3 Chapter 3

Note:  The name of the mutation is in bold type, and the name most commonly used in the US. In parenthesis ( ) will be the following information: First, there will be the gene name, and then past or other names that might be used. Example: Lutino (Ino, Albino, Moonbeam, Primrose, Yellows)

Normal Grey

(Also referred to as Wild type or Normal)


Common Abbreviation: N


Origin: Native of Australia. The first captive breeding of cockatiels was in France in the 1850’s. The last cockatiels were imported to the US from Australia was 1959.

The normal color of a wild cockatiel is dark grey, bordering on a deep charcoal color, almost black. Cocks can appear darker than hens and as they mature, develop a yellow facial mask and portion of yellow to the base of the crest. Dark pigments are referred to as melanin and the yellow as lipochrome and orange as psittacin.

Hens will also have the orange cheek patch and slight yellow on the face, edging the beak, around the eyes, and a dot on the forehead, but it is slightly subdued by the grey and gives the facial coloration a drab look.

Both sexes will have the white wing bar on the side of the wing. There is great variety in depth of color from bird to bird. Some normal cockatiels will have a lot of lipochrome (yellow) visually showing, while others will have a subdued pale yellow. Sometimes the splits that the cock carries can affect the depth of color to the facial mask and/or body plumage. For example, I have noticed when split to Cinnamon the grey is lighter, and when split to Lutino it is darker.

When breeding it is desirable to work with birds that visually show a deeper yellow. Large, round, deep orange cheek patches are an asset, especially when cross breeding to the facial variation mutations.

Because of extensive mutation breeding, the Normal Grey with no splits is now the rarest of all the cockatiels in the United States.

In the wild, the Normal is in its purest form. There are no mutant genes present to alter the color or pattern from the original genes. This is very important in a breeding program because when pairing a Normal with a mutation the unaltered genes help to strengthen and improve on health, size and vigor of other mutations. Considering that the last pure Normals came into the US in 1959, and have since been paired with other mutations, a breeder might want to seriously consider working with the Normal to breed out (over a few generations) all other mutations so that you have a bird that carries no altered genes.

Some splits to another mutation are visually apparent, whereas others are less subtle. Breeding out splits can take time. It is easier to do with a Normal hen than a cock. The reason why is because a hen can not be split to sex-linked mutations, therefore a portion of the potential splits are off the table. But, she can be split to recessive mutations. Some of these splits can be visually apparent, and others are not. When in doubt, always test breed to a visual, to determine if the hen is split or not. A cock can be split to both recessive and sex-linked mutations, so it can take longer to breed the splits from the bird. When pairing a Normal with a mutation all the offspring of both sexes will be split if it is a recessive mutation. Only the cocks will be split if it is a sex-linked mutation. The splits that can be paired back to a visual mutation to improve the next generation. Shown below are several illustrations that show some areas to look at on a bird to determine if it is carrying splits.

If you have no background on the birds, carefully studying the facial masks, eye colors, beak and feet color, and body plumage can give clues to the splits to other mutations the bird may have. Section 3, will also show some identifying marks to help determine splits.


COCKATIEL MUTATIONS, A Bounty of Color Copyright © by srtiels. All Rights Reserved.


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