Skyblue x Skyblue is an orthodox and good mating providing both birds of the pair are large, typical and well marked. With specimens of this quality one can make straight pairings of Skyblue to Skyblue for several generations, if so desired. Therefore, it will be seen that the number of Skyblue x Skyblue pairs in an establishment will be governed by the general merit of the Skyblues in the stud. Skyblues which are somewhat deficient in size, lacking in fullness of body or at all weak in head, even though not deserving of being described as inferior Budgerigars, should be mated to a good big Light Green/Blue excelling in those points in which the Skyblue is rather deficient.

If, in a stud, the continuous mating of Skyblue to Skyblue season after season eventually leads to the production of smaller birds rather lacking in substance, crosses to other colours must be made. Hence I am convinced that if we are to improve even if we are to maintain colour and size in Blues we must at intervals cross our Skyblues with birds of other colour varieties, of which very good Light Greens/blue can, on the whole, prove to be the most beneficial though not more so than Opalines, which have given us splendid results. By employing the Light Green/blue in the manner described one need not interfere with an in-breeding plan, because by simple control an owner's Light Green/blue can be related to his Skyblues, as can other colours to which the Skyblues are mated. Many good breeders wishing to lay the foundation of a good strain of Skyblues have made their own Light Greens/blues in the first place. Not being able to purchase a suitable Light Green/blue they have obtained a high class Light Green and mated it to one of their best Skyblues. All the youngsters from such a pair are Light Greens/blue and no Skyblues will be bred in this line until the second year; but events may prove the time was not wasted.

When selecting a Light Green/blue for Skyblue breeding it is always advisable to ensure that its Skyblue parent was satisfactory as to size, colour and shape. It is also necessary, of course, for the Light Green parent to have been a good one. Some of the best Skyblues ever bred have come from Light Green/blue x Skyblue. I have seen some magnificent Skyblues which have been bred from Dark Green/blue x Skyblue, and I cannot do other than express approval of this cross, which would no doubt be used more often if there were more suitable Dark Greens/blue available. Type I Dark Greens/blue are the most useful for Skyblue production because they give us a higher Skyblue expectation than when a Type II is employed.

Cobalt x Cobalt on the average produces 25 per cent, Skyblues, and these are often very good in colour though frequently inferior in size to the Cobalts in the same nest. I do not, however, favour the mating of a Cobalt to a Cobalt for reasons which I shall give later. Theoretically one might form the opinion that Skyblues so bred might show that Cobalt shading which is a minor fault but this does not always follow. Nevertheless, having got your Skyblue from Cobalt x Cobalt it is inadvisable to mate that bird to a Cobalt if Skyblues are your objective. It is far better to put it to a really good Skyblue, a Light Green/blue or a Dark Green/blue. The same remarks apply to Skyblues bred from Cobalt x Skyblue.

With reference to Cobalt x Skyblue, theoretically one may assume that there is a risk here of producing Cobalts of the blue Cobalt shade, and Blues showing a trace of Cobalt, but the fact is that we and others have bred excellent coloured Blues and rich coloured Cobalts from this cross but always when the Cobalt has come from Cobalts of the correct shade and likewise the Skyblue ancestors of the Skyblue used have been desirable in colour. Never mate Cobalt to Cobalt unless the requirement just described is fulfilled, and never use this cross unless the two birds are entirely suitable for each other in so far as type is concerned; in fact, when we mate our birds in the first place we always consider whether or not they are a perfect fit as regards size and type, because shape is with me the first consideration in a Budgerigar.

The Cobalt is patent proof of my statement that there is no best method of breeding the majority of colour varieties in which Budgerigars are to be seen, and just as there are so many different shades of Cobalt so there are so many systems of producing them. The maintenance of colour simul- taneously with the retention of good size and type in this variety is exceed- ingly difficult and the matter is not simplified by the fact that the Cobalt is heterozygous as distinct from a bird like a pure Light Green which is homozygous. In other words, two Cobalts related together, unlike the pure Light Green, the Skyblue, the Mauve, and the Olive, do not give us youngsters all of their own colour. Actually, when we mate together two Cobalts we breed Mauves and Skyblues in addition to Cobalts.

