C & K Welch

 History of the Budgerigar

First recorded in the wild in the late 1700s by a colonist near Parramatta, the budgerigar (Melopisittacus undulatus) has become the most popular cage bird in the world. The name budgerigar comes from the Australian Aboriginal word betcherrygah, which means good food.

The budgie is a native species to the Australian mainland. Large flocks, sometimes in the tens of thousands, inhabit the open grasslands in central Australia, nesting in the spring and summer in the southern areas of the continent. Pairs will nest wherever there is sufficient food for the flock, making their nests in tree hollows, rotting wood, under rocks and even by digging holes in the ground. Nesting usually takes place after rainfall, due to the availability of food and water.

 Time line

  • 1870-75 The very first registered sudden captive-bred colour mutations were Suffused Green (aka Dilute Yellow), Greywinged Green and either one of the two types of Lutino (NSLino &/or SLino) mutations. All three occurred in aviaries in Great Britain or Europe. Of these three mutations, only the Suffused Green (aka Dilute Yellow) has survived. The latter was easily reproduced in great numbers and is nowadays very well established. The first Lutino mutation quickly vanished but it was re-established in Europe some time between 1931 and 1933.
  • 1878-85 The Skyblue mutation suddenly occurred in continental Europe, most probably in Uccle, Belgium. Surprisingly, this variety was not imported in England until 1910.
  • 1915 Single-Factored Dark-Green (aka Dark-Green) in France (where they were then commonly called 'Laurel' which is the french word for Bay (leaf &/or tree))
  • 1916 Double-Factored Dark-Green (aka Olive) in France.
  • 1918-28 Respectively, Greywinged Green and Greywinged Blue appeared in England and continental Europe.
  • 1920
    • Crest-Factor in Australia.
    • Suffused Blue (aka Dilute White) in England and France.
    • Single-Factored Dark_Blue (aka Cobalt) in France.
  • 1921 Double-Factored Dark_Blue (aka Mauve) in France.
  • 1930
    • Single-Factored Violet-Green (aka Violet Factor) in Australia (and were then 1st commonly called 'Satin Green')
    • The first Clearwinged Green (Yellowinged) appeared, developed by H. Pier in Sydney.
  • 1931
    • Cinnamon in England, Australia & Germany.
    • An unknown type of Fallow in California, U.S.A. This soon vanished.
    • The Germanfallow in Germany, recently been genetically classified and identified as the Bronzefallow (aka Brownfallow).
    • A plum-eyed mutation, similar looking to Fallow mutations, occurred in England. This vanished or at least became very rare. This mutation was most probably the Brownwings, one of the rarest colour mutations of the species.
    • The first Albino specimens were produced in both England and continental Europe.
  • 1932
    • Three Fallow mutations occurred in England which became known as the Englishfallow. In Australia these have been genetically classified and identified as the Dunfallow or Greybrownfallow (aka Australianfallow). The Beigefallow or Palebrownfallow has been classified in South-Africa, but no reference seems to be available on this particular mutation.
    • The recessive Anti-dimorphic Pied (aka Danish Pied aka Harlequin) in Denmark.
    • The Australian (aka Banded) Pied in Australia.
  • 1933
    • Green Clearwinged (aka Yellow Wing) and Dominant Grey-Factor appear in Australia.
    • Both the NSL & the SL Lutino gene occurred in England and continental Europe.
    • Three Opaline mutations occurred. An Opaline Green hen was captured in the wild and sold to S. Terril in Adelaide. It was later-on reproduced and is most probably the ancestor of all Opaline specimens in Australia. Two sudden captive-bred Opaline mutations occurred in England and Holland.
  • 1934 Recessive grey factor in England.
  • 1935 The various Yellowfaced_Blue and Goldenfaced_Blue occurred in several locations.
  • 1939-46 Clearflighted_Dutchpied in Belgium.
  • 1948
    • Texas Clearbodied (aka SL-Clearbody) in the U.S.A.
    • Dominant Clearbodied (aka Easley's Clearbodied) in the U.S.A.
    • The first Cinnamon-Ino (aka Lacewings) cross-over mutation was produced in Australia.
    • The first Dark-Eyed-Clear (DEC) variety was produced in Belgium by combining the ADM Pied (aka Danish/Recessive pied) with either one of the two Dutchpied varieties (Continental or Clearflighted).
  • 1970-74 Single-Factored and Double-Factored Spangled specimens were produced in Australia.
  • 1975 Saddleback specimens were produced in Australia.
  • 1992 Blackface specimens make their first appearance in Holland.

[edit] Notes

It is probable that the Greywings mutation survived as the ancestor of all actual Greywings. However, it is possible that the mutation laid dormant in asymptomatic mutant specimens until it was re-established between 1918 and 1925. Blue Greywing specimens were produced later on in 1928.

It is very likely that all Suffused mutation specimens and their varieties are descendants from the first captive mutant specimens. This means that Suffused is the oldest sudden captive-bred colour mutation of the Budgerigar species

 The native budgerigar is a light green colour, with a yellow head and undulating black bands down the back of the head and wings. It is from these wild birds that the first domestic budgerigars were bred, and the species has evolved into the many varieties present today. The first captive breeding took place in Europe in the mid 1850s, leading to various colour and feather structure mutations In the first few decades of the 1900s, especially in-between World War I and II, the keeping and breeding of the Budgerigar had become very popular all around the world.

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