Budgie Parakeet Colors, Varieties, Mutations and Genetics

Budgie parakeets come in so many colors and mutations they remind me of jellybeans! These birds are part of our family flock.

Color Mutations

Budgerigars

Wild-type Budgerigars of the classic green variety

In the wild, Budgie Parakeets are green with yellow, with black stripes and markings, and dark blue-green-black flight and tail feathers. Captive breeding programs, however, have produced Budgies in almost every color of the rainbow, except red and pink. They are so colorful, they remind me of jellybeans!

All captive budgerigars are divided into two basic series of colors: white-based (includes skyblue, cobalt, mauve, gray, violet, and white) and yellow-based (includes light-green, dark-green, gray-green, olive, and yellow). There are at least 32 primary mutations in the budgerigar, enabling hundreds of possible secondary mutations and color varieties.

Base Color: White (includes skyblue, cobalt, mauve, gray, violet, and white)

Dark Factor in White Series

There are 3 color variations for both the white (blue) series and the yellow (green) series birds. In the white series, the dark factor genes make these color variations:

White (blue) series:
0 dark factors = skyblue
1 dark factors = cobalt
2 dark factors = mauve

Albinos and DF spangles still have dark factors but they are not visual.

Albino male American parakeet "Cory"

Budgerigar

Gray greywing American parakeet. The bars on the forehead indicate this is a baby.

Skyblue Cinnamon-Wing English Budgie "Ontario"

Yellowface cobalt male American parakeet "Pluto"

INSERT PHOTO OF MAUVE

Violet greywing American parakeet "Polly"

Base Color: Yellow (includes light-green, dark-green, gray-green, olive, and yellow)

Dark Factor in Yellow Series

There are 3 color variations for both the white (blue) series and the yellow (green) series birds. In the yellow series, the dark factor genes make these color variations:

Yellow (green) series:
0 dark factors = light Green
1 dark factors = dark Green
2 dark factors = olive

Mutations like lutinos and DF spangles still have dark factors but they are not visual.

Lutino American Parakeet "Lemondrop"

Light green opaline spangle English budgie x American parakeet mix "Jupiter"

Dark green English budgie x American parakeet cross "Picasso"

(INSERT PHOTO OF OLIVE GREEN)

Grey-green opaline English budgie "Patootie"

Gray Factor

Gray-Green Opaline baby male English Budgie ("Patootie")

(INSERT PHOTO OF BLUE GREY + COMMENTS)

Violet Factor

Violet greywing American parakeet "Polly"

(INSERT COMMENTS RE: VIOLET)

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:

Dilute

Dilute opaline blue American parakeet "Blue Belle"

When a budgie has two of the recessive Dilute genes, its markings and color are about 70% washed out when compared to a normal.

Greywing

Greywing blue American Parakeet "Polly"

Greywing light-green American parakeet "Mellow Yellow"

A homozygous Greywing (or a Greywing budgie with the recessive Dilute gene) has gray wing markings and a 50% diluted body color.

Full-Body-Color Greywing

Full-Body Color Greywing light green American parakeet "Bandit"

When a budgie has both the Greywing and Clearwing gene, it is a Full-Body-Color Greywing with grey wing markings and bright body color.

Clearwing

Clearwing dark green American parakeet "Dijon"

A homozygous Clearwing (or a Clearwing budgie with the recessive Dilute gene) has less pigment in the wings, causing very light markings, and more pigment in the body feathers, causing a bright body color.

