Colors and Mutations
Cockatiels charm with their near to twenty color forms that are caused by mutations. What is the difference between a mutation and a color? When do we say "color" and when it is a "mutation"? This section will also introduce you every known cockatiel color.
What Are Colors?
Shortly, the cockatiel color is the color that we can see on the bird. There are several different color types of cockatiels and most of them can be combined together. The colors are distributed by their mutation inheritance in to dominants, recessives and sex-liked ones. The color can affect also other characteristics of the bird. Depending on the ennobling process, some colors may show inborn flaws, for example the bald spot of the lutino color.
How Are the Colors Born?There are only certain colors that can be found from the cockatiel plumage. When one of these colors will increase, decrease, or is mixed with another color with a certain degree, new shades are born.
Dark colors are called melanin. Melanin is divided into two parts, eumelanin and phaeomelanin. Eumelanins are black, gray and dark brown. Phaeomelanins in turn, are light brown, dirty- and corn yellow and brick red. Melanin may be found on anny feather. The more there is melanine, the darker the feather is. The white wing patch makes an exception. Each color has this white area that is ment to be an object for communication in the flock, especially when flying. This wing pattern may still have some degree of pigment, most often yellow.
The psittacine pigment is responsible for red and yellow tones. Bird produces the psittacine itself.
Cockatiel's ground color is white. The next layer is yellow. On the yellow there's the red cheek patch and the last layer is the majority of the normal gray Cockatiel's gray color cover. Red shines strongly through the gray, for example in females, but on it there's still often a greyish layer.
Cockatiel does not have the structural mutations, so they can not develop such elements of violet, dark elements, khaki, slate or misty-mutations. (Martin & Andersen, 2007)
Color is Caused by the Mutation
Sometimes something in the DNA changes. This change is called a mutation. This genetic change is permanent and it has hereditary influence for example, through the appearance or health. As a result of the mutation some of the genes is changed. In many cases, mutations that cause cancer and other unwished properties that are not inherited. These unhereditary mutations are known as somatic. If a mutation occurs, however, in germ cell, such as a sperm or egg cell, it may be transferred to the progeny.
Gene that has changed because of a mutation is called an allele. An allele is a variation of a gene. Mutations alter the properties usually for the worse, but some can be considered an asset. For example, all forms of cockatiel colors are results of mutations. Typically, the new color alleles are recessive in relation to the natural color, and therefore will never be noticed, but sometimes inbreeding happens and thus the new mutation may become visually seen. That's because if one bird has a mutation X that is a recessive allele, he may transfer it as a split to some of the chicks. If these sibling chicks that are split to X have their own clutch, about 25% of the chicks will inherit this mutation as homozygous. Thus, the new color becomes visible. Because of the same reason the inbreeding causes new inborn diseases. Every time an individual is born, there are also born some mutations. If these mutations get to germ cells and a chick gets the harmfull gene from both of the parents through inbreeding, this will result as a visual flaw.
The new color mutations are classified according to whether it is repeatable. The colors has to be transmitted at least to two next generations. If it can not be produced this way, a weird new color is just a strange occurrence.
When Do We Say Color - And When Mutation?
As explained above, the terms "mutation" and "color" have different meanings. Mutation represents a genetic change, therefore, is not really the color. The color on the other hand is not a mutation, but a result of a mutation. A Mutation refers directly to the genotype and a specific gene variant. When it comes to color, we talk about what the bird looks outward - the phenotype. Phenotype is the result of the interaction between the environment and the genotype. For example, the genes tell the color of your eyes but the fact of how tall will you grow is affected by not only the genes, but also your nutritional status, and the amount of practising sports.
Colors are increasing all the time, and sometimes it is difficult to keep up to date the most recent ones of which are for the most part, however, at the testing stage. Although a pair would have a completely black chick, this can not be read as a new color, if the color is not inheritable.
|Name in finnish||Name in english||Mutation||Symbol||Inherited|
|Keltaposki||Yellowcheek||SL Yellowcheek||Z_yc||sex-linked recessive|
|NSL lutino||Non Sex-linked lutino||NSL Ino||autosomal recessive|
|Harlekiini||Pied||Recessive Pied||dm||autosomal recessive|
|Kellanruskea||Bronze fallow||Bronze fallow||af||autosomal recessive|
|Smaragdi||Emerald||uncertain||not given?||autosomal recessive|
|Dilute||Dilute (Pastel silver)||Dilute||dil(1)||autosomal recessive|
|Hopeapaljetti||Edged dilute (Silver spangle)||Edged dilute||dil(2)||autosomal recessive|
|Dominoiva hopea||Dominant Edged (Dominant silver)||Dominant dilute||DD||dominant|
Last updated: 25.01.2010