Posted by permission from Budgerigar World, Nov., 1996.


Now that the Recessive Pied Budgerigar has reached the stage when it can be compared realistically with top class Normals, the question can be asked; when will it secure the award for best in show at a B.S. Championship event? A few years ago, such a question would have been greeted with wry smiles, but after the vast improvement seen in the best examples of today, such a question must now be taken seriously. During the years since I started breeding in 1965, the basic advice given to breeders has been to outcross to the best available Normals, then to breed back the following year using splits obtained from the first seasons work. This was sound advice and I feel sure that by consistently following this course, enthusiasts have brought this rather difficult variety up to its present high standard. But, where do we go from here? Obviously, further improvement is looked for, but when comparing the best Recessive Pieds with top class Normals there is often nothing to be gained from the latter, as the quality is so similar. If a super bird is available, then we are back in business, but unfortunately these are few and far between and if found, they are rarely obtainable. Naturally it is infinitely more difficult to improve good stock to the degree that was possible with poor stock, so we are looking for just a little more improvement to refine our present day birds.

A new approach:
So how can this be done? I feel we should try a new approach to the problem. Taking stock of what has been achieved so far could give us the answer to taking the top award. Lack of size was found to be linked to this mutation right from the start, so it was hardly surprising that it has taken 40 years and more to gain respectability. Several sizeable examples have been bred, coupled with good width of head, but unfortunately all of these have been over-coarse or, to use the Fancy terminology, very "Buff'. This has proven that great size and head quality is transferable to Recessive Pieds, but it; is necessary to tone the coarseness down before that elusive Best in Show award can be expected. It is generally agreed that Dark Factor Budgerigars appear smaller than Light Factors, and this is why so few good Olives and Mauves have been exhibited. Most surprisingly, this rule would seem to be quite the reverse when applied to Recessive Pieds. Add the Dark Factor and often size improves dramatically. I cannot account for this, but by way of proof I can list the four largest Pieds I have yet seen on the show bench; Dave Cottrell's Violet hen bred around 1986; Ghalib Al Nasser's and my own Cobalt cocks bred in 1990; Mike Crawford's Dark Green Cinnamon hen bred in 1992. And four of these birds won the highest level and all carried the Dark factor. Sadly, they were just a little too Buff and carried slight flecking, but it would seem that Recessive Pied added to the Dark Factor gives more than a good chance of sizeable offspring.

Using Dilutes:
A second mutation which seems to help as regards size is the Dilute. I have no knowledge of other breeders results but have found that when combined with Dilute, very good quality Recessives are produced. Once more this defies logic, but it is so. Unfortunately much appeal is lost in the resultant offspring's coloration. However, as both Dark Factors and Dilutes work in the breeder's favour, it might be worth the effort of combining all three factors. i.e. Recessive Pied + Dilute + Dark, in one quality bird. This may be another step along the road to that elusive Best in Show. Perhaps by providing a Dark Factor Dilute Recessive Pied, and then pairing back to Pied or split Pied, we could produce correct size and head quality without the coarseness or flecking seen so far. Why has the Recessive Pied suddenly become such a popular variety? Nowadays, classes of 15-20 exhibits are not uncommon, while ten years ago a full class was something of a novelty. Firstly the Variegated Budgerigar Club (VBC) promoted them with their patronage scheme, which catered for all sections and gave most exhibitors a fair chance of taking a rosette or special with Recessive Pieds. This was followed by the Specialist and Rare Variety Show, which further encouraged the benching of these birds. Finally, with the very mixed breeding results which were being encountered by supporters of Normals, it became the fashion to try a few rares mixed in the Normal aviary. Recessive Pieds were reputed to be free breeders and less expensive than their high class Normal cousins with their accompanying breeding problems. Therefore, many of the well known names now have a few pairs of these birds and most of them regularly exhibit. It is wonderful to be able to view up to 200 Recessives benched at the top Championship Shows now, with often many very high class birds among them. The icing on the cake will be the day I see a Best in Show award on such a bird.

E-Mail: berniehansen@sympatico.ca



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