Dilution Breeding Outcomes:

Normal – dominant
Greywing – recessive, co-dominant with clearwing
Clearwing – recessive, co-dominant with greywing
Dilute – recessive

normal + normal => normal
normal + greywing => normal split greywing
normal + clearwing => normal split clearwing
normal + dilute => normal split dilute
greywing + greywing => greywing
greywing + clearwing => full body color greywing
greywing + dilute => greywing split dilute
clearwing + clearwing => clearwing
clearwing + dilute => clearwing split dilute
dilute + dilute => dilute

Two full-body-color greywings =
50% Full-body-color greywing
25% Greywing
25% Clearwing

Ino (Lutino / Albino)

Lutino (solid yellow with red/pink eyes) American parakeet, “Lemon Drop”

Albino American parakeet

The ino gene removes all the melanin (the substance that creates all the dark colors) removed, so a blue series budgie becomes white (Albino) and a green series one become yellow (Lutino). The gene also removes the dark shade from the skin and beak leaving them with pink legs and an orange beak. The dark color of the eye is also gone leaving a red eye with a white iris ring, and the cheek patches are silvery white. It removes the blue shade from the cocks cere too so he’ll have a pink/purple colored cere; the hen’s cere is the usual white to brown shade. Because usually only the white and yellow colors are left, an ino can hide the fact that it also has other varieties present genetically. The only varieties that show are the yellow faces or golden faces and they are only obvious on an albino budgie.

Ino (Albino / Lutino) Breeding Outcomes:

The ino gene is sex-linked and recesssive:

ino x ino =
-100% ino

ino cock x normal hen =
-50% normal/ino cocks
-50% ino hens

normal cock x ino hen =
-50% normal/ino cocks
-50% normal hens

normal/ino cock x normal hen =
-25% normal cocks
-25% normal/ino cocks
-25% ino hens
-25% normal hens

Yellowface

Yellowface blue English budgie "3 Point Play"

Yellowface budgies are in between yellow-based budgies and white-based budgies and the genetics are complicated. There are different degrees of the level of yellow pigment but it is less than the yellow-based variety. The double factor birds contain less yellow than single factor birds. The Yellowface mutation is possible in all of the blue series birds, including Albinos, Dark-Eyed Clears, Grays, Violets and in all their three depths of shade (ie. Skyblue, Cobalt, Mauve). Green series birds can mask a Yellowface character, and they can carry both Yellowface and Blue splits at the same time. Visually, there are two types of Yellowface: Type 1 and Type 2:

Type 1 Yellowface:

Yellowface type 1 cobalt (or skyblue SF violet) clearflight or dominant pied opaline American parakeet, "Rainbow".

In Type 1, the yellow is confined to the mask feathers, plus maybe the peripheral tail feathers, only. The body feathers are normally colored.

Type 2 Yellowface:

Yellowface type 2 skyblue Greywing American Parakeet. The Yellowface type 2 mutation "bleeds" down into the blue body color, creating a seafoam-green effect. "Mint Julep"

Yellowface type 2 American parakeet, "Navaho". Note that in the YF 2 mutation, the yellow spreads into the blue body color to create turquoise.

Type 2 Yellowface budgies have yellow in the mask feathers and tail, just like the Type 1. However, after the first molt at around 3 months of age, the yellow diffuses into the body color and creates a new color, depending on the original color. The single factor (SF) Yellowface 2 Skyblue variety is like a normal Light Green but has a very bright body color midway between blue and green — a shade often called sea-green or turquoise. The body feathers of the SF Yellowface 2 Cobalt are bottle-green and in the SF Yellowface 2 Mauve they are a mixture of mauve and olive. The double factor (DF) Yellowface 2 Skyblue variety is very similar to the Yellowface 1 Skyblue, but the yellow pigmentation is brighter, and tends to leak into the body feathers to a greater extent.

(INSERT PHOTO OF RAINBOW)

In combination with the Blue, Opaline and Clearwing mutations, the single factor (SF) Yellowface 2 mutation produces the variety called Rainbow.

Yellowface Breeding Outcomes:

The yellowface type 2 gene is dominant to the yellowface type 1, meaning that it is visually expressed and the type 1 is masked in a genotypically type 1 x type 2 bird. When two yellowface type 1 skyblues are paired together, half the chicks will be yellowface type 1 skyblues and half will be normal skyblues in appearance. But half of these apparent skyblues will be double factor (DF) yellowface 1’s. Here are the breeding expectations using punnett squares:

Yellow face budgie Punnet Squares

Striping Pattern Mutations

Cinnamon

Grey-Green Cinnamon-Wing English Budgie "Homewood"

