4 Chapter 4


(Ino, Albino, Moonbeam, Primrose, Yellows)

Sex-linked (Recessive)

Common Abbreviations: L, Lut

Origin: Lutino is the second established mutation. Lutino first appeared in the aviaries of Mr. Cliff Barringer of Miami FL, USA in 1958. Mrs. Moon then successfully established the mutation.

In earlier reference books, dating from the late 70’s the Lutino was incorrectly referred to as Albino. The description for these birds were that they appeared to be white but retain the yellow mask, orange check patches, and have red eyes. The references to the Lutino being white are misleading because if a person looks carefully there is the presence of lipochrome (yellow pigments) in varying degrees. This can vary from a subtle pale yellow to a deep primrose yellow. The Lutino mutation lacks (suppresses) the melanin pigment, which enables the black, brown, grey colors. As a result, the birds coloration can visually range from yellow to a cream white with orange cheek-patches. Some yellow will be present in the crest and sides of the face, and tail. The beak, feet and toenails are flesh colored.

A Lutino can be identified as it hatches. The eyes will appear a pink color. Melanin is completely suppressed to the eye when the lutino is young.

As the lutino matures, some melanin will darken the red eyes so that they appear dark. Shining a flashlight indirectly to the eye will reveal the pupil and iris colors, which will be a red to ruby color.  Cinnamon chicks will also hatch out with a plum red eye, but the edging is a dark grey.

If the bird does not reflect red in both the iris and pupil then it may be a clear Pied. A clear Pied visually looks the same as a Lutino, with the exception of eye color.

Balding is the result of genetic flaw that showed up when the Lutino mutation was established, and is a recessive fault. Selective breeding helps to eliminate this fault.

Ideally, when working with Lutino you would prefer a Lutino that has no balding behind the crest. If none are available, then second choice would be a Lutino with slight balding, with a perfect topline (conformation) and no other visual faults. Pair this bird with a Normal or Pied that is not split to Lutino. Hold back the males, and when mature, pair them with a Normal or Pied. The daughters will be visual Lutino with no balding. The daughters can be paired with cocks that are split to Lutino, to produce Lutino of both sexes. It may take several generations of selective breeding to eliminate balding. Since this is a recessive fault even with careful and selective pairings thin head feathering or balding may occasionally appear.

Please note:  Balding can happen with any mutation. There does not have to have Lutino in the background for this to occur.

The most common practice for most inexperienced breeder is to pair two birds of the same mutation together, meaning ‘like to like’ pairings. Repeated generations of this practice results in birds with poorer feather quality, especially behind the crest. Rarely are any of the birds related, and they may have been bought from different sources, but when paired ‘like to like’ to their dismay up pops a bald spot and …”Hey, what is going on?”

The reason why this happens is that a novice breeder, or even an experienced one, figures: “Ok, I have two Cinnamons (or Pied, or Whiteface, etc.) paired together I know what they will produce”. Or we will pair two pretty birds together hoping for a variety of colors, and are disappointed when we see plain colored grey babies in the nest. If we do not understand genetics, when the odd baby pops up, we may not know it is because the cock was also split to another color. We then try to find a mate that is the same color because we feel we have the control of what the pair will give us. In not knowing genetics and several generations of visual to visual (‘Like to Like’ or same mutation pairings) faults such as balding, a higher mortality rate in the nestbox occurs, and smaller cockatiels, which keeps the pet grade cockatiel at an average of 75-85 grams in weight.

Some of the rarer mutations such as Fallow, Recessive and Dominant Silver, and Emerald are prone to thinner feathering to the head feathers. When working Pearl out of these mutations the head feathering improves.

When breeding Lutino, it is best to stay away from cross breeding to Pearl. Pearl can bring back the bald spot in lines that have had past histories of good head feathering. Pied is the best to pair with Lutino.

Inspect the babies that are pin feathering in the nest. Hold back the ones that have dense pinfeathers covering all the bare patches behind the crest. Use these birds to pair with Lutino. If you study the pinfeathering on the head of a lutino baby you will notice that there is still a bald section. It is the pin feathers that grow in angled towards the bald area that serve to cover up this area once feathered.

Listed below are a few common variations of the lutino mutation.

Lutino Pearl (LP) first appeared late 1970 and is a double mutation, meaning the bird visually shows two mutations, Lutino and Pearl. Visually the base color of the bird will be a pale cream color, with a delicate yellow scalloping covering the entire back. The tail will be a deep yellow with yellow barring. The cheek patch is orange.

