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Rare Budgerigar Varieties,
The Lacewing
by Ghalib Al-Nasser

(Photo. Lacewing Yellow Cock bred by Tony Clegg)

Fanciers have always had a fascination for livestock possessing redeyes and Budgerigar fanciers are no exception.

When the first Lutino, clear yellow bird with red eye, arrived in the 1870's it caused a stir but that strain did not last long. One fancier from Great Britain, who bred the initial Lutino mutation at the end of the last century and early part of this century, was C.P. Arthur. Again like most mutations, an accident or genetical deviation is responsible. Mr. Arthur recalls in his book "Budgerigars and Cockatiels" that he dropped two eggs, which were covered in excrement from the nest, in boiling water to clean them and, although not expecting them to hatch, replaced them back into the nest. Hatch they did and both were clear yellow with red eyes but the mutation was not established. More experimental eggs dipped into hot water did not achieve the desired results in producing any more Lutinos.Nowadays there is a tremendous following all over the World for the beautiful Lutino and to a lesser degree its counterpart the Albino.

The Lacewing Budgerigar is another mutation that has a similar appearance to the Lutino and Albino with the clear body colour of yellow (in the green series) or white (in the blue series) and having the red eye as well. Perhaps the interest in this variety is restricted in comparison to the two Ino varieties but still has its appeal to many including myself. All the above varieties come from one and the same factor. This has the effect of eliminating the melanin of the black pigment in the feathers and even the eyes of the bird and therefore turning the bird from a green or a blue to a clear yellow or white with that red eye effect. The Lacewing variety is similar in appearance to that of the Lutino and Albino as they have a clear body colour, yellow or white. But the marking on cheeks, back of head, neck, wings and tail is of cinnamon brown. The cheek patches are of pale violet instead of silvery white in the Ino variety and they have well defined cinnamon brown throat spots. They have fleshy pink feet and the cocks also have a fleshy pink cere. Eyes are the same as the Inos; red with a white iris ring.

The Lacewing variety has been bred since 1948. It was recorded that hens appeared in a Lutino stud from a Light Green cock of unknown history paired to a Lutino hen. It seems that these 'badly' marked Lutinos and their normal brothers were disposed of. The late Cyril Rogers was able to trace and obtain one of these normal offspring cocks and after mating to a number of normal hens the Lacewing variety was established. Some of those Lacewings were exported to various parts of the World including South Africa where it was further established. Cyril exhibited the first Lacewing at the 1951 National Exhibition and in late 1968 the Budgerigar Society standardised the variety. The interest in this variety was revived when, on a judging visit, the late Alf Ormerod and Brian Byles brought back examples of this variety from South Africa and bred them with a degree of success. The South African strain seemed to have much deeper and clearer markings and hence the appeal in them was greater.

I obtained my initial Lacewing in 1977 from the Byles strain and was reasonably successful with them prior to my giving up bird keeping in 1979 for 3 years. In 1983 I obtained a quality pair from the late Alf Ormerod which started me back with Lacewings. The variety is sex-linked, like the Ino, and therefore hens cannot be split for Lacewing while cocks can. Hens, because of the sex-linked recessive inheritance genetic theory, can only be either visual Lacewing or non-Lacewing.

The possible pairings with this variety when paired to non-Lacewings (let us use the word "normal" for simplicity) are:

1 Lacewing cock x Lacewing Hen 50% Lacewing cocks

50% Lacewing hens

2 Lacewing cock x normal hen 50% normal/Lacewing cocks

50% Lacewing hens

3 Normal cock x Lacewing hen 50% normal/Lacewing cocks

50% normal hens

4 Normal/Lacewing cock x Lacewing hen 25% Lacewing cocks

25% normal/Lacewing cocks

25% Lacewing hens

25% normal hens

5 Normal/Lacewing cock x normal hen 25% normal cocks

25% normal/Lacewing cocks

25% Lacewing hens

25% normal hens

This way we can easily find out what is the best pairing to produce the Lacewing variety in numbers. It is also of importance to produce the variety to an exhibition standard regarding the size, shape and deportment of an exhibition Budgerigar combined with the deep body colour contrast and clarity and depth of the wing marking. A combination that is not easily achieved but neither it is impossible.

The Amos & Thumwood partnership achieved great heights with a Lacewing Yellow cock two years ago when they won best in show at a championship show. Like the Ino, the suffusion of the green or blue in the body colour is an undesirable fault. One way of ensuring that this suffusion does not occur is the use of the grey factor birds (Greys and Grey Greens). However, this has the undesirable effect of dulling the body colour if continuously used.

The aim is to produce Lacewings with deep buttercup yellow and the use of dark factor birds as breeding partners will go a long way towards achieving that. Another area to consider is the deep cinnamon brown marking on the wings, mantle etc. There are two schools of thoughts on how to achieve that.

One school of thought encourages the use of Cinnamon birds as partners while the other encourages the use of normals. It can be said that the Cinnamon will dilute the body colour including the wing marking. It is quite apparent that producing a quality Lacewing with the correct marking is not an easy task and here lies the challenge.

My preference is to outcross Lacewings to normals only and without introducing other varieties into the equation. Having said that, there has been scientific evidence, through the work of Dr. Trevor Daniel in the early 1980's, stating that the Lacewing is in fact a Cinnamon Ino. He went about proving his theory by mating an Ino to a Cinnamon and cross mating youngsters, which eventually resulted in him producing a Lacewing. This is due to the "crossover" of the genes because the cinnamon gene and the Ino gene are located very close to each other on the chromosome. However, many Lacewing enthusiasts have disagreed with this theory believing that the Lacewing is a mutation in its own right. Regardless of what theory one would like to accept the Lacewing is a beautiful variety that has its own place on the show bench.

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Copyright Ghalib Al-Nasser 2000 all rights reserved.