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Breeding Albinos To Win

by Harry Willis

 Establishing a stud of budgerigars is something that can not be done overnight or even in a couple of years.

Of the many varieties I have kept since starting up in budgerigars over thirty years ago, Albinos have given me considerable success having won best Albino at the B.S. Club Show, the National Exhibition and the Specialist and Rare Variety Show.

My method of breeding winners is based on line breeding or, as I prefer to call it, "Family Breeding". The family approach can be applied to any variety. Once a family is established, you have the element of pedigree working in your favor. I have been able to pair mediocre looking specimens from a very good family and bred excellent youngsters. Any stud reaching for the top must experiment. It has to be accepted that some experiments work and others do not. If you have faith in the science of genetics, you have a good chance of bringing out the excellent features that you know to be in the family.

The beauty of the Albino lies in its lack of color and markings. Breeding a pure white budgerigar is quite a challenge. Albinos displaying blue suffusion have no place on the show bench, but they can still be used as stock birds by pairing them with Grey factor birds. An Albino cock with a Grey hen is an attractive pairing because Albino hens are bred in the first generation. All the young cocks are split Albinos and so are capable of producing Red-eye chicks whatever they are paired with,

It is well known that Albinos that mask Grey are the ones that most nearly approach the ideal coloration. However, anyone who has paired two Greys together and bred a Blue will not be surprised to learn that two pure white Albinos can occasionally produce one that has blue suffusion. I believe that a Grey White budgerigar has much to offer the Albino breeder as long as it is a good budgerigar. Unfortunately, the same approach is not easily transferred to Lutinos where the Grey factor tends to detract from the deep golden yellow coloration that is so necessary if they are to win.

Some breeders advocate the use of the Grey factor as though it will solve all the color problems an Albino breeder has to face. This is not so. Although it brings great benefits when attempting to breed budgerigars with white bodies, it can also introduce pale brown markings on the wings and mask. These are sometimes incorrectly referred to as cinnamon markings. In fact they are caused by traces of the intense black melanin carried by Greys. So, dipping into the Grey should be undertaken only with caution and not use as a regular mating.

Albinos of Grey White descent display snow white coloration without incurring the problem of wing and mask markings. Unfortunately there are not many good Grey Whites about so I have set up my own line of Gray Whites, with, of course, the added advantage of increasing the number of classes in which I can exhibit.

So what happens when Lutinos are used to produce Albinos? In my view, you can use Lutinos split blue which have sufficient physical qualities to make them extremely useful in an Albino breeding program. However, their further use in breeding Lutinos could be disastrous because so much of their desirable rich color is lost by the introduction of the blue factor.

Which brings me to the best mating of all, as long as the partners have sufficient quality: Albino X Albino. This is the pairing which can bring snow white coloration on a regular basis.

Breeding Albinos is a very rewarding pastime which I would recommend to anyone. There is ample scope for anyone wanting to establish a stud and it has been made a more attractive proposition now that the classes have been separated from Lutinos and Albinos, and Albino now has its own Challenge Certificate at Championship shows. Any keen fancier could make a name for himself as a specialist as long as he forgets the hazard method of pot luck pairings and concentrates instead on selective breeding.

Within our fancy there are those who survive by buying. Fortunately, there are others who get down to work and put their skill into developing a breed. It is the skill of the breeder that brings success.

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