QUESTION: I purchased three pairs of cockatiels from several breeders and have been unable to produce the color of cockatiels I would like to. These birds are unbanded and I am unable to figure out exactly which bird came from which breeder. My first pair, a male and female Lutino, produce only normal and Pearl babies. My second pair is a Lutino-Pearl female and a Cinnamon/Lutino male, and produce only Cinnamon and Pearl babies. My third pair, a Pearl split Lutino/Whiteface male and a Pearl Whiteface female, produce normal and Pearl babies. What is going on, what am I doing wrong? B.M. Ill
ANSWER: Your first pair is not a pair of Lutinos, by your description you have a Lutino female and a totally clear Pied male split Pearl. Totally clear Pieds are impossible to tell from a Lutino. The chicks you hatch will all be Pearl and normal females and Normal males split Lutino, Pied and possibly Pearl. To produce Lutinos you need to get a male that is Lutino or carries Lutino on his genes, such as a male baby from this pair, and breed it to your female. My personal preference would be a Lutino-Pearl male, breed to your female the babies would be Lutino-Pearl females and Lutino/Pearl males thereby allowing you to sex the babies in the nest as soon as they feather out. I would breed your Pied male to a medium (50% Grey, 50% yellow) Pied Female, this should add some color into your Pieds while keeping them mostly yellow.
Your second pair would have to be a Cinnamon-Lutino-Pearl female and a Cinnamon split Pearl and unknown on the Lutino.
(You didn't say how many chicks you have produced from this pair. The more chicks produced the less possible he is split Lutino).
In my experience the Cinnamon on a hen like yours usually shows up on the longest wing feathers first, sometimes looking like dirty wings. This pair should also produce some Cinnamon-Pearl in addition to the Cinnamon and Pearl babies you mentioned.
Your third pair is a Pearl Whiteface female and a Normal split.
Pearl (without additional test breeding the Lutino and Whiteface are unknown). This mating will produce only the offspring you have already mentioned, unless the additional splits are proven. If the additional splits do show up you could also produce Pearl-Whiteface, Charcoal-Whiteface, Lutino-Whiteface (Albino) and Lutino-Pearl-Whiteface(would appear as an Albino). With the problems you are having, I would either purchase additional cockatiels with the desired genetic traits from a reputable breeder (see below) or breed some of the offspring from your previous breedings, if they are of good quality, back to their parents.
The answer is not so much what you are doing or did wrong, but what the individual you bought your birds from is doing or did wrong. There is no excuse for poor record keeping or breeding management, which is by all appearances is the major cause of your problems. The first step toward breeding management is to band your birds. The purpose of bands are to identify the bird, the breeder, society and year of hatching. An unbanded cockatiel is difficult to identify if you own more than just a few birds, let alone what it will produce or who its parents were. Any reputable breeder of birds (1) will band his birds and keep records of matings along with complete family trees (2) should be willing to provide a pedigree (listing family genetics and band numbers, hatch date and any show record) (3) guarantee that the bird does carry the desired genetic background(splits) (4) advise you on desirable matings and the offspring you can expect to produce from the birds you purchase. Remember the only mutation that can show its splits are Pieds, if a bird is unbanded or the breeder doesn't keep records, a good rule to go by is what you see is what you get, so BUYER BEWARE!
QUESTION: I recently received a copy of BIRD TALK and am puzzled, in the article on cockatiels the caption on the picture shows a cockatiel and identifies it as a Lutino Pied. Shouldn't a Lutino-Pied be entirely yellow? J.M. TN
ANSWER: Very observant of you! Yes, a Lutino-Pied should be entirely yellow or white with their longest wing feathers being yellow. There are totally clear Pieds (birds that are lacking any visual dark pigmenting) that look like Lutinos or Lutino-Pieds but are incapable of producing Lutinos. When crossing Lutino with all other mutations (except Cinnamon) the melanin, dark pigments, is totally masked by the lipochrome, yellow or light pigments. When crossing Cinnamon and Lutino, the melanin is not totally masked making a Cinnamon-Lutino appear as a dirty Lutino, a Lutino with a Cinnamon shading on their body. This shading is most noticeable on their longest wing feathers but can give their entire body a cinnamon cast. The Pied in the article you mentioned is a heavy gray Pied probably a hen, as clear pied males are usually more difficult to produce.