whiteface)
was a deep red, not a clear red. Other features are as expected. No
melanin be seen because of the Lutino and no lipochromes are visible
because of the whiteface.
Combining the Whiteface-Lutino (commonly called Albino) with
Platinum, Silver, Pastel Silver or the UK Cinnamon with Pearl or
Pied or both patterns results in a bird that looks like this - a
pure white bird which is a multimutation that can be proved only by
breeding results, not by observation.
If you feel like I'm being repetitive or that I'm hitting you
over the head with something, YOU'RE CORRECT! No melanin based
colour can show on the Lutino or Whiteface-Lutino ground colour.
BUT ... Australian Cinnamon is visible on the Lutino or
Now, since the Australian Cinnamon is visible on Lutino
mutations it is also visible on the Lutino-Whiteface. The cinnamon
colour becomes a cool beige because the effect of whiteface removes
any hints of gold that are normally part of the cinnamon mutation.
The cinnamon colour on the basic ICE BLONDE Albino increases in
colour until the birds are about 3 years old. Our ever useful
feather patterns are extremely effective in this multi mutation.
ALBINO CINNAMON PEARL BASIC ICE BLONDE WITH TIPS ALBINO
CINNAMON PEARL PIED
This mutation combines 2 autosomal recessive mutations which
both parents must carry, whiteface and pied, and 3 sex linked
recessive mutations, lutino, cinnamon and pearl.
Copyright retained by the author.
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