If we had before us at the beginning of a breeding season two Cobalts of the most desirable colour and fulfilling our demands as to type and size, if we knew that every chick would be a Cobalt we should be more inclined to mate them together than we often are, because those two birds, whilst being just what we might require for Cobalt breeding owing to their ancestry, may not quite meet our desires for Mauve or Skyblue production. On the other hand, it may be that they are a pair of birds capable of bringing into the world not only good Cobalts but Skyblues of merit and Mauves which, although they may not be suitable for Mauve breeding in the future, may be of great value to us for breeding Cobalt in the mating Mauve x Skyblue for instance.

I must admit that I have failed to find a reason why Cobalt x Cobalt should be unsatisfactory and, therefore, I cannot completely condemn this mating but I do not advise anyone to use it unless the two members of a pair excel in colour and in shape and whose Cobalt ancestors were of the desired shape of cobalt colouring. Cobalts bred in the same nests from a pair of Cobalts often vary surprisingly in colour. We do not seem to be able to control this variation and the only thing to do is of course, to select the best coloured Cobalts out of a clutch for our future breeding operations. In any case Cobalts bred from Cobalt x Cobalt must not themselves be mated to Cobalts. They must be paired to birds of other colour varieties. The Cobalt breeder is happily situated if every season he has a number of pairs constituted of Dark Green/blue Type I x Cobalt and/or Dark Green Type II x Blue, always providing that the immediate Cobalt ancestors of the Dark Greens were of good cobalt colour and with the further proviso that the Dark Greens are of good size and shape. To achieve success in the exhibition world never use birds which come below a certain standard of excellence.

Light Green/blue x Mauve serves a double valuable purpose. The expectation from this mating is 50 per cent. Dark Greens/blue Type II and 50 per cent Cobalts. The Dark Greens/blue Type II, as previously set forth, are most valuable for Cobalt production, for the reason that if they are mated to Skyblues they give us an expectation of no less than 50 per cent. Cobalts. Mauve x Skyblues, providing the Mauve has a good Cobalt ancestor, is another serviceable cross; in fact some of the best colored Cobalts I have seen have been bred in this way. From this pairing all the chicks are Cobalts. In many aviaries there are a number of Cobalt-bred Mauves which have too much cobalt in their colouring to make them desirable either as show birds or as a force for the cultivation of Mauves. Yet these birds can be most valuable for mating to Skyblues or Cobalts with the primary objective of their being the parents of very satisfactory Cobalts.

I have known good Cobalts bred from the mating Olive/blue x Skyblue when the expectation is 50 per cent. Dark Greens/blue Type I, 50 per cent Cobalts. But it would not be so easy now to find an Olive/blue suitable for the purpose because there are so few of them. Whether you select as mates for your Cobalts Light Greens/blue, Dark Greens/blue, Cobalts, Skyblues or Mauves, as in the cultivation of all Budgerigars for exhibition purposes, the results are greatly dependant upon the suitability of the mates in so far as size and type are concerned, and also upon the manner in which they themselves have been bred.

As in the mating Cobalt x Cobalt so in the mating Cobalt X Skyblue do we often see a dissimilarity in size and type between the Skyblues and the Cobalts so bred, and here we have striking examples of that difference in type between colour varieties to which I referred at the opening of this chapter and which presents one of the problems with which Budgerigar breeders have to contend. We often note a similar variation in Light Greens/blue and Skyblues of the same clutch.

Many other Matings are there, of course by which one can produce Skyblues, but as I have already said, I am not attempting the impossible task of describing the advantages and disadvantages of all the different methods of producing all the different colour varieties, and there are undoubtedly good birds in the country bred by crosses to which I do not refer at all. What I am trying to do, as I indicated previously, is to give those Matings which, from information I have received from other breeders and from results in my wife's aviaries, have give the most satisfactory results. The moral of the Skyblue story which I have just written is this: Whether you breed good Blues at times from this cross Blue x Blue, Light Green/Blue x Blue, Cobalt x Blue or from any other similar pairing, you must endeavour to maintain size and shape and depth and brightness of colour by periodically "dipping into the green."

Breeders of Skyblues must not overlook the value as an outcross of the Opaline, as described by me later in this chapter, while Greys and Grey Greens are also valuable in colour out-crosses for Skyblue production. In our aviaries the Skyblues are a part of our "Blue Series Breeding Circle", which consists of Violets, Cobalts, Mauves, Violet Mauves, Skyblues, Violet Skyblues, Opalines of these colours, with the introduction here and there now and again, of Dark Green/blue, Violet Dark Greens/blue, Light Greens/blue, and Opaline Green/blue. We are always more concerned with the type of the two birds constituting a pair than with their colour variety.

E-Mail: berniehansen@sympatico.ca