Color Mutation Pacific Parrotlets

If you breed budgies, lovebirds or cockatiels, you know the excitement of working with color mutations. Studying the intricacies of genetics can give a whole new meaning to breeding birds. It is also difficult to describe the thrill of looking in a nest box and discovering a new color no one else has bred.Right now is a very exciting time in parrotlet breeding. Several color mutations have been developed in Pacific parrotlets in both Europe and the United States and many more are on the way. The Europeans, particularly the Belgians, have had more time to improve their stock but the US is quickly catching up. The yellow, blue and fallow color mutations are now readily available in the United States. You can also find olive, cobalt, lutino, white and albino. Europeans have, in addition to these, pastels and cinnamons. All of these colors are non-sex linked, recessive mutations.

smfallowAlthough not as striking as the yellow or blue, the fallow color mutation is a very lightly colored yellow bird with beige and green mixed in. The males retain the cobalt wings, backs and eye streaks of the normal Pacific. Since most of these birds were developed from the subspecies, the females often have teal rumps and prominent eye streaks. Both males and females have red eyes. Because many of these parrotlets are small and have low fertility, many breeders are breeding fallows to normal birds to produce splits. (A split is a normal looking bird which carries the color gene. When two splits are bred, they will produce 25% visually colored babies.) These splits will then be bred to produce visual color mutations which will be bigger and healthier than the original colored birds.

smamyellThe American yellow was developed by Dr. Rainer Erhart of Michigan and differs greatly from the European bird. The American variety is a bright butter yellow completely encompassing the entire body with no green feathers and black eyes. This is true in both males and females. The European bird is reputed to have quite a bit of green feathers dispersed among the yellow. In both varieties, the male keeps the blue wings, eye streaks and rump, however, they are not as dark as in the normals.

smblupacBlue Pacifics are breathtakingly beautiful birds which are a delicate powder blue. The males also keep their gorgeous cobalt feathers which gives a wonderful two-tone appearance of blue on blue. In this mutation, the females are just as beautiful as the males with their soft, almost turquoise colored feathers. We obtained our stock from Europe and have found them to be quite prolific. They have produced several clutches averaging six to eight eggs and are attentive parents. The babies are large, strong birds with sweet dispositions. In fact, they make remarkably sweet pets and even are non-aggressive with one another.

Understanding recessive, single mutations, using blue, is as follows:

  • BB x BB = 100% Blue Offspring
  • BB x BG = 75% Blue & 25% Blue Split Offspring
  • BB x GG = 100% Split
  • BG x BG = 25% Blue, 25% Split, 50% Normal
  • GG = Normal Green
  • BB = Visual Blue
  • BG = Blue Split

Olive parrotlets are also known as “dark factor green” and actually have brown mixed in with the dark green. Although not a very impressive mutation on it own, with olive, colors such as cobalt and violet can be developed.

Cobalt is a very deep, dark navy blue which is much darker than the original blue. Although dark when young, these birds continue to develop darker, richer color as time passes. This mutation may be the first dominent mutation in parrotlets but it has yet to be proven.


The American white was again developed by Dr. Rainer Erhart and is a beautiful white bird with dark eyes. The dark blue wings, rump, backs and eye streaks are very prominent on this parrotlet which makes the males very stunning birds. A white is produced by breeding a blue to an American yellow, referred to as a double-split, and breeding that bird to another unrelated double-split (blue to American yellow).

smalbinoAlbino is the only parrotlet which cannot be visually sexed. This all-white bird is a true albino with red eyes, pink legs, feet and beak. This parrotlet is also from a double-split pairing using lutino and blue instead of American yellow and blue.

Breeding unrelated double-splits, using yellow and blue, is as follows:

  • 6.25% GG
  • 12.50% BG
  • 12.50% YG
  • 25.00% GYBW
  • 6.25% BB
  • 12.50% BW
  • 12.50% YW
  • 6.25% YY
  • 6.25% WW
  • GG = Normal Green
  • BB = Visual Blue
  • YY = Visual Yellow
  • WW = Visual White
  • BG = Blue Split
  • YG = Yellow Split
  • BW = Blue Split to White
  • YW = Yellow Split to White
  • GYBW = Green Split to Yellow, Blue and White

It is terribly exciting to be able to work with these gorgeous new Pacifics. Unlike most rare parrotlets, color mutations are available for the pet market. Although their prices are high at the moment, they will become more obtainable as more people breed them. Whether breeding parrotlets for the pet market or trying to establish new colors, Pacific parrotlet mutations have a lot to offer – even with their tiny size!

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