News of this variety was revealed to British breeders in 1978 through an Article in cage and Aviary from an English fancier who had seen these birds while on a visit to Australia. It appears they were being bred in several aviaries in various parts of Australia so the mutation must have occurred a year or two before 1978. Spangles are a Dominant variety of rather striking color pattern which can be had in all varieties in both the Green and the Blue series. Their feather markings are like those seen in the Spangled Poultry varieties. Their color is best explained by quoting from an article by P. Gardener which was published in the magazine of The Budgerigar Society of Australia:
Spangle Cobalt- Mask: white, throat spots: black with white centre, cheek patches: violet, body color cobalt, wing markings with each feather edged with black, flight and tail feathers edged with black. The above quotation is a specification for a good coloured example of the Cobalt form but individual birds of all colours can vary in their actual colouring. It is the single character spangles that show the characteristic feather markings most clearly as with the double character birds the pattern is more indistinct and even absent. Spangles are now being bred all over the world so it should not be very long before more of these specimens will be appearing on our own show benches.
For fanciers making a start with a new variety, much of the groundwork must be done well in advance. As with a house or a birdroom the foundations must be solid and secure, the same applies with birds. To get off to a good start with Spangles an in-depth knowledge must be gained of the variety, so read as much as you can about the history and make up of the Spangle and arrive at your own opinions. I believe that we still do not know the full extent of this fascinating variety and there are still "grey areas" in its make-up. When gathering knowledge it is best to go to a breeder of Spangles and discuss them on a one to one basis and the breeder will usually answer any questions to the best of their ability. To start off you must have a very good family of good quality Normals spreading across Light to Dark Factor birds, this enables the contrast to be maintained. In the beginning only pair your Spangles to Normals, avoiding Opaline or Cinnamon. Opalines can be used at a later date to increase feather width but the first generation offspring should be paired back to Normals. I started my Spangles from a single hen which came from a Champion Sky blue cock paired to a Spangle. To make a start again I would purchase a pair of related Spangles, brother/sister halfbrother/sister or cousins and pair these to my best Normals. Then, the following year, cross the young to establish a line, getting rid of the lesser birds and only breeding with the best examples. Proceed this way and some good birds should be bred within three breeding seasons. Remember there is no short cut to success.
Holding their own:
The Normals which you use with your newly purchased Spangles should be able to hold their own in the section which you are showing, meaning that the birds should have a good back line with no crossed wings or dipping tail. Discard these at your annual cull. I look at a bird from the tail up to its head as a lot of people disregard the line of a bird and only look for head and shoulders. I would select birds of Intermediate feather, long in frame and on the hens side birds with a hollow back to give style to the youngsters. One feature which I look for is vitality. The bird must be able to fly and not walk or climb everywhere. Using the big buff bird is a road to nowhere. When it comes to getting your first Spangle, doing your homework can save you a lot of money and time. A winning stud does not comprise of one winning bird and by visiting as many studs as you can and looking at the overall quality one can soon ascertain who has quality in depth. When out shopping, always state your case with the breeder as to what you want and take someone with you for guidance. If this is refused, take your money elsewhere. I like to handle the birds if I am buying. Any with lumps can be discarded, most importantly I feel for feather quality -- I even pair some birds up by this method.