(INSERT PHOTO OF BLUE CINNAMON-WING)

Cinnamon Light Green Opaline Budgie (photo by Sebastian Ritter)

All the markings which appear black or dark gray in the Normal appear brown in the Cinnamon. The Cinnamon markings on cocks tend to be darker than on hens. The long tail feathers are lighter than Normals. The body color and cheek patches are much paler, being about half the depth of color of the Normal. The feathers of Cinnamons appear tighter than Normals, giving a silky appearance. The eyes of the newly-hatched Cinnamon are not black like the eyes of Normals, but deep plum-colored. This color can be seen through the skin before the eyes open. A few days after the eyes open, the eye darkens and is then barely distinguishable from the that of a Normal chick, but by this time the difference in down color is visible: Normal chicks have gray down, but Cinnamon (and Opaline and Ino) chicks have white. The skin of Cinnamon chicks is also redder than Normal’s, and this persists into adulthood: the feet of Cinnamons are always pink rather than bluey-gray. The beak tends to be more orange in color.

In birds, the cock has two X chromosomes and the hen has one X and one Y chromosome. So in hens whichever allele is present on the single X chromosome is fully expressed in the phenotype. Hens cannot be split for Cinnamon (or any other sex-linked mutation). In cocks, because Cinnamon is recessive, the Cinnamon allele must be present on both X chromosomes (homozygous) to be expressed in the phenotype. Cocks which are heterozygous for Cinnamon are identical to the corresponding Normal. Such birds are said to be split for Cinnamon. The Cinnamon with Ino can create the Lacewing variety.

Cinnamon Breeding Outcomes:

Cinnamon is a sex-linked recessive gene:

cinnamon x cinnamon =
-100% cinnamon

cinnamon cock x normal hen =
-50% normal/cinnamon cocks
-50% cinnamon hens

normal cock x cinnamon hen =
-50% normal/cinnamon cocks
-50% normal hens

normal/cinnamon cock x normal hen =
-25% normal cocks
-25% normal/cinnamon cocks
-25% cinnamon hens
-25% normal hens

normal/cinnamon cock x cinnamon hen =
-25% normal cocks
-25% normal/cinnamon cocks
-25% cinnamon hens
-25% normal hens

Opaline

On the left is a normal marked parakeet. On the right is an Opaline. (Left: "Dumbledore". Right: "Rowling").

The striping pattern on the head feathers is reversed so that there are thicker white areas and thinner black stripes. Another feature 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. Most Opalines show a brighter body color than the corresponding non-Opaline, particularly in nest feather and in the rump area. The Opaline (and the Cinnamon) can be identified at a very early age because the color of the down feathers of the young nestling are white instead of the usual gray.

Opaline Breeding Outcomes:

Opaline is a sex-linked recessive gene:

opaline x opaline =
-100% opaline

opaline cock x normal hen =
-50% normal/opaline cocks
-50% opaline hens

normal cock x opaline hen =
-50% normal/opaline cocks
-50% normal hens

normal/opaline cock x normal hen =
-25% normal cocks
-25% normal/opaline cocks
-25% opaline hens
-25% normal hens

normal/opaline cock x opaline hen =
-25% normal cocks
-25% normal/opaline cocks
-25% opaline hens
-25% normal hens

Spangle

Violet-blue opaline SINGLE FACTOR spangle American parakeet x English budgie, "Mars".

Opaline DOUBLE FACTOR SPANGLE English budgie, "Sunny".

SINGLE Factor Spangle: The markings on the wings, the throat spots and the tail feathers are altered on the single factor Spangle. The feathers have a white or yellow edge, then a thin black pencil line, then the center of the feather is yellow or white. The throat spots are often all or partly missing but if present look like targets, with a yellow or white center. The long tail feathers can be like the wing feathers with a thin line near the edge, or they may be plain white, yellow or solid dark blue as in a normal.

DOUBLE Factor Spangle: Pure white or yellow bird, though sometimes with a slight suffusion of body color.

