The Revival of the Faded

My first experience with the Faded variety came about in December 1985, when I returned from Albury, N S Wales, where I had been working, in order to relieve my brother who had been caring for my budgerigars while I had been away.

In one nest box a pair were hatching their third round which comprised of nine fertile eggs. The third and fourth chicks to hatch had pink eyes, and like anybody else would, I assumed that I had bred a couple of cinnamon hens. At this stage the cinnamon chicks held little significance as I was more concerned with getting all nine eggs to hatch. The last three eggs were fostered as they were starting to become dirtied by the excreta of their elder brothers and sisters. By the time the three eldest chicks had left the nest the youngest three were ready to be returned, and it was this procedure that was successfully adopted.

It was also at this time that it became obvious that I had some “funny coloured” cinnamons among the clutch and a search through the cocks ancestry was undertaken. The father of these “pink-eyed” birds was, what I refer to as a Light Greywing Cobalt, because the Greywing is not as the standard requires. His mother was a Normal Cobalt bred in 1983 from a South Australian cock obtained from a local pet shop (BSSA S1 8933) and which passed at first glance like a pretty reasonable Clearwing Laurel. The father of the Greywing Cobalt cock was another pet shop Grey green, which had, two years previously, been paired to a cinnamon opaline green hen. Not one of the fourteen chicks they raised was cinnamon, so obviously or very unlikely, the grey green was not split for cinnamon. It was obvious then, that I was dealing with a variety other than cinnamon, firstly because there was no cinnamon in the background and secondly because one of the young “pink-eyes” was taking on the characteristics of a cock bird (85 97828).

Any knowledgeable breeder will inform you that if one wishes to breed sex-linked cocks then the mother must show the sex-linked gene. The only alternative since the parents were normal, was that a recessive gene must have come into play. As it happened, the mother of the “pink-eyes” was a Violet Laurel split for Light Greywing and for blue, and she was the daughter of BSSA 81 8933, the South Australian bird, and a Violet opaline hen. Thus in a very short space of time I had found the source of the “pink-eyed” gene. Then followed a search for those descendants of BSSA 81 8933 which I still possessed and which may have been carrying the Faded gene.

All was not plain sailing from here, however, although it was assumed at the time that it would be. Most of the chicks from the first two rounds had by now been disposed of, even before the third round had been hatched. Nevertheless I remember thinking that I could readily form two pairs and be well under way with this odd variety,

As I was a member of the Budgerigar Council of Australia at the time at their Albury branch, I took these two “odd” birds down there to show them to the more senior members of the club, and to ask their. Much interest was aroused, but no offers to buy the pair were received. The two senior judges present commented that they had never seen birds anything quite like these before and that I should persist in attempting to breed them in all the normal shades and varieties.

During 1986 it was decided to pair the 1985 young Faded Olive? (86 97831) to his sister Faded Light-Greywing Mauve? (86 97831) and to pair their mother the Violet Laurel/Light Greywing Blue Faded to one of her Violet sons (85 2211) reasoning that I had a 2/3 chance that he too would be also split Faded. This later proved to be the case. I also remember trying to pair the Light Greywing Cobalt (84 40963) back to his mother, the Cobalt (83 49134) but recall that she played football with anything white that appeared in the nest box

Anything produced (hatched) by the pair of young “plum-eyes” lasted for a day or less and the young Faded hen died 21/11/86 much to my disappointment. The second pairing was more fruitful however, and out of eight chicks two Faded hens were produced, (87 2197) This was a Faded Mauve or Violet Mauve of good size. Her sister (87 21300) a Faded Light-Greywing Violet, a very attractive colour but somewhat smaller bird. Both these hens were shown to a couple of Budgerigar Society of Australia judges (I was living in Wollongong) but their reaction was one of little interest. I was disappointed at their reaction which was contrary to the objects of the Society in that the cultivation of new varieties is to be given priority according to a major BSA document,

I was at this time still determined however, to find out what variety these birds were. The answer came, (I thought), when leafing through a book at a stand at the BSA Annual Show, The title of the book The World of Budgerigars by the noted British author, Cyril Rogers, contained a description of the “the Faded variety” which had features similar to the birds I had been attempting to breed. I soon penned a letter containing photographs to Mr Rogers via Gerald Binks, then editor of Budgerigar World, telling him of my birds, and asking for more information. A letter was promptly returned in which Mr Rogers said “their eye colour and poor breeding results points to the fact that they are the Faded”. This news and opinion was good enough for me so I have called my plum-eyed birds Fadeds ever since. I have recently sent Mr&nsp;Rogers a letter telling of progress since March 1990, I only hope that he will be as pleased as I, since he was the last person in England to breed the Fadeds, now, many years ago,

In 1987 the Faded Olive? (85 97328) was paired to the Faded Mauve (violet mauve) (86 21297). They produced one chick which died at one day old. The hen died some four months later of egg peritonitis on 19/12/87. Her sister the Faded light-Greywing Violet (87 21300) fared a little better. She was paired to a son of the South Australian cock which just happened to be split Faded. They produced a Faded Spangle Violet Sky cock (87 10190). This bird bred up until late 1992, although under unfavourable conditions.

