Home » What Is A Pied Budgie? [A Complete Guide]
what does pied budgie mean?

What Is A Pied Budgie? [A Complete Guide]

Pied budgies are sought-after as their spots and patterns make them a sight to behold. Piedness in budgies is a genetic mutation that turns green budgies yellow and blue budgies white.

Piedness can be due to three mutations, each affecting where yellow and white spots appear. These turn a budgie into a dominant or Australian pied, recessive, or clearflight mutation.

Interestingly, these mutations are separate, meaning that each budgie can combine all three mutations.

Despite their complex coloring, pied budgies aren’t rare. Since two of the three genes are dominant, they’re easy to breed with the right combinations.

What Does Pied Budgie Mean?

There are about 30 different budgerigar mutations. Of these 30 mutations, 3 are the pied type. Piedness in budgies is a mutation that produces unpigmented patches on the:

  • Body
  • Head
  • Wings

This piedness makes way for the default body color of the budgie. This ground color depends on whether a budgie is a blue series or a green series budgie.

In a green series, pied spots will become yellow. In a blue series budgie, piedness will become white. This pattern is irregular and appears in different areas from one pied budgie to another.

So, piedness can vary significantly between budgies due to the many colors and mutations that a budgerigar can have, alongside the pied mutation. However, it’s mainly due to the three different types of pied mutation that a budgerigar can have.

In particular, there are three main pied mutations:

  • Australian pied
  • Recessive pied
  • Clearflight pied

Pied Budgie Meaning

Piedness often refers to two or more different colors on an animal.

In most animal species, this often appears as black and white. However, budgies with a pied mutation can’t be described as having two or more colors. Instead, piedness is a mutation that turns off the colors on some parts of an animal.

These spots are unpigmented, which means they lose color. According to Cell, a budgie can appear yellow or white. In animals with black colors, unpigmented spots become white.

how to identify a pied budgie

Pied Budgie Colors

The three pied budgie colors depend on if they’re diluted, dominant, or recessive genes.

Australian Pied

The Australian pied variety is also known as the dominant pied.

The single factor dominant pied is often characterized by having an unpigmented spot on the nape or back of the neck. This spot is sometimes called the thumbprint due to its size and shape. 

The Australian pied has a clear area on its body, devoid of pigmentation. This sometimes takes on the pattern of a band; budgies with this pattern are called banded pieds.

The Australian pied mutation is often characterized by:

  • Pink feet
  • A clear division between mask and breast
  • Large clear areas on the wings
  • White iris rings for adults

Banded Pied

The banded pied variety is a color that can appear in budgies with an Australian pied mutation. The banded pied variety refers to colors where the clear area on the chest is a band.

To create more banded pieds, owners selectively breed budgies with a sharp, clear, and symmetrical band. If a budgie has this marking, it’s a banded pied.

Double Factor

Both parents carry the dominant pied mutation in a double-factor dominant pied.

If both parents are at least single factor dominant pieds, there’s a 1 in 4 chance their offspring will be double-factor dominant pieds.

There’s not much difference between a single factor and a double factor dominant pied. Often, there are more of the characteristics of a dominant pied.

You can expect the following traits: 

  • Larger thumbprint
  • More patches of clear (color mostly in the chest and abdomen)

Recessive Pied

The recessive pied gives a budgie the highest amount of piedness.

Some recessive pied budgies can have piedness in almost all areas of their body, resulting in a budgie that’s almost entirely white or yellow.

The recessive pied is the only one of the three mutations with a recessive gene. Both the dominant pied and the clearflight pied mutations are dominant.

Recessive pieds are known for their bright colors, so the clear areas of pied budgies tend to be brighter than their normal color. However, in recessive pieds, even the normal coloring may seem brilliant.

The vibrancy of the normal color will be more obvious with some colors more so than others, such as:

  • Cobalt
  • Violet
  • Dark green

The recessive pied has been called the Danish pied or the harlequin pied. You’ll know you have a recessive pied if it’s characterized by:

  • Clear primary flight feathers
  • Clear main tail feathers
  • Pink feet
  • Black eyes
  • No iris rings
  • Pink or purple cere
  • Most will have pied patches on the back of the head
  • Pied markings on the wings, often on the edges
  • Mostly pied chest and throat, with color on the lower belly and between the legs

Dark-Eyed Clear Pied

The dark-eyed clear pied is often considered a variant of the recessive pied mutation.

This happens when a budgie has the:

  • Clearflight pied gene
  • Recessive pied gene

This can result in a budgie with dark eyes like a lutino or albino.

Clearflight Pies

Clearflight pied budgies have clear or extremely light-colored feathers. They’re perhaps the easiest to distinguish of the three pied types, as they have minimal pied markings.

However, clearflights are sometimes mistaken for the normal variety because their clear areas can distract from their other markings.

The appearance of a clearflight pied is characterized by:

  • A spot at the nape or thumbprint is always present
  • Clear primary flight feathers
  • Clear, long tail feathers

The amount of piedness present can differ from one clearflight budgie to another. However, clearflights will ideally have as much piedness in these areas as possible.

For example, a bigger thumbprint, like one that extends to the back and into the breast, is best. Alongside clear markings on the tail and flight feathers, these characteristics are sought after by breeders.

How To Identify A Pied Budgie

Start by determining the budgie’s ground color, which is blue or green.

Note that variations, like violet and dark factors, can affect the ground color. Ignore these variations, and focus on whether the budgie is of a green or a blue hue.

Then, determine if it has piedness. Remember, piedness in green-series budgies appears yellow, and piedness in blue-series budgies appears white.

Use this guide to determine a pied budgie:

  • If piedness covers most of the body, like a yellow or white, it’s a recessive pied.
  • If there’s a band of color near the mask, the chances are that you have a clearflight.
  • You probably have a dominant pied if the band is lower on the abdomen.