Both types of Spangle have normal dark eyes with a white iris ring and normal ceres. Their feet and legs can be gray or fleshy pink. They can have either violet or silvery white cheek patches (or a mixture of both).

Spangle Breeding Outcomes:

Spangle is an incomplete dominant gene. This means it has three forms: the non-spangle, the single factor spangle and the double factor spangle. Spangle genetics sometimes do not act as expected.

normal x single factor spangle:
– 50% normal
– 50% single factor spangle

normal x double factor spangle:
– 100% single factor spangle

single factor spangle x single factor spangle
– 25% normal
– 50% single factor spangle
– 25% double factor spangle

single factor spangle x double factor spangle
– 50% single factor spangle
– 50% double factor spangle

double factor spangle x double factor spangle
– 100% double factor spangle

Pied Mutations

All pied budgerigars are characterized by having irregular patches of completely clear feathers appearing anywhere in the body, head or wings. These clear feathers are pure white in blue-series birds and yellow in birds of the green series. Such patches are completely devoid of black melanin pigment. The remainder of the body is colored normally.

Dominant Pied

Skyblue dominant pied American parakeet "Rain"

Dark Green SF Dominant Pied baby male American parakeet "Tuxedo"

Skyblue opaline dominant pied female American parakeet, "Paisley".

The white iris ring identifies this as a DOUBLE FACTOR (DF) Dominant Pied Skyblue adult female American Parakeet. "Mostly Cloudy"

Skyblue odd-eyed pied (double-factor dominant/split recessive) American parakeet. Her left eye has an eye-ring but the right eye doesn't. "Cloudy Too"

Recessive Pied

Light Green Recessive Pied male American Parakeet "Sunshine"

Light green opaline recessive pied American parakeet "Wesley"

Clearflight Pied

(INSERT PHOTO OF CLEARFLIGHT PIED)

The Clearflight Pied has two main characteristics: a clear patch on the back of the head and, ideally, completely clear primary flight and long tail feathers. All other features are normal. Sometimes the major coverts (row of feathers above the flight feathers) are also clear. Usually there are some small patches of clear body feathers up around the neck. Poorly marked Clearflight Pieds can look like Recessive Pieds, but they can be distinguished from them by the white iris ring, which is always present in adult Clearflights. Some specimens may also resemble Australian Pieds but may be distinguished from them by two characteristics: Clearflights have normally colored blue-gray feet (Dominant Pieds usually have pink feet), and second, if they possess extensive clear areas on the breast, these always extends down from the mask whereas the clear areas of a Dominant Pied are always lower down on the abdomen with an area of normal body color immediately below the mask and separated from it by a sharp dividing line

The inheritance pattern of Clearflight Pied is the same as Dominant Pied. However, Clearflight Pied is unrelated to either Dominant Pied or Recessive Pied, and a budgie can have any combination of the three pieds at the same time. There are only two alleles for Clearflight Pied: the normal gene and the Clearflight Pied gene. The Clearflight Pied gene is completely dominant to the recessive normal gene. This means that a single-factor (sf) Clearflight Pied looks the same as the double-factor (df) Clearflight Died.

Dark-Eyed Clear

(INSERT PHOTO OF DARK-EYED CLEAR)

Dark-eyed Clears are completely clear (yellow or white) with no trace of the ghost markings often seen in Inos. The eye stays solid black (which can appear a dark plum color in some lights) with no visible iris ring, like Recessive Pieds. The Dark-Eyed Clear’s dark eyes never lighten with age. The cheek patches are silvery white, and the beak, cere and feet are also like those of the Recessive Pied. 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.

Dark-eyed Clears are a combination of the Recessive Pied and Clearflight Pied mutations, having two Recessive Pied alleles and either one or two Clearflight Pied alleles. When Clearflight Pieds are paired with Recessive Pieds and the resulting Clearflights/Recessive Pied young are paired back to Recessive Pieds, some birds are produced with one Clearflight Pied allele and two Recessive Pied alleles.

Rare Mutations

Texas Clearbody

The young hen on the left is a Texas Clearbody, considered a rare mutation. I photographed her sitting next to the young normal green hen (right) to show what it means: Texas Clearbodies can be either all yellow or all white with black markings -- the best ones have very little green or blue suffusion in their feathers.

