From what I hear from various fanciers it seems that one of the most frequently misnamed varieties is the attractive yellow olive. From the standpoint of the new breeder they always seem to be birds that are rather mysterious and should be kept in the background for some reason or other. In this article I am going to try to explain about the different kinds of yellow olives and how to name them correctly.
The first question is I think just what are yellow olives? Yellow olives are birds belonging to the yellow group, that is yellow birds, which are more or less devoid of the characteristic markings. Also they have a double quantity of a darkening factor, usually known as D, which suffuses the otherwise light yellow colouring with an olive tint in various degrees of intensity. This is the same darkening factor, which causes the greens to be olive greens, the blues to be mauves, the whites to be white mauves etc. It is therefore to be expected that the olive yellows reproduce in exactly the same way, as do the other dark birds. The main rules of olive yellow inheritance are as follows:
1. Pure olive yellow paired to pure olive yellow will produce 100% olive yellow young.
2. Pure olive yellow paired to light yellow will produce 100% dark yellow young.
3. Pure olive yellow paired to pure dark yellow will produce 50% dark yellow and 50% olive yellow young.
Sometimes however, when two olive yellows are mated together there appears a few white birds amongst their offspring; this does not mean that the parent birds are not olive yellows, it is a definite indication that they are "split" for white. There is no visible means of distinguishing between a pure olive yellow and one which is "split" for another colour.
As a point of interest, and one that is very frequently useful under certain conditions, is the knowledge that it is not possible to breed light birds from one yellow olive parent. By light I mean genetically light birds, such as light yellows, light greens, sky blues etc. Any young birds, which have an olive yellow for one parent, must be either dark or olive (mauve) in their colouring as per the rules mentioned above.
Before we proceed any further it might be as well to get the naming of these birds definitely and clearly settled. The name allotted to them by the Colour Standards Committee of the Budgerigar Society and now universally recognised is olive yellow. Previously they had been know as yellow olives, but as this name was not quite an accurate description, and to bring them into line with the other two yellow kinds, it was altered to the present and correctly descriptive one.
I have quite frequently heard these birds called olive/yellows and dark yellows, neither of which are correct as there are actual birds corresponding to these two names which are different from the real olive yellows.
Once again I would urge all breeders when discussing birds, particularly when in the company of new breeders, to use only the correct and recognised names for the different varieties. If the beginner is inaccurately informed it is quite probable that mistakes will be made both in the breeding pen and on the show bench and disappointments at the start of a breeders career are not at all good.
It is now I think about time that I gave a detailed description of the various types of olive yellows, commencing with the ordinary kind. Like the ordinary whites there can be yellow olives with both light and deep suffusions. With the lightly suffused kind of olive yellows the marking on the back of the head, the nape of the neck, shoulders and wings, should be as faint as possible - their complete absence being perfection, on a bright rich yellow ground. The tail is usually slightly tinted but in some strains it is almost clear dull yellow - a very desirable feature. The general body colour is a deep, mustard shade with a slight olivish tinting on the rump. In most specimens the feet and legs are pinkish in colour but occasionally specimens are seen with bluish tinted feet and legs. Actually this leg colour has no real bearing with regard to show birds, although I myself think the pinkish legs give a better finish.
With the deeply suffused kind the colour scheme is the same as with the lightly suffused kind, only the markings are a little more pronounced and the body colour is deeper and the olivish shade is more pronounced. Some of the deeply suffused kinds carry such a depth of body colouring that they appear to be pale editions of the yellow wing olive greens. There are of course birds produced having varying degrees of body suffusion but generally they can be placed into one or the other of the two main suffusions.
Closely allied and very similar in their general colouring to the ordinary olive yellows are the cinnamon olive yellows. Here, as with the white varieties, the cinnamon character has the effect of considerably lessening the dark markings and giving a body colour of a more clear and brighter tone, and at the same time producing a very desirable silkiness of feather texture.
I have seen some specimens of the lightly suffused cinnamon olive yellows with hardly a marking showing anywhere on their bodies and a truly magnificent body colouring almost clear golden in tone. The more deeply suffused cinnamon olive yellows are also very colourful and the slight olive shading they show is particularly pleasing as it is generally so rich and solid.