Pied Budgie Cere Colors

The cere is another way to differentiate one type of piedness from another.

  • Single-factor dominant pieds: Typically, all blue, rarely mottled blue/pink.
  • Double factor dominant pied: Sometimes mottled blue/pink, sometimes all blue.
  • Clearflight pied: Typically, all blue.
  • Recessive pied: Light pink/purple, from the juvenile stage to adulthood.

Difference Between Dominant And Recessive Pied

Despite sounding close in appearance, dominant and recessive pieds can easily distinguish. Recessive pieds tend to have a larger area of piedness or more clear areas.

Dominant pieds appear most pied in their lower abdomen. This clear area will be bordered on the top and bottom by the ground color, which will be green or blue.

Clearflight vs. Recessive

Some clearflights have less ideal markings, which is why they’re sometimes mistaken for recessive pieds and vice versa.

However, it’s easy to distinguish them with the presence of an iris ring. Clearflights always have the white iris ring of a budgerigar, while recessives don’t.

Clearflight vs. Australian

Some clearflights can resemble Australian or dominant pieds. While it’s harder to distinguish the two, there are still characteristics to watch out for, such as:

  • Feet color: Clearflights have normal blue-grey feet, while most dominant pieds have pink feet.
  • Clear areas on the breast: Clearflights have clear areas on the breast, usually following the mask.

Meanwhile, dominant pieds will always have a pattern or clear area lower on the abdomen bordered by a ground color on the top and bottom.

Combination Pied Budgie

A combination pied budgie is a pied budgie with more than one mutation.

The pied mutations are separate and present in different alleles. A single budgie can be dominant, recessive, and clearflight pied at the same time.

How do you know if you have a combination pied? The most reliable way is determining the genes of your budgie’s parents.

Barring that, you can breed your budgie to determine whether it passes on genes that are easier to identify in its offspring. However, if your budgie doesn’t seem to fall into just one category, consider that you might have a combination on your hands.

Dominant + Recessive

The dominant gene is perhaps the easiest pied variant to spot. Markings of a dominant gene are found in the primary flight and tail feathers, and you’ll also find clear areas on the abdomen.

The recessive gene will appear as a few markings on the entire body. That’s matched to a tendency to not have iris rings. In males, the cere is usually pink.

The most obvious appearance will be a clear band on the abdomen and no iris rings.

Dominant + Clearflight

Dominant and clearflight combination pieds increase the pied characteristics of both mutations. Also, dominant and clearflights affect different areas.

You’ll have a budgie that’s clear in areas affected by both mutations. A combination tends to make the piedness more obvious, making markings larger or more defined.

Because this combination affects different areas, the budgie has twice the piedness. That’s true compared to budgies that are only dominant or only clearflight. So, they can be similar to a recessive pied.

Determining a combination of dominant and clearflight pied can be easy. You likely have this combination if it looks like a recessive pied but has iris markings.

Clearflight + Recessive 

A combination of clearflight and recessive pied is called dark-eyed clears.

A recessive pied has an almost entirely clear budgie. When matched to a clearflight gene, you have a completely yellow or white budgie.

Dark-eyed clears can look similar to lutinos and albinos, but their dark eyes are the main distinction. Also, due to the recessive pied gene, dark-eyed clears will have no iris.

Clearflight + Dominant + Recessive

All three pied mutations exist on different alleles. So, you could technically make a budgie with all three pied mutations with the right parents.

The problem isn’t with breeding this budgie but determining if you’ve succeeded. The combination of clearflight and recessive means that you’ll have an entirely white or yellow budgie, which leaves little room for a dominant pied to be visible.

It’s hard to determine whether a budgie has all three pied mutations, but it can be done by checking if the parents could be carrying all three genes.

difference between dominant and recessive pied budgies

How To Breed A Pied Budgie

Here are some pointers to keep in mind:

Blue And White Pied Budgie

You’ll need to aim for a blue series to breed a blue and white pied budgie.

This gene is recessive, so ensure that both parents carry the blue series. Then, ensure that the parents pass on the pied gene to their offspring.

Blue Recessive Pied Budgie

You’ll need a blue ground color to breed a blue recessive pied.

To do this, you’ll need both parents to at least be a single factor recessive pied. The recessive pied mutation is a recessive gene, so both parents must carry it to appear in a chick.

Yellow Pied

A yellow pied budgie is a green series budgie with piedness.

It’s easy to get a yellow, pied budgie as the green series is the dominant variety. You’ll have a green-series budgie if one parent is a green budgie.

The same can be said for clearflight and dominant piedness, as both mutations are dominant. Both parents should carry the recessive pied gene for the recessive pied mutation.

You’ll need a budgie with a recessive pied mutation for a completely yellow budgie.

Green Pied

A green pied budgie is similar to a yellow pied.

If you want more green than yellow, aim for the dominant or clearflight genes, preferably the clearflight mutation. Avoid the recessive pied mutation.

To get a budgie like this, at least one parent should be green, and one parent should be either dominant or clearflight pied. Both mutations are dominant.

So, even if only one parent is pied, and only one parent is green, there’s still a 1 in 4 chance of them having a green pied offspring.

Are Pied Budgies Rare?

Pied budgies aren’t uncommon compared to rarer mutations, like anthracite and lacewing.

The commonness of pied budgies is mostly attributed to their popularity. The clear patches on pied budgies give them interesting patterns, which are sought after by owners and breeders.

The fact that 2 of the 3 pied mutations are dominant genes plays a role. This makes them easy to pass on, especially the clearflight and dominant pied genes. 

According to Watchird, getting a mutation fit for show-budgie standards requires significant time and effort. Therefore, breeders usually only breed certain mutations.