Opaline gray-green Texas Clearbody (a rare mutation; visually all mustard yellow throughout with black markings), American x English cross. “Georgia O’Keeffe”

Texas Clearbody Breeding Outcomes

The Texas Clearbody is sex-linked recessive to normal but sex-linked dominant over Ino.

Ino cock × Clearbody hen
50% Clearbody/Ino cocks
50% Ino hens

Clearbody cock × Ino hen
50% Clearbody/Ino cocks
50% Clearbody hens

Clearbody/Ino cock × Ino hen
25% Clearbody/Ino cocks
25% Ino cocks
25% Clearbody hens
25% Ino hens

Clearbody/Ino cock × Clearbody hen
25% Clearbody cocks
25% Clearbody/Ino cocks
25% Clearbody hens
25% Ino hens

Normal/Clearbody cock × Ino hen
25% Clearbody/Ino cocks
25% Normal/Ino cocks
25% Clearbody hens
25% Normal hens

Clearbody cock × Normal hen
50% Normal/Clearbody cocks
50% Clearbody hens

Clearbody/Ino cock × Normal hen
25% Normal/Clearbody cocks
25% Normal/Ino cocks
25% Clearbody hens
25% Ino hens

Normal/Clearbody cock × Clearbody hen
25% Normal/Clearbody cocks
25% Clearbody cocks
25% Clearbody hens
25% Normal hens

Normal/Clearbody cock × Normal hen
25% Normal/Clearbody cocks
25% Normal cocks
25% Clearbody hens
25% Normal hens

Normal cock × Clearbody hen
50% Normal/Clearbody cocks
50% Normal hens

Clearbody cock × Clearbody hen
50% Clearbody cocks
50% Clearbody hens

Normal/Ino cock × Clearbody hen
25% Clearbody/Ino cocks
25% Normal/Clearbody cocks
25% Ino hens
25% Normal hens

Lacewing

(INSERT PHOTO OF LACEWING)

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See more pictures and descriptions of budgie parakeet colors, varieties and mutations on Our Flock page!

Here’s a great off-site resource with lots of photos and genetic information.

More Budgie Parakeet Pages:

Hand-fed Budgies and Parakeets available in Colorado!: Our family raises, hand-feeds, trains and adores Budgie Parakeets. Learn more about our selective breeding program and view our gorgeous, tame birds.

Inside Our Aviary: See where our birds live — flight enclosures, breeding room, play gyms.

Our Flock of Adult Budgie Parakeets: Take a peek at our gorgeous feathered friends. Lots of photos!

Adorable Pictures of Our Hand-fed Babies: Come ooh and aahh over all the cuteness and watch them grow up!

Pre-Adoption Questionnaire: If you are interested in adopting one (or more) of our parakeets when they become available, please respond to these questions.

Budgie Baby Waiting List: I know how hard it is to wait when you’re excited but I promise you, the wait is worth it!

FAQ (frequently asked questions): What is a Budgie Parakeet’s personality like? What are the differences between American Parakeets and English Budgies? How do you tell a male from a female? Should you keep one, two or more? How long do they live? Where did the species originate?

How To Care For Your Pet Budgie Parakeet: Learn about housing, cages, homemade aviaries, cleaning tips, health, safety, nutrition, exercise, playtime activities, toys, and more.

Bird Nutrition and Food Recommendations: Malnourishment is a leading cause of premature death in pet birds. We provide lists of healthy foods, and tell you how to grow your own sprouts.

Training, Talking, Tricks: Entertaining video demonstrations and informative tips.

Colors, Varieties, Mutations, Genetics: Budgie Parakeets come in a rainbow of colors. This page has beautiful photos and variety descriptions.

Bird and Parrot Playgyms, Stands and Perches for Sale: Learn how to make your own — or order a custom one from us.

Homemade Aviaries and Flight Cages: How to converted used furniture into large flight cages and beautiful indoor aviaries.

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