To get the best colour results of the cinnamon kind it is very necessary to pay special attention to the selection of the ordinary stock at the commencement of the matings for cinnamon olive yellow production. Chose only birds which are solid in colour and do not show too heavy wing markings, birds bred from some of the clearwing crosses are very useful for this purpose, particularly cock birds which may be "split" for cinnamon.
Incidentally I have found that the fact that olive yellows or cinnamon olive yellows are "split" for white has no undesirable effect as regard to the purity of their colouring. In fact one of the best nests of cinnamon olive yellows I have seen so far this season were produced from a cinnamon white mauve cock and a cinnamon olive yellow hen.
Without previous experience it will at first be found that extra care will be needed to differentiate between certain cinnamon olive yellows and their ordinary olive yellow counterparts. However, on close inspection it will be observed that the actual cinnamon birds are silkier in feather, lighter and clearer in wing colouring, and the cheek patches show quite faintly and are of a soft colour not seen in the ordinary olive yellows.
As an extra precautionary measure when "split" cinnamon birds are being used a special note should be taken of the ring numbers of the youngsters, which show the cinnamon eye colour when in the nest. By doing this, the breeder is saved the trouble and worry of differentiating between the difficult borderline coloured birds.
At this point it would perhaps be as well to explain how to recognise the cinnamon nestlings. This distinctive eye colour of the cinnamons is only visible for the first week or two after the chicks have been hatched and when they leave their nest boxes their eyes have taken on the same dark colouring as the normal dark eyed birds. The eyes of newly hatched cinnamon chicks appear a dull pinkish purple colour through the skin and stand out quite plainly beside the normal dark eyed nest mates. When the eyes are first open they show a distinct red gleam for a few days, then they gradually darken until they appear just the same as the normals.
Another very pretty and interesting olive yellow variety is the fallow olive yellow which at the present is rather rare but I am pleased to say steadily increasing in number. With the fallow olive yellow we have the red eye colouring of the fallow group coupled with a most distinctive and rich olive yellow body colouring.
As with the other types of olive yellows the body colouring throughout of the fallow kind varies in depth with individual birds and the majority of the specimens I have seen have been of the deeply suffused kind. Strangely enough most of the fallow olive yellows carry heavier markings on their wings than one would expect, but as this is of a soft brownish tint it is not disagreeable to the eye. Their body colouring is invariably a very deep rich shade with a tremendous depth of soft golden olive on the rump, this being particularly attractive. I have not yet seen a fallow olive yellow with real clear wings so they need not be confused because of their red eyes with real lutinos. However, by careful selection and the introduction of the cinnamon character it is possible to produce the cinnamon fallow olive variety.
Now with this particular cinnamon form it is quite possible to breed birds, which are quite devoid of all markings and could quite easily pass for real lutinos. Actually on the show bench it is immaterial whether these clear birds are lutinos or otherwise, all that counts is the visible colouring and not the genetic make-up. This is a point, which should always be borne in mind, the visible colour is one thing and the genetic make-up may be a very different matter.
Of course, it will be realised that when breeding cinnamon fallow olive yellows only an odd bird will turn up here and there that will be quite pure in colour throughout. As a rule they just show slight wing markings, at the butts particularly, and a little tinting of the tail feathers. These markings take on a peculiar attractive reddish brown colour and on their rich yellow ground give the birds rather a striking appearance. Several breeders who have produced or seen these cinnamon fallow olive yellows tell me they actually prefer them to the clear yellow ones. It is a matter of opinion of course but I know that quite a lot of breeders think budgerigars without their characteristic markings are not really complete and that the markings make a definite finish to any bird.
Another form of olive yellow, which is likely to be met with in the near future, is the opaline olive yellow. I have only seen three birds of this particular kind and they were all hens, the opaline character being a sex-linked one, so hens appear on the scene before the cock birds. The body colour of these hens was just the same shade as a good deeply suffused normal olive yellow and their characteristic mantles were of the same shade. The heads were slightly barred with soft markings on a deep rich yellow ground.
These opaline olive yellows may not be particularly colourful but they are of great value for breeding the very beautiful opaline cobalt types. Taken all through, the olive yellow varieties are extremely useful birds in the breeding pens and at the same time make very good exhibition specimens. I do think they are worthy of more attention than they have been receiving and hope that in the future they will be more widely cultivated.