Breeding Dark Factors to Exhibition Standard

Dark GreenCinnamon Cobalt CockMost of the books and articles I have read since coming into the budgerigar fancy, suggest that dark factor birds inherit a factor which makes the single dark factor birds i.e., cobalt and dark green, smaller than their light green or sky blue brothers. The birds carrying the dark factor in double dose i.e., mauve and olive, we are informed, are even smaller in stature. Other articles suggest that the physical body size of birds varies very little and that it is the feather structure which determines the size of the bird we see.

If one is to believe this second statement, the conclusions would be that single dark factor and double dark factor birds inherit a finer feather structure, thus making them appear smaller in stature. Should we want to breed larger cobalts and mauves therefore, we shall have to concentrate on introducing a coarser feather into the dark factor birds.

I have always been attracted to cobalts and dark greens and, given a choice, would concentrate on those colours. Life, however is never that simple and at the end of each breeding season the birds one retains are those nearest to exhibition quality, colour being of secondary importance. Pat and I are perhaps fortunate that among our birds are a number of dark factors which are every bit as large as their skyblue and light green brothers and sisters. How then have we managed to achieve this size and more importantly, retain it.

Many years ago I was fortunate in obtaining a very rich coloured opaline cobalt cock which, although not large, had very good head qualities and lots of blow when displaying. He was used quite extensively in the stud and over the years produced many cobalts and mauves of quality. Overall size however, tended to be a little down with the darker factor birds and I determined to improve this. I looked around for the largest buff-feathered hens I had, irrespective of colour, and these I mated with two or three of the best young cobalts I had bred. I retained all of those displaying intermediate or buff-feathering especially any which were dark factors. Colour was not considered and among the dark factors were cinnamon dark greens and cinnamon greys. As all of these had been bred from cobalts it meant that all of the non-blues were split for blue and the dark factors were split for cobalt blue.

Over the next few years this breeding programme was continued and I ensured that any birds introduced into this family were either buffs or intermediate-feathered bred from a buff parent. As each year went by it was noticed that an increasing number of the dark factor birds displayed feathering of the buff or intermediate type I was seeking and among those would be the cobalts. These were equal in size to their brothers and sisters carrying no dark factor. Eventually I was able to concentrate on pairing cobalt to skyblue, thereby increasing the number of cobalts produced and in time, a cobalt to pied greygreen pairing of Pat’s produced a high quality normal mauve cock from which our present mauves are descended.

To ensure that the desired feathering and size and retained, any dark factors not displaying the necessary credentials are not used in the breeding, irrespective of other desirable features. We have now reached the fortunate situation that quite often, we use dark factor birds to improve the feathering of some of our other families.

Anyone intending to do something similar will need patience and dedication. Colour will have to be of secondary importance, although we have been fortunate in that we have managed to retain in most of our birds, the brilliant colouring of the opaline cobalt that started it all off.

Over the years, many specials have been won by top fanciers with dark green or cobalt budgerigars including Best in Show at the B.S. Club Show, thus demonstrating to all that quality birds in these colours can be bred. My immediate ambition is to breed mauves or opaline mauves capable of winning cc’s. Have a go…..

Original text Copyright 1996, Gren Norris.

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