Lutino Cockatiels

 By Peggy Newbury 1999


"COCKATIELS ARE MORE FUN" Have Fun with Blondes, Basic Blondes, Warm Blondes, Milk Chocolate Blondes, Iced Blondes, Platinum Blondes, Silver Blondes, Iced Coffee Blondes, Your Responsibilities (to any Blonde) When overwhelming interest in a particular species of bird, or mutations within that species, wanes, it is time to

    Our Lutino Cockatiel mutation has always been one of the most beautiful of aviary parrots. When it first appeared it was considered a swan among the ordinary grey plumage of the Normal Cockatiel. It was called 'Albino', emphasis on the 'bi' sound, since it first appeared in the United States. It was never a pure white bird and therefore this name was incorrect, as calmer heads have always commented. The mutation (or freak of nature) acts to delete ALL melanin, by definition the grey colouring or pigmentation, from the surface areas of the bird. ALL areas are affected, the feathers, feet, toenails, skin, beak, cere and eyes lose grey,

    The resulting attractive shades of cream, ivory, gold, yellow, orange and any other fanciful description including primrose and buttercup have always been lurking under the effective camouflage tones of dove grey through to charcoal. The lipochromes (or psittacines, coined by George Smith, U.K.) are not enhanced, but revealed. These are the yellow tones.

    From Florida, where this fortunate accident of breeding occurred, Mrs. Moon spread her lovely moonbeams throughout the world as albinos. Because knowledge of genetic inheritance was virtually nil, the cock birds were not used appropriately. Inbreeding, or line breeding, was commonly used to produce the light coloured birds and genetic faults were firmly fixed. Some of these faults we are still trying to eradicate.
    Various conformation faults are encountered in any line bred stock that has not been ruthlessly culled.     The most obvious fault still prevalent in the Lutino is a bald spot at the top of the head behind and in the center of the crest and sometimes running down the back of the head as large as a fingerprint. Although other mutations occasionally have thin feathering or bald spots, this fault seems to be primarily a Lutino fault.
    All cockatoos have a bald area directly behind their crests. Some are more visible than others. I believe that the type of crest influences the extent of light feathering or baldness. Cockatiels are the littlest cockatoo and a lesser area of feathering on their heads is a natural part of the species. However, normal Cockatiels USUALLY have full pin feathering on the head area ' directly behind their crests, but not always. Lutino Cockatiels seldom have full pin feathering in this area BUT it can be found!
    AND-. NO, NO, NO your lovely Lutino will not grow feathers on top of its head as it gets older! If pin feathers are not visible on the heads of chicks before they fledge pin feathers will never appear, Other feathers may grow long enough to fold over and cover this thin or bald area.
    I suggest NEVER using Lutino Cockatiels for breeding unless some pin feathering is evident as a chick. I believe that eradication of baldness in this mutation is a simple matter of selective breeding, one of the most basic tenets in any type of breeding. The BEST stock available paired with the BEST stock available results in some offspring that are BETTER than the parent birds. Generation after generation of bird paired in this way will result in perfectly head feathered birds.
    However, at the same time all other tenets of desirable breeding techniques must be considered. Freakatiels with drooping wings, short fat legs or stubby tails will not improve our hobby. While we strive for good sized birds - within the standard - extra large or tiny birds with beautifully feathered heads will not be rewarded on your show bench or succeed in a breeding plan.
    Certainly the best way to produce ideal Lutinos is to mate Best feathered heads with Best feathered heads, as a geneticist in Perth advised us long ago. This is much easier said in theory than done in our aviaries.     First you find (or breed) your birds with a well feathered head. This bird must also have most or all of the other attributes for a good selective breeding program.
    I have truthfully never bred a Lutino to a Lutino. I have always believed that a Lutino cock to a normal hen and a split cock to a Lutino hen produces better coloured and better feathered birds. Furthermore, the most beautiful mutations I ever produced are from 2 splits, or a split cock with a normal hen. I have never bred an inferior mutation from this type of mating. Since I have been involved in developing several mutations I have never devoted the space to fully develop the Lutino to my satisfaction.
    When one tries to establish a mutation many birds must be kept - just in case - and this involves much space devoted to birds that might be fairly unproductive for a minimum of 5 years. And this is only if all goes perfectly to plan and other like minded breeders help out with some aviary space!
    Certainly, with the Lutino firmly established, and major improvement the goal, much less space need be devoted to selective breeding and the culled birds can be sold to the pet trade.
    At this moment, even with the personal challenges I have had since 1997, I have 3 large flights devoted to the Spangle mutation, plus 2 individual breeding aviaries. At least 50 birds carry this variation. I have been working on this mutation since 1984. Each year I learn something else about this unusual variety. I don't give up easily. This sort of stubbornness is required to strive towards perfection in any mutation. Development does not usually suit those who see breeding Cockatiels as a way of making money. Breeders with business attitudes sensibly profit from the long, boring pursuit of perfection by people like me. Perfection is never achievable. If it is achieved, perhaps our standards have not been high enough!
    Lutino birds have been observed in our wild flocks and some have made their way into Australian aviaries. I would love to know if birds taken directly from the wild have any sort of baldness. Certainly these birds would not have any genes from the original moonbeams.
    The Lutino mutation is a simple sex linked mutation. All directions for colour change are carried on one or both of the genes which direct the gender of the bird. Once this concept is firm in your mind you can dazzle new breeders with any computation of sex linked mutations such as Cinnamon, Platinum. and Yellowface. Adding the sex linked pattern mutation of pearl results in the double sex linked mutation of Lutino-Pearl, understandably, but incorrectly sometimes called Golden Pearl. Directions for the pattern and directions for the melanin deletion are carried on each gene used for sex determination by the cockbird. Perhaps this concept might be better understood if we called it gender linked mutation. Entirely too much sex and not enough gender to remember the issue at hand.