The reader should be able to see by now, from the examples given above that the breeding of the first of my line of Faded budgerigars was not as easy a task as once anticipated, although it has been made a little easier in the past few years.

When using birds that are split for a variety, and one has little knowledge of their genetic make-up, a number of speculative pairings have to be called upon. Sometimes these will prove fruitful and at other times they are of little use whatsoever. I can assure the reader that up to 1989 that this was my predicament.

In 1987 one such speculative pairing was made, a Light-greywing Sky/opaline (84 40988) brother of the Light-greywing cobalt (84 40963) was paired to a runt of a Cobalt hen which was actually split Faded. This pairing provided two birds which have proved instrumental in the continuance of this variety, (87 10198) a Faded Cobalt cock and (88 4436) a Faded Sky cock were produced. The Faded Cobalt cock was paired in 1989 a half-Scoble hen (88 4431) and a Opaline Grey Green (85 6774) and a Lewis/Kakoschke cock, and father of the half-Scoble hen, was paired to a Faded Laurel hen (87 10151). This was done firstly, and most importantly, to provide a vigorous outcross and secondly to introduce the grey and opaline genes. The Faded Cobalt cock paired to the Opaline Grey Green hen (half-Scoble), produced 16 young splits. More importantly the Warren Lewis bred Opaline Grey Green succeeded in fathering 6 young splits from his Faded partner. It is not often that Faded hens will produce chicks in such quantity, if at all.

These outcrosses I feel, have provided the vigour that was lacking in the previous strain of Fadeds. This has, however, been at some detriment to the body colour and to the depth of markings. Hopefully this may be corrected through the use of a non-Scoble non-Kakoschke strain.

Just when you think that all is proceeding well, nature brings you back to earth with a thud. In my case it was psittacosis. From the end of 1989 many of my best birds as well as the Fadeds were lost. Of the twenty-six split Fadeds bred in 1989 only fourteen survived the following year, and others have died since .Through not observing proper quarantine measures I had placed my flock in an unenviable situation. The fact that it took from early l99O to late 1992 for a veterinarian to accurately diagnose and treat the disease has not helped matters either.

Luckily no Fadeds were paired in 1990, but in 1991 the Faded Sky Blue cock referred to earlier (88 4436) when paired to a Laurel/Faded hen (from 88 4431 the half-Scoble hen) produced eleven birds. Of these the two Faded cocks and the two split Faded hen have been the ones to produce. One Faded Cobalt hen (there were two normal Green Fadeds) was tried but she produced only pea-sized clear eggs. Another pair of splits bred well also. Both were Grey Laurel/Blue type II. The hen was opaline while the cock was split opaline. A large number of splits were bred. Of the surviving Fadeds, two are Grey, (possibly cobalt grey) and two Grey Laural Green. The two Greens and one of the Greys are cock birds and all are opalines. These Faded opalines are all of a distinctive body colour and the lone hen has much more darker markings than the cocks as one would expect. The body colour of the Faded Opaline Grey and Grey Greens is much lighter than their normal counterpart. The Greys are the colour of heavily suffused whites while the Grey Greens are of a mustard-coloured shade. These features alone warrant the inclusion of the Faded as a separate variety in the National Standard. In addition normal Faded cocks have ouch more clearly defined markings than ordinary normal cocks along with a violet cheek patch.

During this past season the Fadeds have continued to breed well with one exception. Sufficiently well in fact for me to assert that the Faded variety is once again an entity and entitled as such to be a recognised variety on the show scene.

The above article appeared in the Rare Variety and Colour Budgerigar Society Newsletter Winter 1993/94 with the following editorial note:

This article written by Mark Goodsell of Australia and sent to Wally Walraven (Amsterdam) and gives a very exciting account of his work with “Faded Budgerigars”, apparently a plum-eyed variety which was first identified in 1932 by a Mr Coulson of Lincoln. The late Cyril Rogers refers to this and subsequent re-appearances in the 1970’s in The World of the Budgerigar pages 122/123. Cyril indeed bred a number until fate took a hand, we are indebted to Mark Goodsell for his work and endeavours and to Wally for sharing this exciting article with us. It will raise many questions and theories, How often do varieties go unrecognised? A question we cannot answer, but Cyril discovered his “Faded” in a mixed flight and described as an “odd” Greywing, by the owner!

Colin Putt

In 1998, Ken Yorke kindly sent these photos to accompany this web page together with these notes:

These photos were all given to me by the original breeder Mark Goodsell. Each photo shows a comparison between a variety of budgerigar and its Faded equivalent.Points to note in the photos are that in all cases the Faded bird has less than full intensity in colour of wing markings and body colour and the feet are much pinker (in fact some examples bright pink).

Normal Sky Blue and a Faded Sky Blue Opaline Grey Green and a Faded Opaline Grey Green
Normal and Faded Sky Blues Normal and Faded Opaline Grey Greens
Light green and a faded light green Opaline Light Green and a Faded Opaline Light Green
Normal and Faded Light Greens Normal and Faded Opaline Light Greens

Copyright 1998, Mark Goodsell


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