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Recessive Pieds


Cottrell by Dave Cottrell

 At the Lancashire, Cheshire & North Wales B.S. area Championship show in 1979 after I had been stewarding, I wandered round the show hall waiting for the show to open to the public. One of my points of call was to the selling classes. As I had benched the best Novice breeder, a young grey cock, I was very pleased with myself. Having studied the main selling classes and found nothing to interest me I was about to head for the bar when I noticed a few show cages down the next isle. When I looked at them, it turned out to be the A.O.V. Bird class. I studied these birds for a few minutes and decided to purchase two young recessive pied cocks bred by Mike Ingham. Mike had won the breeder C.C. at the show. I telephoned him at home and asked for a couple of hens to pair them up to. These were my first recessive pieds and the foundation of my present stud. Whilst I keep a number of other colors, my main success has been with recessive pieds with my proudest win being at Convention 90 where my cinnamon dark green recessive pied cock won the C.C. with a recessive cobalt cock from the same family 2nd in the class. This was also the bird featured on the front cover of The Budgerigar late in 1990.

What is a recessive pied? What is the difference between a recessive and dominant pied?

A recessive pied is a bird where the body color is broken, into either green and yellow or blue and white. In a recessive pied the bird will have a solid plum eye, while a dominant pied will have a normal eye complete with iris (white ring in the eye).

You must check the eye of any pied to determine if it is dominant or recessive. Any bird with an eye ring is classed as dominant and is shown in the dominant class.

Three Pairings - How do you breed recessive pieds?

There are three main ways of breeding visual recessive pieds.

  1. Recessive pied x recessive pied.
  2. Split recessive x recessive pied.
  3. Split recessive x split recessive.

Pairing No. 1, visual recessive pied x visual recessive pied, will produce 100% visual recessive pieds.
Pairing No. 2, visual recessive pied x split recessive pied, will produce 50% visual split recessive pieds.
Pairing No. 3, split recessive x split recessive, will produce 25% visual recessive pieds, 50% split recessive pieds and 25% normal (Non-Pieds).

There is no way of telling which of the non pieds are normal and which are split pieds except by breeding them. This pairing is therefore not one that I would suggest and I can not recall ever having used this pairing. I would recommend that for the first couple of years pairing No. 2 would be best. Pairing of visual recessive pied of either sex and of split hens is so that I can see the degree of dark feathers in the wing. Nearly all recessive pied hens have dark wings while the cocks are usually much better marked. I would think very long and hard before I used visual cocks that are dark wing. I am very lucky now in the fact that I have a number of top quality visual pied cocks to use, but I use very few dark wings. I have found over many years that these dark winged birds breed youngsters with the same markings. Should the bird be a very high quality I would still retain it but use it in a different way. Hens that are dark are not such a problem and are still capable of breeding well marked youngsters. If a dark winged cock of exceptional quality was retained, I would use it in pairing No. 1, visual pied x visual pied. The hen would have to be very well marked to compensate for the cock and, as these hens are very valuable in the breeding cages, must be used to the best advantage.

As I have progressed through the hobby, I have tried a number of different pairings and the way I now breed most of my recessive pieds is the opposite to that I used when I first started with the variety. In 1991 I put down 10 pairs to breed recessive pieds. Out of these 10 pairs only two split hens were used and I did not use any split cocks. The reason being that the visual birds I have is so high a standard that the visual pieds are better birds than the splits I have available. The results of my 1991 breeding season are already proving themselves on the show bench. I took the breeder C.C. at the Specialist & Rare variety show with a recessive pied light green cock, and two weeks later took the C.C. at Merseyside B.S. with a Cinnamon recessive pied olive green hen. This young hen was bred from the Cinnamon Recessive Pied Dark Green Cock which won at Convention 90. A further week later at Clwyd B.S., where no fewer than 98 recessive pieds were entered, we benched both the C.C. winner and the best breeder.

I also put down two pairs to produce splits for use in 1992. I am very short of good blue series birds so I put down a pair to breed blue splits, a cobalt cock bred from a family that has bred several C.C. winners paired to a recessive pied yellow face violet hen from the same family as my Convention winning cock. This pair produced in the first round 3 very good quality yellowface hens which I think will prove to be very useful in my future breeding programs. I also paired my best normal cock, a light green that won the C.C. at Clwyd B.S. in 1990 and was 4th Best Champion Any Age at Preston B.S. Championship show. This pairing failed to produce any youngsters but both birds bred later in the year with different partners. This will indicate the quality of normals I now demand for use in breeding splits.

Readers should not feel that they have to have normals of C.C. quality before they can start with recessive pieds; you don't. It all depends on the area in which you live. Within 30 miles of my house are a large number of recessive breeders, such as Mike Ingham, who has benched C.C. winners at the B.S. Club Show. Only two years ago I lost a large number of my birds with an outbreak of Psittacosis, which although treated successfully, still resulted in a number of deaths in my breeding team. Mike Ingham offered me any birds that he did not require. With these birds being related to my stud, I accepted this very kind offer. I bred several useful youngsters from these pairings and tried to incorporate them into my main families. Recessive pieds are the ideal challenge for the lower sections as well as the established breeders. If the newcomer has birds to dispose of, the recessive pieds are always good sellers and are popular with the public as pets unlike the greens. The challenge to improve this variety up to the standard of the normals is going to be a long one, but only by a large number of breeders taking up the challenge can this end result be achieved.

A large number of the countries most respected and successful budgie breeders now have recessive pieds in their aviaries, such breeders as Vic Smith, Amos and Thumwood and, the KING himself, Harry Bryan. Take up that challenge now and see if you can win one of those coveted B.S. Challenge Certificates.

Budgerigar Society Scale of Points

Size, shape, balance and deportment

45 points

Size and shape of head

20 points

Color including contrast in variegation

15 points

Wing markings including contrast in variegation

20 points


Note: Black undulations or polka dot markings should not cover more than 15%-20% of the wings.

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