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Brian Sweeting
Best YB Club Show 2004


By Ghalib Al-Nasser

Photos by Terry A Tuxford

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Les & Pat Martin
Best Pied in Show at the 2002 SRVOS

BUDGERIGARS with body colour variegation have always fascinated budgerigar fanciers all over the World. The 1930s was the boom for new mutations and among those that first appeared and became established with body colour variegation were the Danish Recessive Pieds in 1932. This variety did not see its way to the shores of the British Isles till 1948 when the late Cyril Rogers brought examples of them from the late Herr C. af Eneljelm who at the time was Curator of Helsinki Zoological Gardens in Finland. However, the first actual pied birds to come to Great Britain as a breeding strain were the Continental Clearflighted, which were initially developed in Belgium by Mon. M. R. Raemaker in 1940. Specimens of this variety arrived in England soon after the end of World War II. In the early 1950s another variegated pied mutation was established in Holland and brought to England, this was the Dutch Pied.

Their History

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G & P Norris S&R 2001

It was not until 1957/8 that a further pied mutation was brought to England and purchased from a bird shop in Bristol by A. M. Cooper of Caerleon, South Wales who then established them as a new strain of pieds in Great Britain. This new variegated mutation was brought in from Australia and was called the Australian Dominant Banded Pied due to the band of about inch that cut across the middle of the body just above the thighs. They are now known simply as Dominant Pieds due to their breeding pattern. The Cooper strain originated from two pieds that he bought from the bird shop when the import ban was lifted; a Pied Grey and a Pied Green. They were exhibited for the first time at the 1958 National Cage & Aviary Birds Exhibition and aroused considerable interest among budgerigar fanciers of the day. That early strain to be exhibited were all of the banded type.

This new mutation to the British Isles was established as far back as 1933 in aviaries of some prominent fanciers in both Sydney and Melbourne but it was Keith Ings of Sydney who established this banded pied variety in 1935. He bought a pied bird, which was exhibited at the Royal Zoological Society show in Sydney, and its parents (a normal Skyblue cock and an Olive Green hen). This pied bird was described as being a green bird with half of its wings being yellow and a bar of yellow across the body. It is believed that that trio of birds are the ancestors of this wonderful strain of Dominant Pieds that we have today. This pied bird must have been a Dark Green split for blue from the pedigree of its parents.

It was this latest variegated variety to arrive to Britain that became the most popular of the pied varieties mainly due to its dominant breeding inheritance and the ease of upgrading them to a high exhibition standard.

Their Coloration

As I mentioned above, the initial mutation had a solid body colour (either green or blue) with a band of either yellow (green series) or white (blue series) cutting across the body. The wings having irregular patches of yellow or white with the primary wing flights being yellow or white depending on the body colour. The primary tail feathers also being yellow or white. The initial strain had the head patch and all the six throat spots. Their eyes were black with the white iris ring. The colour of the cere was blue and the cheek patches were violet (or grey in grey factor birds). They were a beauty to look at and I was fortunate enough to buy one (Violet Banded Pied cock) from a pet breeder in 1972 but was unable to breed with it.

Unfortunately Mr. Cooper paired his initial stock of those banded pieds to all sort of varieties such as Fallows, Opalines, Cinnamons, Lacewings, Lutinos, Albinos, Recessive Pieds, Yellows, Whites and Greywings and before long the beauty of that banded pied was destroyed. Other breeders also crossed them with the Continental Clearflighted as well.

Those outcrosses, especially to Recessive Pieds, used in the early days did not result in producing more pieds in the nest, as their breeding pattern was well established beforehand, but eventually resulted in pieds being produced of random body and wing coloration. It was thought in those early days that by pairing two pied varieties (the Banded Pied to the Recessive Pied) it would result in more pieds in the nest, but that did not happen because of the two different breeding patterns; consequently the downside was great.

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Les & Pat Martin

What we have today across the World are Dominant Pieds with missing throat spots, random body and wing colouration, missing head patches, odd dark flight and tail feathers, broken cheek patches and random cere colour. And as with many of the specialist varieties we, the breeders, have only got ourselves to blame for destroying the initial characteristics and the beauty of the variety.

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Phil Reaney

Breeding with Dominant Pieds

It was well established from the outset that there is a dominant gene controlling the production of this pied variety and because of this dominant gene it will be present in either a single factor (sf) or double factor (df) but determination of which is only possible by trial pairing to a non pied. Again because of its dominant character no normal looking bird can be split for this variety.

Following Mendel’s Laws of Genetics the various rules that govern the inheritance of the Dominant Pied character irrespective of the actual colour or sex are:

Pairing Expectation
Dominant pied (sf) x Normal 50% Dominant pied (sf) + 50% Normals
Dominant pied (df) x Normal 100% Dominant pied (sf)
Dominant pied (sf) x Dominant pied (sf) 50% Dominant pied (sf) + 25% Dominant pied (df) + 25% Normals
Dominant pied (sf) x Dominant pied (df) 50% Dominant pied (sf) + 50% Dominant pied (df)
Dominant pied (df) x Dominant pied (df) 100% Dominant pied (df)

Fanciers will need to understand that the use of the terminology of "Normal" above is in reference to budgerigars without the dominant pied characteristics and the percentages above is not that of one or two nests but is calculated from 100 offspring from similar pairings.