    One side effect of combining Pearl and Lutino is that head feathering is usually improved. I believe that all over feathering is improved. Even the normal or Lutino birds from a family that has Pearl genes seem to have better feathering than a normal or Lutino Cockatiel. This can also be carried to extremes and loose feathering can result.     I hope that my visit here in 1999 might inspire you, as members and breeders, and the club as a whole, towards a five year plan to thoroughly improve the Basic Blonde, and all the variations that prove that blondes can be more fun.     One of the variations that is truly brilliant in an aviary is the addition of the Pied pattern.

This is an autosomal recessive mutation so both parents must visibly carry the pied factor for the breeder to be positive that the glorious yellow bird on the perch is a guaranteed LUTINO-PIED. Pied seems to enhance yellow whenever it is used so the bird appears quite a bright yellow. If the sire is split Pearl as well as visibly Lutino and Pied half of the hen chicks will be OZ BLONDES HAVE MORE FUN

    When I started with Cockatiels most literature available to Australian breeders was from the UK. It took me 10years to realise that the cinnamon mutation so readily available in Europe was not at all like the Australian Cinnamon mutation that had been developed here. All the available information then advised that there was no reason to combine Lutino and cinnamon because the Lutino was dominant to cinnamon. We did not know better AND the very best cock bird that Jeanette Hickford could use to produce the first generation of Australian Cinnamons also carried Lutino and Pearl. All 3 sex linked factors were masked in a normal appearing male. To her shock three sisters were produced, all different.


    The 3rd sister was Cinnamon-Pearl. All hens were also split Pied because the BEST hen Jeanette had was a Pied. We were pleased to see the beautiful birds but had no idea at that time of the real significance of the cinnamon colour on the Lutino ground colour.     The Cinnamon colouration on a Lutino body has a warmer light brown tone because all slight grey shades are deleted from the brown by the Lutino effect.

    This is a mutation times 4. 2 directions for colour change and 1 direction to alter the pattern are now carried on each gene for gender determination by the cock bird. In addition, both parents carry at least 1 factor for pied on one or some of their autosomes.     Now the LUTINO-CINNAMON-PIED and PEARL-PIED are relatively common in Australian aviaries but are still uncommonly beautiful. These simple combinations are still often misunderstood.     These multi mutations cannot be produced with the UK Cinnamon. I'm still not sure the UK and the rest of Europe really believe that the Australian Cinnamon is such an effective mutation. I despair each time I read one of Caroline Holtby's articles which declare that breeding the Lutino and Albino multi mutation is boring. Her articles are very knowledgeable and informative but our editors seldom note that this information is not applicable to the Australian Cinnamon mutation.
    But wait - There is more!
    Genetic knowledge advises us that a 'split' bird should show no visible indication of the split factor. Now I have been able to confirm that a Lutino cock split cinnamon does display cinnamon colouration on the lutino ground colour. This fact has led to a great deal of confusion in identifying mutations within the lutino and cinnamon multi-mutations. A Cinnamon-Lutino cockbird at his peak of 3 years old and good health displays so much cinnamon that a prospective buyer, or even the breeder, could easily doubt that the mutation is represented correctly. This partial dominance of Cinnamon over Lutino is similar to that of Platinum over Lutino.

    Lutino combined with Platinum has certain dominant aberrations, which Mike Anderson has effectively explained.     A stunning mutation occurred which deleted all of the underlying yellow tones of the normal grey Cockatiel. This resulted in the elegant White face.

    As beautiful as this mutation is, many breeders immediately saw the possibilities of combining Whiteface and Lutino to produce a pure white bird. This is merely a combination mutation but it is indeed a truly snow white bird. I call this bird the Australian Ice Blonde.

    It has been enthusiastically welcomed as the Albino - pronounced here as Albeeno. This is a multi mutation of a sex linked recessive mutation Lutino, and an autosomai recessive mutation, Whiteface. It was a surprise to see that the eye in our Albino (or Lutino-Whiteface) was a deep red, not a clear red. Other features are as expected. No melanin be seen because of the Lutino and no lipochromes are visible because of the whiteface.
    Combining the Whiteface-Lutino (commonly called Albino) with Platinum, Silver, Pastel Silver or the UK Cinnamon with Pearl or Pied or both patterns results in a bird that looks like this - a pure white bird which is a multimutation that can be proved only by breeding results, not by observation.
    If you feel like I'm being repetitive or that I'm hitting you over the head with something, YOU'RE CORRECT! No melanin based colour can show on the Lutino or Whiteface-Lutino ground colour.
    BUT ... Australian Cinnamon is visible on the Lutino or Whiteface- Lutino.


    Now, since the Australian Cinnamon is visible on Lutino mutations it is also visible on the Lutino-Whiteface. The cinnamon colour becomes a cool beige because the effect of whiteface removes any hints of gold that are normally part of the cinnamon mutation.
    The cinnamon colour on the basic ICE BLONDE Albino increases in colour until the birds are about 3 years old.     Our ever useful feather patterns are extremely effective in this multi mutation.

    This mutation combines 2 autosomal recessive mutations which both parents must carry, whiteface and pied, and 3 sex linked recessive mutations, lutino, cinnamon and pearl.

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