Suffused

Translation: Pauliina Härkönen

Aka Australian Olive, Australian emerald
Mutation: Suffused
Inheritance: Autosomal recessive
Pigment change: Dilution
Australian only!

In addition to the olive (more correctly “emerald”) mutation found in USA there is also a mutation called olive in Australia, found in the late 1990’s. The similarity of the names is because these two mutations look somewhat similar. The Australian olive is nowadays called “suffused” because of the bursts of yellow colour in the plumage. Either of these mutations shouldn’t be called olive, however, because the cockatiel isn’t able to produce the mutation in question.

Suffused means the lightest possible dilute mutation, where the melanin in the feathers reaches only 10-15%. As a dilute suffused affects the transmitting of melanin from the follicles to the feathers themselves, so the mutation affect only the plumage. The effect on melanin is of quality, not quantity – so the amount of produced melanin isn’t affected, but it doesn’t transmit to the feathers normally.

Suffused is a lively combination of a very pale grey and yellow caused by the appearance of priming, like in emerald. Yellow appears because when the amount of melanin decreases, the priming is more visible from under the grey. The goal is to get the wings and flying feathers very light in colour compared to the rest of the plumage, even though the hens remain much darker than the cocks and the cocks get their silvery appearance at their first molt. During this first molting many of the cocks also lose their darker neck that is also found from many younger birds and even some females. Both sexes have dark eyes, feet and beak like normal grey, which is a clear difference compared to emerald. Emeralds also have dark eyes but it’s feet and beak are paler. This indicates to albinism, when suffused is a form of dilute. In other words, suffused only affects the feathers and emerald affects the whole body.

Mike Anderson is known for his careful work with this mutation. When the breeding begun there were only two birds, who were also heterozygots with suffused. The starting gene pool was therefore really narrow. (Martin, 2007).

Suffused shouldn’t be combined with other melanin-affecting mutations, excluding opaline.

Gene behind the color: Suffused

Suffused is a general term in parrot genetics and it means the lightest possible dilute mutation that leaves onlu 10-15 % of the melanin to the feathers. As a dilution the suffused affects to the transition of the melanin from the feather follicle to feathers – and this means that the color affects only to plumage. The effect on melanin is a qualitative, not quantitative – meaning that melanin is not excreted any less than it normally would, but it just isn’t transmitted normally to feathers.

I have not worked with this mutation..