Acquiring outcrosses is a stage in any planned breeding programme. Initially you should not need to buy any birds for a number of years providing the birds you first bought bred and survived. This means you would have visual Spangles, non-Spangles bred from Spangle pairings and possibly in the second year, Double Factor Spangles. In the third year you will pair the Double Factors to the non-Spangles bred from Spangle birds to try to retain the sharp contrast on the wings. When you bring birds in as an outcross sometimes the blood-lines do not mix, meaning the young are very weak and have a struggle to grow or have major faults, when this happens you must discard what you have produced. The main benefit of keeping your lines pure is when you look at the young you can dip in from your initial stock foundation or the Spangle source to help features which need improving. However, I am a firm believer that pairing mother to son or father to daughter serves no purpose. That to me is too close. My ideal pairings are aunt to nephew. With the Spangle the main feature without doubt is the Spangle markings on the wings and this is the grey area that I mentioned earlier. Since the early birds in this variety, the Spangle has lost much of its contrast and may be changing in its make-up. The feather of the Spangle is totally different from that of a Normal. It is more dense and has an extra layer close to the skin. With this extra feathering it gives the illusion of being much bigger. How the variety will develop in the future is still to be discovered, however what I do know is that it will continue to be a firm favourite on the showbench for exhibitors and judges alike. Basically I line breed but believe that if I have a number of pairs in one color, I like to have an outcross in at least one of these pairs each year. They don't always knit in and if this is done on a regular basis there is always something coming through. Remember it is sometimes the third generation before the benefit of an outcross is seen. Keeping a number of colors, outcrosses can often be found from different lines within ones own aviary. Regular swapping with friends also dips into lines of related birds. These methods can be used with normal varieties if bred in blood lines. Breeding a winning line is difficult but staying there is even more difficult. It is claimed that by pairing Spangles together it will improve the markings. In this case it has given them some black feathers in the wings creating small black patches so they will have to be paired back to Normals.
Breeding Spangles - An Alternative:
Several Spangle hens were paired back to our best quality grey greens and started to produce a number of really good quality show birds. Since then we have put the Spangles into all our families with considerable success. We always put them into Normals as we find that this produces the best marked spangles. Thankfully the Normals have lost nothing of their quality. One other advantage is that they are a dominant variety. Birds cannot be split for the factor. A spangle x normal will produce roughly equal numbers of Spangles and Normals. The birds produced are what you see. They are either spangles or Normals. No hidden recessives. We still have a great deal to learn about Spangles and find them a fascinating alternative to our Normals without having to sacrifice any of the quality. Contrary to some breeders we never pair spangle x spangle. The double factor spangles produced are to our mind a waste of time in that they cannot realistically be shown against the marked variety. If they are to be used for breeding then you are pairing up blind, having no idea as to what markings are being put into the pairing. There are many imponderables in pairing birds, why add to them.
At the present time there appears to be a school of thought that believes that just because it is possible to breed a certain colour variety, classes should be provided. Spots can be a problem for breeders. Although the standard calls for them to be "bulls eye" in reality very few of our youngsters ever show anything other than a few bits of flecking on the mask. The spots appear as the birds mature. At the present time there appear to be two types of spots. We believe that breeders should do all they can to retain the breed characteristics, one of the obvious ones being the unique "bulls eye". Many years ago a really beautiful mutation, the Opaline, was ruined by trying to breed normalisation into the variety. To this day the Opaline has not recovered. Lets try to make sure that the same doesn't happen to the Spangle. From time to time we produce the odd Cinnamon Spangle and although they do not show their markings as well as the Normals they are really beautiful birds. Up until this year we have usually sold these youngsters but last year produced some excellent cinnamon spangles and so decided to keep a couple. They in turn have produced some outstanding youngsters, both in Normal and Spangle and so justified their retention. In conclusion we would say that we have no hesitation in recommending spangles to anyone. You will not be disappointed with this beautiful and versatile variety.
For my breeding programme I had hoped for a Double Factor Yellow Spangle hen rather than the cock that was bred, as the intention was to put her into my Line of Lutinos, However, being a cock he will be used as a Spangle. A cock would not produce Lutinos in the first generation when paired to a Lutino hen. This causes waiste in several ways. The first is time, a year is wasted and the young hens produced are unlikely to be top class Spangles anyway. In the second year, using the split cocks to Lutino hens, yet more Spangles will be produced, some of course being split for Lutino. These will be unidentifiable without test mating them. If however, a Lutino cock is paired to a Double Factor Spangle hen all the young hens will be Lutinos and can be paired back to Lutinos the following year producing one hundred percent Lutinos, unless both are split for blue on which occasions Albinos will appear in the nests of red-eyes. Also, in the first year, unless of the required quality, the young split cocks can be disposed of. Continuing with the use of Double Factor Spangles in Inos, the White hen that was bred this year in the second nest will be used, when mature enough, to my Albinos.
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Hamilton & District Budgerigar Society Inc.