Breeding Visual Violets

By the late Cyril Rogers (1983)

I have had a considerable number of requests for details of how to breed visual violets and why violets suddenly appear in breeding stocks where they were previously unknown. One of the first things that breeders should know is just what causes certain birds to show in their plumage that glorious rich violet shade of colour. The character that makes this lovely colour is a dominant one and birds can carry it in either a single or a double quantity both giving the same visual effect. To produce the birds we call visual violets the violet character must be combined with the blue character and a single dark character, i.e. cobalt. In actual fact visual violets should correctly be called violet cobalts, as it is possible for all other colours and varieties in both the green and blue series to have a single or a double quantity of the violet character in their genetic make-up.

With all other colours except the cobalts, which show a true violet colour, the addition of the violet character produces a definite change of shade and this includes the green series. It is I know paradoxical to call birds violet greens, nevertheless this is a simple way of indicating that green series birds actually have the violet character. When violet is added to sky blue such birds appear to the eye as pale bright bluish cobalts and when added to mauve the birds assume a violet tinted mauve shade, often flecked with true violet feather on their rumps and under-parts. In fact violet mauves are much more of a mauve colour than most of our present day ordinary mauves, which are mostly of a leaden hue. If the breeder has any doubts as to whether the birds he has are violet sky blues or violet mauves a comparison with known normal sky blues or mauves will quickly dispel his doubts. In addition to their actual change of colour shade all birds carrying violet have deeper coloured cheek patches than their normal counterparts.

With the actual green series when violet is added to light green the birds assume a bright pale dark green shade to dark green, the birds have a very deep dull dark green shade which is quite distinct from the ordinary bright dark green colouring and stands our clearly. These violet dark greens are in fact the green counterparts of the visual violets. When violet is added to olive green there is a very distinct change of colour with the rich olive assuming a very deep dull shade quite unlike the ordinary olive greens. Here too the cheek flashes are considerably darker than their normal green series counterparts.

Pinkish Suffusion

By introducing the violet character into certain varieties some most interesting coloured birds can be evolved. The combination of albino and violet can give albinos that show a pleasing pinkish suffusion in various depths on their rump and flanks. This can best be achieved by using albinos that show an undesirable heavy bluish suffusion, in other words making use of poor coloured specimens. Cinnamon violets can be really attractively coloured birds both in their normal and opaline forms and particularly so if the lighter brighter shade of cinnamon is used in the initial crosses. Another rather unusual combination is that of violet and grey in all the depths of grey. By adding the violet the resulting violet greys have a nice warm grey shade with a violet undertone, a much more attractive colour than the ‘straight’ greys. As both the grey and violet characters are dominant the combination is quite easy to breed from the first cross. I think it can safely be said that combining violet with any of the blue series will give a bright and attractively coloured result.

Now to get back to my requests of how the violet character is inherited and I think the simplest way in which this can be achieved is to give a table of expectations. Although the violet character invariably follows the general Mendelian principles breeders should bear in mind that individual nests and single pairings can vary somewhat from the given expectations. A further point to be remembered is that no bird, cock or hen, can carry the violet character in split form as being a dominant it must show in the plumage. The exception to this rule I have found is the dark-eyed clear white as such birds show no colour or suffusion of any kind in their feathering.

Violet Single Character Expectations

Violet (SC) sky blue x sky blue gives 50% violet (SC) Sky blue, 50% sky blue

Violet (SC) sky blue x cobalt gives 25% violet (SC) Sky blue, 25% violet (SC) cobalt, 25% sky blue, 25% cobalt

Violet (SC) sky blue x mauve gives 50% violet (SC) Cobalt, 50% cobalt

Violet (SC) cobalt x sky blue gives 25% violet (SC) Sky blue, 25% violet (SC) cobalt, 25% sky blue, 25% cobalt

Violet (SC) cobalt x cobalt gives 12 violet (SC) sky blue, 25% violet (SC) cobalt, 12% violet (SC) mauve, 12% sky blue, 25% cobalt, 12% mauve

Violet (SC) cobalt x mauve gives 25% violet (SC) mauve, 25% violet (SC) cobalt, 25% mauve, 25% cobalt

Violet (SC) mauve x sky blue gives 50% violet (SC) cobalt, 50% cobalt

Violet (SC) mauve x cobalt gives 25% violet (SC) mauve, 25% violet (SC) cobalt, 25% mauve, 25% cobalt

Violet (SC) mauve x mauve gives 50% violet (SC) mauve, 50% mauve.

Above, I have given a list of single quantity violet matings but I will only give two examples of birds having a double quantity as so few examples are bred. As a general rule breeders pair their various violet birds to good quality normals because such matings give an improvement in overall standard of the violets bred. Mostly when two violet carrying birds are paired together the quality of any violets produced is not so good as the normals in the same nests. If say a violet (DC) sky blue is paired to a normal mauve all the resulting young will be violet (SC) cobalts and the reverse mating of violet (DC) mauve to sky blue will give a similar result. Should a violet (SC) sky blue be paired to a violet (SC) mauve then 25% of their young will be double character violet birds.

Newcomers Avoid Violet To Green

I would not advise new first time breeders to pair their violet birds to any examples of the green series until they have had a few seasons experience with violet character birds and are able to correctly identify all the shades. Although early on I gave some clues for selecting violet greens the inexperienced breeder may find it a little difficult to be sure in all cases. It is often these violet green coloured birds that introduce the violet character into a strain unknown to the breeder and particularly so with the violet light green/blue as violet light greens can be mistaken for ordinary dark greens if the breeder is not aware that such birds exist. Should one of these birds be paired to say a cobalt then violet cobalts and violet sky blues can result, much to the amazement of the owner. I think it is in this way that many violet cobalts are produced unknowingly. The violet character can also be introduced into a strain through the use of violet carrying lutinos and to a lesser extent by albinos. With the latter as I have already said the violet sheen can mostly be seen in their suffusions and of course there are not so many albinos bred.

Each year I get reports of visual violets (violet cobalts) being bred when lutino hens have been crossed with blue series cock birds. On a few occasions violet cobalts are recorded as coming from lutino hens paired to green coloured cocks. Such a result is of course quite in order and happens because both birds are carrying blue and one has both dark and violet. I am sure that before this season is over many breeders will be surprised to find violet cobalts from most unlikely matings. It is always satisfying to find a lovely coloured bird in a nest from two ordinary parents.

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