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by Malcolm Freemantle

Many Clearwing breeders are now getting ready to pair their birds to produce next years show stock and there is a vast chasm out there for the breeder to fall into.  The indiscriminate crossing of Clearwings with other varieties can lead to a rapid deterioration of the pure Clearwing blood.  The exhibition breeder must pay particular attention to retaining the true Clearwing colour and this means taking special care to ensure that the wing is kept as free as possible of any markings and at the same time retaining the deep body colour that is a feature of a good exhibit.

The difficulty that confronts the breeder is how to keep the substance in the bird when you are trying to improve the colour contrast.  We all know that a small Yellow-wing or Whitewing even with the best variety colouring will not win its class let alone take one of the specials.  The B.S. standard governs all judges and the points allocated for size and type outweigh those given for variety content.  I know a lot of Clearwing fanciers would like to see more emphasis placed on the variety and with more and more specialist shows taking place, perhaps the change is not too far away.

During the past show season I have seen benched several birds in the Clearwing classes that are not true Clearwings, mainly in the Whitewing section.  It is apparent that the owner has been using other varieties as outcrosses and the result is a ‘hybrid’ type that the judges are finding difficult to wrong class.  Recently I was asked to give an opinion on an exhibit that was quite clearly in the wrong class and the judge had marked it so.  The bird had been purchased as a Whitewing, but it was a Greywing from a Clearwing family, by that I mean it had not come out of Normals.

On examining the bird closely one could see the wing markings were more clearly defined than would be found in a badly marked Clearwing and the cheek flash had a good depth of blue, not violet.  The body colour was also down in colour, more than would be seen in a Greywing Normal, which suggested that it was a dilute, i.e. a White Blue.

Another bird that has been doing the rounds this year is a Whitewing Cobalt hen, in all respects it is visually a Clearwing, until you look deeper into the wing markings and they are brown.  Now if this was a Cinnamon, why does it not show some of the other Cinnamon characteristics such as pink feet or the dilution of body colour and cheek flash that clearly identifies it as a Cinnamon? Somewhere in the past another variety has been introduced into that Clearwing line and it is now reappearing in this generation.  Has the owner bred a Brownwing Clearwing, could it be the answer?

Most of us keep fairly good breeding records, but if you have brought the bird in then you may only know who the parents were and not the grandparents.  Some fanciers have been known to pair Cinnamon and Greywing together unknowingly, because of their similarity in colouring.  It is probably from this sort of indiscriminate pairing that one of the offspring has been introduced into the breeders Clearwing line and will be very difficult to eradicate.

Once this type of outcross is allowed to infiltrate your “clean” line, you will never know when it will turn up again and ‘sods law’ states that it will always be the best of the youngsters that are affected.  It has been well established that the varieties to avoid in the quest for the perfect Clearwing are; Cinnamons, Opalines and the grey factor birds.  In my years of breeding for the Ideal I have found the grey factor to be the most difficult to eradicate from the stud.  Greys have a dominant character that will gradually take over the variety and is best avoided if you are to keep the wings free of heavy markings.

Using the Cinnamon in your pairings will reduce wing markings, but at the same time it will drain the body colour.  It does not follow that cinnamon (brownish) will show on the wings – merely a dilution of the grey marking.  The basic material is of extreme importance in all your pairings if you are to achieve success.

Poor body colour can again be traced to the indiscriminate use of birds, which lack depth of colour. Many fanciers are of the opinion that if they pair their Sky’s to Cobalt, or Light Green’s to Olive they must improve the body colour of the Skyblue or Light Green.  Nothing can be further from the truth.

E.W. Brooks in his book The Development of Colour in Budgerigars writes about understanding how pigments are distributed and how the mode of distribution affects the depth of colouration.  He states, the fact must be recognised that the affect of any reducing agent depends largely upon the amount of material it has to work on and there is no greater amount of black pigment in an Olive than is found in a Light Green.

The old paint box theory of colour production will have to be discarded, because by pairing a dark factor to a light factor you will not necessarily improve the body colour of the light factor bird.  The basic material must be good to start with and any dark factor used needs to have a strong body colour for its variety, if it is to give any help to the poor body colouring of the lighter bird.   A good depth of colour in a light factor bird will do the same job for you

With the Clearwing, a deep body colour is equally of importance as freedom of markings on the wings; one without the other results in an unbalanced bird and on the exhibition bench should be marked down accordingly.  The exhibitor must make the judgement from the stock available at the time from their aviary and the overall balance in size, type and contrast should always be uppermost in their thoughts if they are to compete on the show bench.

Spend more time on selecting your breeding pairs for the coming season and really ask yourself if it is all worthwhile using those big unknown outcrosses that will cause havoc in your show team later on.  The time you now spend on pairing up could make the future of your Clearwings secure for years to come.  Test pair those outcrosses before you incorporate them into your mainstream show line, in this way they may not be wasted – most varieties have their uses and it could be their offspring that will bring you the most success.

Malcolm Freemantle is Author of the book The Art of Breeding Clearwings aocb.jpg (5539 bytes) Click on the book to order.