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Rare Budgerigar Varieties - The Greywing
by Ghalib Al-Nasser

(Photo left Greywing Grey Green cock. Best Rare in Show for G & J Al-Nasser at the 1994 Specialist & Rare Variety Open Show. Photo right Greywing Grey cock, son of the Greywing Grey Green.)

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"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder". This applies to any Budgerigar variety and without a doubt the Greywing variety has got that certain appeal to many Budgerigar breeders. As a breeder of this variety I found the challenge to breed a good specimen as rewarding as breeding a good Light Green or a Skyblue.

The first Greywings were established in around 1919 in Europe and were of the green series. They were initially called Apple Green or Jade. But when the Greywing of the blue series was established, initially in Austria in 1927 and then afterwards in the UK in 1928, the Colour Committee of the Budgerigar Society grouped them together and gave them the name "Greywings" in 1929.

It is easy to recognise the variety when viewing it in daylight by the grey marking on the bird in comparison to that of the black on the normal varieties. By comparing a Greywing Light Green to a normal Light Green the spots, undulations at the back of the head, markings on the wings and primary wing flights are all of a grey colour instead of black in the normal varieties. The cheek patches are of light violet and the body colour is diluted by 50% of the normal body colour. Also the colour of the tail is grey with a bluish tinge instead of dark blue in the normal varieties.

At times fanciers find it difficult to distinguish between the Dilutes (Yellows and Whites) and the Greywings, especially if both varieties are of the grey factor (Greys and Grey Greens). Here a closer look at the body colour and wing marking of the Grey Yellow and Grey White when compared to Greywing Grey Green and Greywing Grey is that the body colour of the former is that much further diluted than the latter. The tail feathers of the Dilutes are off white to pale grey while those of the Greywing Grey and Grey Green are grey. Without a doubt Greywings are more appealing on dark factor birds such as Dark Greens and Cobalts.

It was found that a recessive gene controls the Greywing when mated to normal varieties. So when a Greywing is mated to a normal all the young will be normal but carrying the Greywing gene in a hidden (split) form; Normal/Greywing. If one of these splits is mated back to a Greywing then&nbp;50% of the young will be split for Greywing and the other 50% will be visual Greywings. Mating two Greywings together will result in all the young being Greywings. Because of the recessive gene it does not matter much which sex is the visual Greywing as both cocks and hens can be mated and produced according to the above three types of mating. Also because of that recessive gene, a bird can be carrying the Greywing factor in a hidden form for many generations.

This is why on occasions a Greywing can pop up in a nest of normal parents in a stud that does not carry this mutation and the fancier is at a loss as to how the Greywing appeared. Following the Mendal Theory of Inheritance, pairing two normals that are split for Greywing will result in 25% of the young being Greywings. Another 50% will be normal/Greywing and the remainder 25% being pure Normal. Suddenly the Greywing factor has been established in this stud.

Early breeders established, using Laws of Genetics, that although the variety is recessive to the normal, it is dominant to the Dilutes (Yellows and Whites), the same as the Clearwings (Yellow-wings and Whitewings) are dominant to the Dilutes, even though all the three varieties are recessive. In fact all the three varieties are separate mutations of the same gene and form what is known as a multiple allelomorph.

If a Greywing is paired to a Dilute all the chicks will be Greywings but split for Dilutes. The same will apply if a Clearwing is paired to a Dilute. But something quite unusual happens when pairing a Greywing to a Clearwing. Here the resulting young will posses the combination of both varieties in one bird and are called "full bodied colour Greywings". This means that they have the full body colour of the Clearwing variety with the Greywing marking; quite an unusual and beautiful coloration. These full-bodied colour Greywings are split for Clearwing but cannot be split for Dilutes.

If a full-bodied colour Greywing is paired to a Dilute then the results will be 50% Greywings and 50% Clearwings all split for Dilutes. However, if a full bodied colour Greywing is paired to either a Greywing or a Clearwing then the results will be 50% full bodied colour Greywings and 50% Greywings (or Clearwings).

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Copyright Ghalib Al-Nasser 2000 all rights reserved.