THE EXHIBITION LIGHT YELLOW

By the late Cyril Rogers, date unknown

Since the clear yellow-red-eyed (lutino) variety came into popularity the dark-eyed exhibition light yellows (the so called buttercups) have been forced out of their position on the show bench. No doubt many of the pre-war breeders remember the wonderful classes of light yellows which were to be seen at practically every show throughout the country during the 1930’s and how these light yellows frequently vied with the light greens for Best in Show. The disappearance of light yellows from the present day show bench has I think been accelerated somewhat by the cancellation of individual classes for them, causing them to be shown in AOC class against all the new and exciting colours.

I know that with the many colours which now exist in budgerigars, show promoters find it difficult to formulate schedules to please everyone - we would all like to see our own favourite varieties have separate classes - and I hope that some of the larger shows will consider giving the breeders of exhibition light yellows a chance to show their birds under reasonably favorable conditions of competition. Much of course is up to the actual breeders of exhibition light yellows who can, by showing their birds, freely make the need for special classes apparent.

In an article Roy Wilson made certain observations about the breeding of light yellows (buttercups) which should help to create an interest in the breeding and exhibiting of this fine old variety. As a past breeder and exhibitor of light yellows and living near Cambridge the "home" of light yellows and their "godfather" R J Watts, I should like to add my own collected observations. Many times Mr Watts and myself have discussed from every possible angle the production and breeding possibilities of the exhibition light yellows.

Bred Within Their Own Variety

Breeding records reveal clearly that to get a continued measure of success exhibition light yellows must be selectively bred within their own variety. Light yellows follow the laws of Mendel like all other colours and variations but the breeder’s skill in selecting the right mates can help to achieve the best results in the shortest possible time. It is known that certain factors, which can modify the expression of other characters exist in the general make-up of the various coloured budgerigars but how these factors operate exactly is not yet very clear. The "bad" light yellows (pastels, the ordinary light yellows and the exhibition light yellows (buttercups)) are all basically the same but with certain characters, which control their individual visible colouring. Mr Wilson’s article gave the theoretical aspect of the crossing of exhibition light yellows with other colours and I will now explain what has actually happened from certain cross-breeding pairs.

Pair No 1: Light green (pure) paired to exhibition light yellow gave eight light green (a beautiful bright shade) coloured young which were all "split" for yellow. From these eight youngsters the best cock and hen were selected and mated the following season to other exhibition light yellows and they produced in all twelve young, five yellow coloured and seven green coloured. The yellow colouring of the yellow birds was quite good on the breast but failed badly on rump, tail and wing butts. Two further young "splits" were mated together and of their six young only one was a yellow, a fine bird for size and shape, but again lacking in colour. It took two more seasons of breeding the light yellows of light green extraction before they produced young of the desired exhibition light yellow shade. However, the experiment was a success as the quality and size of the ultimate young exhibition light yellows had been improved through inheriting good exhibition characters from their light green ancestor.

Pair No 2: Exhibition light yellow cock paired to lutino hen. This pair gave seven young, made up of the following colours; two grey green, one dark green, two light greens, two dark yellows and one grey light yellow. As these young were such a mixed batch they were not used for re-crossing with exhibition light yellows and a further mating was made. Incidentally the two grey greens proved most useful in producing some soundly coloured and well shaped lutinos.

Pair No 3: Exhibition light yellow cock paired to lutino hen. This time the lutino hen was a lutino light yellow having been proved such by the previous year’s breeding. This was quite a prolific pair and they produced eleven chicks, all yellow in colour as would be expected. The four young hens were mated the following season to four exhibition light yellow cocks and gave thirty-two young in all. These young varied very considerably in their purity of colour, five being quite passable for clearness of shade. Even with these fairly clear birds it still took another two seasons to get back that desired purity and richness of yellow colouring. Although some little improvement had been made in the exhibition light yellows bred from the lutino hen’s descendants it was not so great as the advancement made by the light green pairing No 1.

Many other crosses have been made with such colours as sky blues, opalines, greywings, greys, yellow faces etc, but little or no success has been achieved, that is as regards to colour. The use of the cinnamon character with the exhibition light yellow has produced some most useful results in quite a short space of time with many of the cinnamon light yellows raised being very pure in colour throughout. Although cinnamon light yellows (and the other cinnamon yellows) are pure in colour the majority of normal exhibition light yellows will beat them quite easily for depth and general richness of yellow colouring. Taking all things into consideration I should say that the colours, which have the greatest value in crossing with the exhibition light yellows when the need arises are pure light greens and cinnamon light greens. Last week I saw some very fine nests of exhibition light yellows in the aviaries of Mr Watts, which had been bred pure for a great many years. These youngsters certainly did not look as though they needed the help of any other colours to improve their size, quality or clearness and richness of shade.

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