Clearwings Come In Many Colours
By Cyril Rogers

When budgerigar breeders who keep the usual normal colours think of the clearwing group they usually visualise them as being greens or blues in body colour. This is true to some extent, there are many more colour forms that can and are bred in small numbers. Let us begin at the start with the green series of the clearwings and the yellow wings, we have light, dark and olive green, light, medium and olive grey greens, these body shades are the most frequently seen. Then we come to the violet green shades in all the above body colours, they are; violet light green, violet dark green, violet olive green, violet grey light, violet grey medium and violet grey dark. Making a total of no less than 12 green body shades.

With the blue shades we have sky-blue, cobalt and mauve, together with grey light, grey medium and grey dark. By adding the violet character we get violet sky-blue, violet cobalt, violet mauve, violet slight grey, violet medium grey and violet dark grey, a further 12 body shades. If we add to the blue shade the two yellow face and the golden face mutations, a further 46 body shades are to be added making a total of no less than 60 all told. All these clearwings are ‘straight’ colours that is to say they all have a deep rich body shade with yellow or white wings. The wing purity can, of course, vary a great deal but the clean colouring still being the ideal.

Further mutations can be added such as opaline and cinnamon and the pheno types can be increased even further. This will give opaline clearwings and cinnamon clearwings. The former gives birds with the deep clearwing body colour but with the opaline pattern markings on the wings which of course is an unwanted feature in ‘straight’ clearwings. With the cinnamon clearwings the whole of their colouring is of a less deep or as bright colour which again is undesirable. I wonder how many breeders of clearwings know that there could be such a vast number of different shades in this most attractive mutation.

Origins

When these delightfully coloured birds first came to this country from Australia to British breeders they caused quite a sensation when they were seen in breeders’ aviaries and on the show benches during the mid-1930’s. Although reports about their lovely colouring had appeared in our fancy papers, breeders here had not realised the contrast between the body and wing colours or the purity and depth of their colours. Breeders of that period quickly found that when imported specimens were paired to British bred stock the colouring of the resulting young birds varied a great deal when seen alongside specimens bred from 2 imported birds. Nevertheless some excellent birds were produced and the mutation attracted many more supporters with the yellow wing dark greens and whitewing cobalts being the most sort after colours.

Just as clearwings were getting well established both as aviary birds and on the exhibition benches the Second World War broke out and the whole bird fancy naturally went into a sharp decline. When the conflict had stopped there were only a small number of the various coloured budgerigars remaining in breeders hands and some colours had unfortunately disappeared completely. Nevertheless the breeding of budgerigars once more began to develop and breeders with small studs of clearwings started to get in touch with each other to exchange birds and discuss the possibility of forming a society to promote clearwings.

In 1963 their wishes came into being with the formation of the Clearwing Budgerigar Breeders Association and this specialist society prevented clearwings from slipping very much into the background. At this period clearwings started to increase in numbers and substance, but at the expense of their overall colouring. Although many birds were bolder in build their colour, particularly their wings, lacked the freedom from distended undulations, as did their imported ancestors. This loss of their depth and clearness of colour was, and still is, in many cases, due to out-crossing to gain substance with large buff normals, especially grey and grey green birds. However during the past few breeding seasons much more attention has been given to the pairings that have produced a much higher percentage of birds with much improved colour. If breeders continue to follow this train of thought we should soon be seeing real clearwings on the show benches.

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