Yet there are no two dominant pieds that look alike. With this bird there are two, four or six factors (modifiers) which each give a different visual appearance. The distribution of its pattern markings is affected by modifying agents and also some influence is attributed to the distant cross pairings with Danish Recessive Pieds and Continental Clearflighted.

Most exhibiting fanciers cross their Dominant Pieds to non-pieds whether they are normals, opalines or cinnamons with occasional crossing to yellowfaces.

Unlike breeders of the Spangle variety breeding a double factor Dominant Pied is not a necessity. Most double factor dominant pieds will have some markings on the body and wings although to a lesser degree than the single factors, but it is not a rule to distinguish them as double factor dominant pieds. There have been many single factor dominant pieds that are very lightly marked. The only way to distinguish them is by test mating.

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G & P Norris

Judging this variety

The Budgerigar Society has laid down a Colour Standard for the variety including Scale of Points and Guidelines for Judges and Exhibitors. For example the variety requires six spots like most varieties. The cheek patches should be violet (apart from grey factor birds where they will be grey) and the general body colour of maximum 50% ratio of solid body colour to clear colour. The head patch is optional and a dark flight or tail feather is acceptable (in other countries’ Colour Standards this will be treated as a fault). The eyes should be black with a white iris. The colour of the cere can be a mix of blue, fleshy pink or a mixture of both in cocks (brown in hens) while the feet and legs can be blue/grey mottled, fleshy pink or a mixture of both.

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C Gilbert

The Scale of Points for all varieties lean towards the budgerigar with a total of 60 points for size including head and 40 points for colour and variety markings. The Guidelines state that Dominant Pieds with clear body colour, an unbroken body colour, all clear wings and spillage of the mask colour around the neck and back of head and the absence of one or more spots should all be penalised. Also an odd eyed pied (a pied with one eye solid colour and the other eye with a white iris) should be exhibited in the Dominant Pied class and be penalised accordingly.

How often have we seen Dominant Pieds winning challenge certificates or major/section specials with some of the faults outlined above for which they should have been penalised. I suppose judges, and I am no exception, will always hide behind the fact that we go for the budgie first because of this 60/40 points ratio.

I will always remember one dilemma that I faced in my second judging engagement after passing my B.S. judging test in 1988. It was at the 1989 South Essex BS championship show when I was invited to judge and one of the colours that were allocated to me was the Dominant Pieds. In those days these championship shows were of 1000 bird benched and there were 5 other judges senior to me invited as well.

In most cases one may expect to find the CC winner for most colours from the champion adult cock class and this what I looked for when I judged that class first. To my surprise neither the adult cock or hen class winners were of significant value. When the champion cock young bird class came before me I faced my dilemma. The class again was average apart from one, which was outstanding for its time. It was the easy winner for the class but the bird had too much yellow on the body, clear wings and missing spots.

As a new judge I went and consulted two of my fellow judges and they came to have a look at the class. Their advice was that the bird was far ahead of the others in that class and despite its faults it should win the class. I took their advice and placed it first but by doing so I would face the same dilemma later on. I carried on judging the remainder of the classes and hoped that I would find a class winner near enough in quality without faults. You will have guessed by now that when the best of colour line up of all class winners came before me this bird was still the best. Further advice from two other judges was the same and eventually this bird won the red and blue colour dots and went on to win best young bird in show for Gren & Pat Norris (Norris & Baldry then).

That bird, throughout the show season, became a marked bird and judges either gave it a first and went all the way to give it the challenge certificate or took the safe approach and placed it second in the class and the matter ended then. That bird went on to win the challenge certificate at the B.S. club show as well in that year. Which judges were right in their placing of that bird and which were wrong? This discussion will never end, but food for thought is that we never judge a normal green or blue with similar faults and give them specials.

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Brian Sweeting

The Club

The variety is very popular among breeders and is always winning major and section specials at championship shows but as yet unfortunately it has never won the supreme award at the B.S. Club Show. It came close when Muir & Crossman won the best any age award at the 1978 show and Brian Sweeting won the young bird award at the 2004 show. The late Eric Lane won the National with a Dominant Pied Grey in the early 1980s.

The Variegated Budgerigar Club, founded in 1969, caters for all pied varieties and issues 2 magazines a year and a Year Book. Their much sought after patronage is awarded to most shows that apply for it. They hold their young stock show in conjunction with the Specialist & Rare Variety Show and their club show is held in conjunction with the B.S. Club Show and at each show there is an array of trophies for members to win. They have a 60 page Handbook with coloured covers for anyone to purchase written by the author so if you breed Dominant Pieds then joining the VBC and purchasing the Handbook is a must for you. For further information about the club contact the secretary Ian Fielding (16 Pilkington Road, Southport, Merseyside PR8 6PD. Tel: 01704 548327).

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Copyright Ghalib Al-Nasser 2005 all rights reserved.