My beginnings with parrot mutations breeding

August 3rd, 2016 | by Nanda Kishore
My beginnings with parrot mutations breeding

Aviculture is an art where you use birds as your canvas…. it is a slow and steady process, where, patience is the key to success. The joy of holding your art … your produce… your baby is beyond words.

Like everyone else I too started bird keeping as a kid (22 years ago) and my first birds were budgerigars. The little birds blew my mind with the blue and green colours. I noticed that the green birds had a yellow head and the blue budgies had a white head…. but, one out of the 24 birds I had was blue and had a yellow head. That bird was the inspiration for me to understand the genetics of birds… I tried to understand by asking a few people who had birds but, whatever they spoke was gibberish to me.

Later as I joined my college I studied genetics as a subject and began to understand the terms like genes, alleles, chromosomes, mutation, sex liked genes and co-dominant genes, homozygous, heterozygous, phenotype and genotype… etc. My urge for understanding the birds genetic patterns became a burning desire. Though I read about genetics to put it into use was very tricky. When I studied genetics they spoke about the ratio of babies with certain characters…. but, when I crossed birds here the ratios were very different as the number of chicks were varying in number. I started to get confused and was loosing orientation….



Until I met a professor from UCLA at a seminar  hosted by CCMB (center for cellular and molecular biology) and, he told me a very funny quotation “probability is the best way to go wrong…. confidently”. He told me that when you want to breed birds for a certain trait, you must take it up as a project and have a facility to retain all offspring and that the record keeping should be the priority… those words became my moto. My journey had begun.

I wanted to breed my budgies and get colours of my choice. I had to choose one mutation and I chose to have fallow birds (unfortunately I don’t have pictures of those birds anymore) I had one bird which was a fallow (red eyes with very light markings) and I crossed it with a normal blue bird. All the babies were normal blue. We bred the pair for one year and had about 17 chicks. We further inbred the chicks randomly and then got a few lacewings, fallows and spangles. We started to inbreed the fallows with fallows and we got a lot of fallows… spangles with spangles gave us birds with almost clear markings. However, the lack of pure or homozygous pairs was a big big challenge to predict the colour patterns.



(c) Nanda Kishore


We later bred budgies for head crests. I got my hands on two tufted male birds and we started to breed them with normal budgies and later we kept pairing the offspring. The challenge here was to know when you have pushed too far as the crest is a deformity in the birds skull and too much of a crest formation can lead to death if the offspring. After about 4 generations I got some good crested birds. However we could not pair a crested to a crested as the chicks would not survive, we has to keep pairing them with normals of tufted birds…

The day I held my first crested bird I was soo happy. I am convinced that I am an artist with birds as my canvas.

Now that we moved to conures, I like to do the same thing with my green cheek conure mutations. I once bred two yellow sided conures and got two pineapple mutation chicks, and, both were females ( I later learnt that it was a sex linked mutation) I saw that the chicks were fairly good in size and shape compared to the birds in the market. I got a few males and paired them… the chicks I got perfect looking babies. I retained a female and paired it with a normal blue green cheek conure and we got the wild green cheek conure…



(c) Nanda Kishore


I now want to see what the next generation offspring would be like. I think the prospects are a lot with birds like these that are split to soo many genes … you may get normal green birds, blue green cheeks, blue pineapples … etc

The journey has just begun for me with these conures. I hope to see many many colours in my painting.


author: Nanda Kishore

Title photo: (c) Daniel Fernandes This file is lincenced under Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic licence.


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