Adult Lutino Pearl cocks will exhibit beige to lavender appearing wash after their first molt. This slight wash is due to partially suppressed melanin. The eyes will darken as the bird matures, to a deep red color. From a distance, the eyes look like a dark eyed bird.

Lutino Pearl Pied (LPpD) first appeared in the early 1980’s and is a triple mutation that visually shows Lutino, combined with Pearl and Pied patterns. Visually the base color of the bird will be a soft cream color, with a delicate yellow scalloping covering the entire back. The tail will be a deep yellow with yellow barring and some clear yellow feathers. Adult lutino Pearl Pied cocks will exhibit a pale beige to lavender appearing wash to their back after their first molt. This slight wash is due to partially suppressed melanin. The eyes will be a light red very similar to a lutino pied. Beak and feet are a pale flesh tone, and the cheek patch is orange.


Lutino Pied (LpD) first appeared in the early 1980’s and is a double mutation, meaning the bird visually shows two mutations, Lutino and Pied. Visually a Lutino Pied will have an overall softy buttery yellow color to the plumage. It is very easy to tell if a lutino is also Pied once they are fully feathered. Look at the wing flights. If there are any flight feathers that are clear (meaning a solid yellow), with no spots/dots, these are Pied feathers. Normal Lutino feathers, when young, will have yellow spots/dots against a cream colored flight. If only a few wing flights are clear then the bird is lightly Pied, and if 50% or more of the wing flights are clear it is a heavy Pied. The same applies to the tail feathers, clear feathers are Pied feathers and barred feathers are non-Pied feathers. Beak and feet are a pale flesh tone, and the cheek patch is orange. This Lutino variation is less prone to balding, because Pied contributes to the feathering to the head and crest.

Lutino Pied eyes are a paler, bright jelly bean pink color in comparison to other Lutino variations, and do not darken as they get older. Pied and/or Whiteface Pied splits will affect eye color with any of the Lutino variations. Normal Lutino eyes will darken as the bird matures, due to a slight infusion of melanin. When split to Pied this slight infusion of melanin will contribute to amber, grey-blue to blue-white eye color.

Split to Pied has been noted to alter the Lutino eye color as the bird matures. A normal Lutino eye lacks the melanin pigment therefore the red is a result of the light reflecting off the veins inside the eye. When melanin partially expresses itself then the eyes will darken to a ruby color. If the lutino is split to Pied, it has been theorized that lipochrome will also be present to contribute to an amber, blue/white eye color.

Many times those inexperienced with the various mutations will misidentify a Pied as a Lutino or Lutino Pied. The person will see the yellow and instantly think it is a Lutino, and if marked, such as with Cinnamon and Pearl, then misidentify the bird as a Lutino Cinnamon Pearl. The difference between the two mutations is that a lutino will not have any dark feathers to the body plumage. If it does then it is a Pied variation.

Lutino Cinnamon, LC or Cinnamon Lutino, CL (outside the US Lutino Cinnamon may also be referred to as Lacewing) first appeared in the mid 1980’s, Lutino Cinnamon is a double mutation, meaning the bird visually shows two mutations, Lutino and Cinnamon. When young the Lutino hens will exhibit a dilute Cinnamon coloration to the body plumage (if also pearl), wing flights and tail feathers.

With cocks, the Lutino Cinnamon coloration will show up after the first molt. Prior to the first molt the cocks will visually look like a cream/white colored Lutino. A Lutino Cinnamon can be selectively bred to deepen the Cinnamon tone to the back, flight feathers and tail, and increase the yellow suffusion to the face and chest area of the bird. When the depth of color is increased it also makes this mutation hard to visually distinguish from a Fallow. The only visual difference may be looking at the eyes. A Fallows eye color will always be a pale jelly-bean pink, whereas the Lutino eyes are darker red, and the color deepens to wine or ruby color as they go through their first molt.


Whiteface Lutino (WFL) is a combination color meaning the bird visually Lutino and Whiteface, it is not a mutation. This variation was first bred in the mid to late 1980’s. The ‘term’ Albino is acceptable to describe the Whiteface Lutino. Visually this variation is a solid white bird with red eyes, pale flesh colored beak and feet, with no orange or yellow pigments visible. A Whiteface Clear Pied can be mistaken for a Whiteface lutino. Like with the lutino, check the eye color with indirect light to it.



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


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