In Praise of the Yellow Plum-headed Parakeet

Dale R. Thompson


I n 1980 I had the privilege of visiting several breeders of parrot mutations in Europe. Being very early in the mutation game, any new mutation of any psittacine species created quite a stir among avicultural circles on both sides of the Atlantic. The European breeders were far advanced in their techniques in aviculture in the late 1970s and early 1980s especially in the long-tailed parakeets. These especially included the Australian parakeets and all of the Psittacula group.

Europeans were able to acquire new birds from the wild much easier than American breeders could. This was mainly due to the quarantine restrictions in the U.S. due to the threat of Newcastle Disease (WND). Newcastle Disease can severely threaten the populations of captive hirds in both the poultry and exotic hird industries.

Most of the new mutations first occurred in European collections as they were many years ahead of the American aviculturist in procuring and reproducing the above two groups of birds. I observed many new mutations in 1980 including the blue, dark-eyed yellow and three dilute forms of the Mustached Parakeet. Dilute does not refer to a color or mutation hut is a reference point of how much melanin is removed or remaining in any color. I personally felt that one of these dilutes was the cinnamon. Only through reproduction can the genetics of each new mutation he determined.

Of great interest was that I had observed the blue Mustached Parakeet in Belgium the year before and it was explained to me that it came directly from the wild. In only a year later (or maybe two), I observed this same blue Mustached Parakeet in the aviaries of John Postema in the Netherlands. It had been paired to a normal mate and this pair had three young fledglings. Time and time again new mutations would show up in Mr. Posterna's aviaries and this man reproduced them. It is something when one has a lot of mutations but it is even greater if the aviculturist reproduces them. And certainly John Postema did that. A lot of credit must he given to Mr. Postema for his expertise and avicultural knowledge. Many wild-caught specimens are truly wild and they are difficult to reproduce. They are not the same hird that has heen hred for generations in captivity like the ringnecks and rosellas in our aviaries.

Other incredible mutations reproduced by Mr. Postema were the blue and lutino Alexandrine Parakeets. Neither one of these mutations had been crossed (hybridized) with the hlue or lutino Ringneck as was occasionally done hy some hreeders. No, these mutations were the true thing. I was simply stunned hy the white ring on the heautiful hlue Alexandrine male.

I observed so many new mutations, let alone new species (for me), and was thrilled with them all. I thought I had seen the best there was, until coming upon a flight toward the end of the isle. There flew a mutation that I have to place in the top three mutations seen in my lifetime. This mutation was the dark-eyed yellow Plum-headed Parakeet.

I personally have some disdain for mutations that are less (in color or pattern) than the normal hird found in the wild. This is why you will never see a blue Scarlet-chested Parakeet in my aviaries. God made such a beautiful hird, so why mess with it.

The Plum-headed Parakeet is one top bird when it comes to color. In Forshaw's Parrots of the World, the head is descrihed as deep red. It is really a vihrant plum color. A color not seen very often in exotic birds. In the yellow mutation the melanin is reduced only slightly, giving the head a light plum color that is vibrant. The complete bird (this was the male obviously) was full of different colors that are not normally seen in nature and the colors seemed to be balanced.

After thinking about it, both the normal colored hird and the yellow mutation do come from nature, so why wouldn't they be balanced. The most stunning color was a lime color that lined the side of the bird. This derivative of a green color matched the vibrant light plum of the head and wing bar on the male.

This male dark-eyed yellow Plumheaded Parakeet was paired with a normal female and there were three juveniles on the perch with them. The dark-eyed yellow Plumhead is a recessive mutation so all of the three offspring on the perch were split to the mutation color.

The sex-linked lutino Plumhead is very similar in appearance to the darkeyed yellow. I saw the bird that Mr. Fitzsimmons had brought into the country. If I were to acquire one of these beautiful mutations, I would work on getting the dark-eyed yellow form as it is very much stronger. I keep hearing over the years about the further reproduction by Mr. Postema on the dark-eyed yellow Plumhead and I keep hearing the rumor that it may be coming into the U.S.

Or maybe it is in the country. Could that be true? I'm sure Roger Bringas, of North Hollywood, California would know as he has been the person to bring in so many of the beautiful mutations from Europe.

No matter what, I will always remember the first time I observed this new mutation and stood there in awe for several minutes. I even had to go back for a second look. This was a mutations that was good on the eyes. I do hope to see this bird someday in the aviaries of an American aviculturist. If you see one, please let me know. I will be waiting by the telephone. ,


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