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Thread: Mystery Genetics: Rainbows Explained (and how to breed them)

  1. #1
    Brand New Egg Boonze's Avatar
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    Arrow Mystery Genetics: Rainbows Explained (and how to breed them)

    Hi guys. I thought I'd put this here in case anyone is confused on how to breed a basic rainbow budgie - that is, a bird such as this:

    And who's mother was this:

    The factors in producing a nice looking rainbow:
    - Opaline
    - Blue
    - Violet factor (optional but visually stunning)
    - Yellowface or Goldenface

    - Either spangle or clearwing - generally clearwing has been held to be the 'proper' marking mutation for rainbows but as you can see spangles work fine too.

    Opaline is sex-linked - meaning if a hen has even one copy of the gene, it will always visually show, but if a cock only has one copy, it will be 'hidden' (he will pass it on to his female offspring). A cock can only be visually opaline if he has two copies of the gene.

    A good method of getting rainbows is to start off with a female who is blue series, opaline and preferably spangle (quite common to see around).

    The male could be a yellowface blue spangle (also quite common).

    This will guarantee you basic rainbows (ie non-clearwings). The benefit to this method (using opaline as a sex-linked trait from one parent only) means you can straight away identify who are female and who are male as soon as the babies are feathered - only females will have the opaline, and the males will be split for it (carry it genetically).

    The males are still useful though - you can then use them to breed to a similar female to the mother and get male and female rainbows. While breeding rainbows there is no guarantee that you will get a WHOLE clutch of rainbows, but you should definitely get one or two.

    This male now:

    That's a basic method on how to breed 'spangle-and-opaline' rainbows. Clearwing is a bit more tricky.

    Now he's all grown up and ready to breed. He also happens to be split clearwing, which will work well when paired with this hen (who is a SF violet clearwing):

    Will have a 12.5% chance of producing (all blue series - to save me typing it, and where GF = goldenface):

    - GF clearwing / opaline
    - GF blue / clearwing opaline
    - GF spangle / clearwing opaline
    - GF clearwing SF violet / opaline
    - GF clearwing violet spangle / opaline
    - GF violet spangle / clearwing opaline

    - GF clearwing opaline
    - GF opaline / clearwing
    - GF clearwing spangle opaline
    - GF spangle opaline / clearwing
    - GF clearwing violet opaline
    - GF violet opaline / clearwing
    - GF clearwing violet spangle opaline
    - GF violet spangle opaline / clearwing

    From those, I have highlighted those that are the MOST rainbow out of the males - and thus have the best potential to breed rainbow in their next generation.

    Females always win when it comes to who is the best rainbow model as they're just that much easier to breed opaline into!

    I could also make another pair up (kind of cheating since one is already a rainbow, but if you're only looking to increase numbers, you can ensure you don't lose the traits you're after by breeding to a useless bird, like one with dominant factors that mask the recessives)

    With these two birds:

    Male - Double factor violet goldenface opaline clearwing / ino (unfortunately)
    Female - the Single factor violet clearwing from above

    Where GF = Goldenface, DF = double-factor and SF = single factor

    They have a 25% chance of producing (all blue series, again):

    - GF clearwing DF violet / opaline
    - GF clearwing SF violet / opaline
    - GF clearwing DF violet / ino-opaline
    - GF clearwing SF violet / ino-opaline

    - GF clearwing DF violet ino opaline*
    - GF clearwing SF violet ino opaline*
    - GF clearwing DF violet opaline
    - GF clearwing SF violet opaline

    This is one pairing where literally every bird presents as a rainbow (even if some of them are masked by ino) - best case scenario, but you'll either have to work up to it or get lucky at the sales table. Lots of hobby breeders don't know what they're really selling though, which means a bargain could be had!

    * DO NOT SELL. These are the hidden 'diamond-in-the-rough' deals - I suspect that's similar to what one of my yellowface ino hen was masking, but because she was 'plain' her breeder sold her. They are invaluable to breeding rainbows, though they do pass the ino on to some female chicks.

    For example if you paired one of those 'ino' chicks with even a simple blue clearwing male, you'd get half ino masking clearwing etc, and half visual clearwings. They're very useful, if not very pretty!

    Of course it's always easier if you already have rainbows available to breed from - sometimes you can find them in the paper, or from a hobby breeder,or even a friend - but if you don't, then you'll have to work from scratch - it'll take a few generations but it can be done.

    I started with (for the mother of the male bird above):

    - Green spangle male
    - Goldenface Cobalt opaline female

    a green spangle male chick was produced from that pairing, which due to the laws of sex-linked recessive and normal recessive genes, I already knew was split to blue and opaline.

    Another pair I had going at the time was:
    - Clearwing mauve male split opaline (here):

    - Yellowface albino female split clearwing (the hen that was masking)- at the time I didn't know she was split clearwing, nor that he was split opaline as this was their first clutch.

    They produced a rainbow right off the bat - lucky!
    That is the hen you see at the top.

    In my experience it is MUCH easier to start off with a pair of clearwings - even 'basic' clearwings will do - but do not breed them together.
    Save one for later breedings with the resulting offspring to breed the clearwing gene in once you've got all your other mutations sorted (yellowface, blue, opaline). Then you don't have to worry about in-breeding if that's not your cup of tea, and you still have some genetics to mix in later on.

    If you can't get your hands on clearwings, spangle-opalines are your best bet, even if you have to introduce yellowface later down the line. Yellowface has a bad habit of clinging, though that can be beneficial (such as if you're after rainbows).

    Any questions just ask!

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  2. #2
    Tailfeather boomer girl's Avatar
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    Oct 2005
    Colfax, California
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    Re: Mystery Genetics: Rainbows Explained (and how to breed them)

    The rainbow baby is amazing!! It is the prettiest bird I have ever seen. Your birds are always so beautiful and a person would be lucky to be able to own one of them.

    The information you shared here is awesome for another breeder to use. Thanks for sharing it and your lovely birds with us.
    Fly Free Boomer, we will forever love you.

  3. #3
    My baby Baylee I <3 U!! Baby ChesterHannah2010's Avatar
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    Dec 2010
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    Re: Mystery Genetics: Rainbows Explained (and how to breed them)

    What mutation IS my budgie? i Think he is spangle..
    Baylee SF Violet D Turquoise female white faced lovebird
    Dylan[color="darkolivegreen"] Skyblue DF Yellowface 1 Greywing male budgie
    RIP Kiwi my baby boy i love You! Fligh high!

    A lovebird has the soul of a larger parrot in a small body.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    USA Midwest
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    Re: Mystery Genetics: Rainbows Explained (and how to breed them)

    I feel that Boonze would be the best person to answer your question concerning mutation! She is very knowledgeable and educated on mutations!

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