BREEDING INDIAN RINGNECK MUTATIONS
by Linda Greeson
The variety of mutations possible to produce with the Indian Ring Necks is really mind blowing. More mutations have been established in this species than in any other parakeet other than the Budgerigar. What makes this so exciting is that the future for originating even more variations from the normal green is wide open. The possibilities seem almost without limits.
The Lutino and the Blue mutations have become widely available in the USA in the past ten years, with a consequent drop in price. They are no longer considered rare mutations.
The Lutino male is a pure, bright, buttercup yellow with pink eyes, flesh colored feet and legs, and a red bill. His neck ring is a rose color blending to peach. The female is very similar, except that she lacks the neck ring at maturity.
The plumage of the Blue males shows shades of a delicate powder blue, with the color most vivid on the crown and forehead. The neck ring is an off white or pale gray edged with pure white. The bill is red, and the feet and legs gray. The female is entirely blue with no neck collar. The Blues are still more scarce than the Lutinos, but becoming increasingly popular.
The Albino mutation is snow white with a pink beak and pink eyes. Both sexes lack the neck ring entirely. The first Albinos were bred back in the 1960's and are well established in Australia. They still are proving not as hardy as the others, and more difficult to rear. The Cream Albino is a bone white with red eyes.
The Gray mutation was first bred in Australia in 1978. Its plumage is in three tones of silver, gray, and black. It is actually a blue series bird. When bred to a Blue, it can produce both Blues and Grays. The Gray is a dominant mutation, and when paired with the original dominant Green produces the Gray Green. This is an almost khaki colored bird, not nearly as attractive as the others, but useful in breeding programs.
The Cinnamon mutation is now well established. This bird is a lime yellow with cinnamon colored flights and tail feathers. There is also a double mutation of Cinnamon and Blue which produces a soft blue with a cinnamon over wash.
The Turquoise is a green bird with an overlay of fine, soft blue plumage that changes color depending on the angle of light striking the bird. The effect is almost iridescent and quite striking.
There are only a few of the Yellow Head mutations in this country. This is a sex linked mutation and some breeders are working on combining this with the Blues.
One of the newer mutations being established is the beautiful Pied. Jaynee Salan of California is credited with developing this rare mutation, one of the loveliest being her Blue Pied. This pattern mutation is inherited the same as a color as a simple recessive. No two Pieds are ever exactly alike. The patterns of color differ in each bird, none of the males developing the usual ring collar.
Cobalt Blue, Violet, and Mauve are all exciting color mutations waiting to be established.
WHY ARE SO MANY MUTATIONS POSSIBLE?
The feather structure of the Ringneck allows us to see both blue and green pigmentation. The wide variety of mutations being developed in this species is possible because there are both Blue series birds and Green series birds. The Lutino is actually an Albino in the Green series bird. In the Blue series the Albino is white.
Some colors are the result of a mutation which prevents the production of a certain pigment. A bird, normally Green, which is unable to produce yellow pigment results in a Blue. When a mutation occurs in a Green bird which prevents it from producing melanin, the result is the all yellow Lutino. Pied birds occur when scattered areas over the bird's epidermis are unable to produce melanin.
A BRIEF OVERVIEW OF THE GENETICS INVOLVED
Some mutations have been known to occur in the wild. There is a chance, about like winning the big prize in the lottery, that this miraculous thing will occur in your own aviary. To predict with any accuracy the colors to expect, it is well to work on obtaining some basic knowledge of bird genetics.
There are three basic modes of inheritance of colors in the Ringneck : sex linked, recessive, and dominant. Sex linked colors are Lutino, Cinnamon, and Albino. Recessive colors are Blues and Pieds. Gray is a dominant color which can occur in single factor and double factor forms.
With sex linked colors the male carries two genes for color and the female only one. If you breed a sex linked male (such as a Lutino) to any other color female, all of her female chicks will be the same color as the father. (Lutino) If you breed the sex linked color male (such as Lutino) to a female that is the same color (such as a Lutino), all chicks, both male and female, will be the same color. (Lutino)
With recessive colors, such as Pied or Blue you must have the visual color, or a bird split to that color (carrying a recessive gene for that color) on both sides in order to produce the color. A Blue cock, mated with a Green split to Blue hen will produce 50% Blue chicks and 50% Green split to Blue.
Many hundreds of combinations are possible with the Ringnecks. They are reliable breeders and usually make excellent parents. Because they are "non-pair bond" birds, they do not maintain a close relationship during the year and readily accept a new mate. The new partners adjust to the change rapidly, although a cock who had a green partner the previous year may take longer to start courtship with a Blue or Lutino. Ringnecks often will go to nest as early as eighteen months. This combination of factors makes for a more rapidly moving breeding program than is possible in most other species.
When breeding mutations it is often necessary to the program to retain whole clutches of their young. The best specimens can only be selected after molting has occurred.
In some cases test mating is the only way to determine if the bird is split for a desired color. Considerable aviary space, and staying power in the Aviculturist are requirements.
Because of this it is advisable for a program to be restricted to the production of one mutation, or at the most two compatible mutations such as the Lutino and the Blue. Building up a strain of one of the rare mutations can be a long process, but a totally absorbing and satisfying venture.
Last Updated: April 26, 2013
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