Of all the Cockatiel mutations, the Pearl must be one of the most versatile, having been combined with every other mutation to produce the multiple mutations so sought after these days. The Pearl is one of two mutations bred for their markings, the other being the Pied. As the Pearl is a sex-linked mutation you do not have to worry about crossing them to Normals to keep up their size, good Pearls with their tall, full crests, will tower above other mutations. You breed them for their markings and coloration. Combining the Pearl with other mutations, particularly the recessive mutations, not only alters their appearance by the addition of the Pearl markings, but also helps build up the size of the other mutations. This could be why we are starting to see some good sized Pearl Pieds these days. The Pearl was first bred in Germany in 1967 and since then it has gained in popularity. It is not often seen on its own, but is more commonly seen in multiple mutations.
One of the more startling combinations would be a White-faced Pied Lacewing - a White Cockatiel with very delicate lacing on its wings. But for the enthusiast wishing to concentrate on Pearls, the ultimate objective must surely be the Golden Lacewing. Before we can define what a Golden Lacewing is we must first look at the Pearl mutation to gain an insight into how the feathers get their markings. When Pearl males reach maturity they look like Normal males, so we shall only be considering adult Pearl hens and immatures. However, although the male birds revert back, they still carry the Pearl mutation. As with all Cockatiels, the colors we see in the feathers are caused by pigments. With mutations these pigments are either modified - they can get stronger or weaker - or they are missing altogether. The first pigment is called melanin, which is responsible for the grey, while the second are a weaker group of pigments called lipochromes, which are responsible for the yellows and orange.
Lutinos lose all their melanin while Pieds lose it from groups of feathers. A Clear Pied has lost all its melanin. In Cinnamonís and Dominant Silvers the melanin is diluted, but in Pearls, melanin is lost from part of the feather. The lipachrome pigments can get stronger in any of the Cockatiel mutations barring one, or get weaker. When they get stronger the most noticeable effect is that the yellow gets deeper, and the orange ear patches get brighter, when it gets weaker the birds lose yellow. So far the White-faced mutation is the only mutation to lose all its lipochrome pigments. With Pearls we are seeking Cockatiels that have stronger lipochrome pigmentations, these will give us the golden yellow we need to breed the Golden Lace-wings. In seeking a deeper yellow do not be mislead by the amount of yellow that Cinnamonís and Dominant Silvers show. This yellow is not deeper, the birds only show more of it as their melanin is suppressed. In seeking a bird with deeper yellow in it, there is one tell-tale sign to look for; if its white wing bars visibly show yellow then it is carrying more than its fair share. This is more noticeable in Cockatiels that are split to Pied. There is a lot of talk at the moment about Green Cockatiels. When someone breeds a Normal split to Buttercup Pied, the yellow on the bird is so strong that it tries to mask out the grey. From a distance the bird will look green but on closer inspection the grey will be showing through the yellow making the Cockatiel look green in color. This can happen with any of the mutations that are Buttercup and also show grey. However, just as Cockatiel feathers cannot show blue, since it is not in their make up, they can not show true greens. Pearls lose melanin from part of the feather, and the amount lost affects the overall appearance of the bird. The one thing that remains constant regardless of how much melanin is lost, is that the central vein of the affected feathers remain dark. The easiest feathers to see this on are the tail feathers - compare them to Lutinos or Pieds which have clear tail feathers. The Pearls tail feathers can also show grey markings mottled with yellow on the ends of the feathers and also along the edge. The main wing flight feathers are also subject to the loss of melanin, but to a much smaller degree and only along the leading edge of the feathers. Without doubt the most beautiful feathers on Pearls are the shoulder feathers. As they are small, the colours are condensed with the yellow being the most predominant. This gives the glistening tear drop effect on the shoulders and down part of the wing, hence this mutation's name. It is the rest of the wing feathers that really concern us as far as the markings are concerned. They are the right shape and size to show a definite pattern when the loss of melanin is constant from feather to feather. The aim should be to have a fine grey band left round the outer edge of these feathers, with the centre vein remaining dark.
How hard are they to Breed?:
When this is achieved we will have a Lacewing, for as the term implies, all these feathers must exhibit the lacetype marking. Unfortunately, a lot of Pearls are called Lacewings when they do not come up to this standard. Lacewings are, nearly as hard to breed as Buttercup-colored Cockatiels. On really heavily marked Pearls, virtually all the grey feathers are subject to the loss of melanin, even the crest. It is these specimens that show a deep yellow where the melanin has been lost that we get a stunning looking Pearl. As the yellow gets deeper, so the grey gets darker until it is a charcoal grey. The thing to avoid when going for these is Cinnamon, as this will tend to dilute the grey. Those Pearls that do show a deep yellow where the grey has been lost are often called Golden Pearls. When you combine a deep yellow with the Lacewing markings you then have a Golden Lacewing.
Tiel pictures below main Cockatiel page.
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