Unlike the bright and solid colors of the common budgerigar (shell parakeet), rainbow budgies have softer colors, one slowly melting into the other.
Rainbow budgies combine the blue, yellowface, opaline, and clearwing mutations. There’s even the rainbow spangle budgie, which swaps the elusive clearwing mutation with the spangle mutation.
Also, there are pastel budgies that combine more subtle colors.
Rainbow budgies are in high demand, meaning there’s no shortage of breeders. You’ll pay $35-$90 for a rainbow budgie, and you can even breed rainbow budgies at home if you have the right pairing.
How To Identify Rainbow Budgies
The name ‘rainbow budgie’ refers to budgerigars with a coloration reminiscent of a rainbow.
They’re colorful, but not in the same way as most budgies. Instead, their shades melt into each other, much like a watercolor.
Pale yellows that become blue, then become white. Pinks become purple, then become grey. Unlike the standard budgie colors, with bright, loud colors, rainbow budgie colors are far more subtle.
Because they have a combination of different mutations, no two budgies look the same.
However, most have the following traits:
- Body color: A full body color of blue, sky, cobalt, or mauve. Budgies with darker factor genes, like violet, will be diluted.
- Head and mask: Yellow or golden-yellow, deepening into a green that blends into the body’s color.
- Cheek: Medium to deep purple.
- Eye color: Black with white iris.
- Cere: In males, medium to deep blue. In females, light blue or white, to tan.
- Unique markings: The opaline ‘V’ pattern is a blue mantle.
- Wings: These will be off-white with opalescent blue, green, and yellow marks.
- Flight feathers: Pale grey.
- Tail feathers: Deep body color; lighter areas, like shorter tail feathers, are flushed yellow.
- Feet and legs: Blue, dark factor gene results in grey.
Rainbow Budgie Genetics
Due to their colorful features and considerable popularity, the term ‘rainbow budgie’ refers to a bird that isn’t genetically a rainbow budgie.
Some owners call their budgies rainbow budgies if it resembles one. However, ‘rainbow’ concerns more than just the visual coloration of the budgie.
In scientific terms, a rainbow budgie has four specific gene mutations. When combined, these mutations create what we know as the rainbow budgie. These include the following:
Captive budgerigars are often split into three main categories.
There are blue-series budgies and green-series budgies. Despite their distinction, blue-series budgies are just blue due to a mutation. How does this blue mutation occur?
According to Cell, it’s due to an enzyme that gives a budgerigar its yellow pigment. A blue mutation means that this pigment is removed, so the hue of a blue series still depends on its green color.
In a rainbow budgerigar, the blue mutation gives it a blue-ish shade. The exact hue will depend on the variety of green that the budgie would have had if not for the blue mutation.
After all, the blue will still depend on a budgie’s ground color, which is always green.
The clearwing is a diluting mutation. With a clearwing mutation, a budgie’s body color will be diluted by up to 10%. This dilution will be found all over the body, giving a budgie its pale, pastel shade.
There are other variants of the clearwing mutation, namely the greywing and dilute. However, these variations are not viable for creating rainbow budgies.
The yellowface mutation provides the rainbow budgie with its yellow face and mask. Also, in the yellowface 2 and goldenface variants, a budgerigar can take on a blue-green hue.
There are three variations to the yellowface mutation, including the following:
- Yellowface 1 (mutant 1)
- Yellowface 2 (mutant 2)
The yellowface 2 variant is the most popular for creating a rainbow budgie because yellowface 2 changes the blue slightly and isn’t as overpowering as the goldenface variant.
However, all variants are accepted in show budgies.
The opaline mutation is responsible for the soft graduation of colors.
The opaline’s effects will be more diluted than the usual opaline because it interacts with the clearwing mutation, reducing the colors even more.
The opaline mutation is characterized by the following:
- Striations on top of the head down to between the wings are reduced in color.
- Cap extends further back over the top of the head, becoming the body color, forming a v-shape between the wings.
- The ends of the wing are body color, not ground color.
- Black pigments of feathers are reduced.
- Wing butts can be completely clear, creating the thumbprint.
- Clear bands on the wing, tail, and flight feathers are much broader than the wild type.
- It has a brighter body color due to reduced melanin in barbules and contour feathers.
Rainbow Budgie Variations
Most variations in rainbow budgies come from the yellowface mutation.
However, you can have variations from factors outside of these four mutations. The most common are found with additional dark factors, including the violet factor.
Pastel Rainbow Budgie
Sometimes, a rainbow budgie is referred to as a pastel rainbow budgie.
Unlike the spangle rainbow term, ‘pastel rainbow’ doesn’t refer to any mutation found in the budgie. If a budgie looks pastel, it’s a pastel budgie.
Pastel refers to the lighter, less saturated color of the budgie’s feathers. This lighter coloration is visually stunning compared to the usual bright coloration of other budgerigars.
Many people consider rainbow budgies pastel because of their light, diluted color. However, some rainbow budgies are more pastel than others.
Pastel shades are often due to mutations that create diluted colors. One of the main ways you can do that is by having a mauve body color.
This can be achieved by taking the usual rainbow budgie and adding two dark factor genes. Alternatively, you can ensure that both parents carry the dilute mutation.
Rainbow Spangle Budgie
The rainbow spangle budgie is created by swapping the clearwing mutation for the spangle mutation.
That’s because the clearwing mutation is comparatively rare, so breeders struggle to breed rainbows. So, by swapping the clearwing for the spangle mutation, breeders can create budgies that look like rainbow budgies much easier.
However, rainbow spangle budgies are considered separate from true rainbows. Organizations will only consider ‘true’ or ‘classic’ rainbows as real rainbows and won’t consider others.
The spangle mutation can create similar budgies to true or classic rainbows. Spangle rainbows are a good choice if you don’t need a show budgie, as they’re easier to breed.
Rainbow spangles aren’t allowed to be shown as rainbow budgies.
How To Identify Sprangle Rainbow Budgies
The spangle mutation changes the markings on the wings, throat spots, and tail feathers. It’s characterized by the following:
- The wing feathers have a black edge with a yellow or white center.
- Any throat spots are partially or entirely missing. When present, they’re yellow or white.
- Tail feathers can have a thin line near the edge or be plain white or yellow.
The double factor spangle creates a pure yellow or white budgie with a slightly diluted color.
Distinguishing the rainbow spangle from true rainbows can be easy. Most spangles have a black lining on the tail and wing feathers. Even without this lining, it’s simple to identify the spangle pattern.
Things get more difficult with double factor spangles; a double factor spangle is rarely as diluted as an opaline mutation. Nonetheless, it can be hard to tell them apart from a true rainbow.
How To Produce Rainbow Budgies
To produce a true or classic rainbow budgie, you’ll need to understand whether each mutation is:
This will determine what genes the parents need to create a rainbow budgie.
Clearwing is a recessive trait, which means that both parents must carry the clearwing trait. They can be visibly clearwing or split for clearwing.
Likewise, opaline is a recessive trait. Opaline is also a sex-linked mutation, meaning the female should be visibly opaline. However, the male can be visibly opaline or split for opaline.
Blue is recessive, so both parents must be blue or split for blue.
Yellowface, no matter the variation, is recessive.
Both parents need to have the yellowface gene to show in their offspring. Any yellowface variation is dominant to the goldenface variation, but all three are recessive to the wild type.
To create a rainbow budgie, you’ll need the following:
- Both parents need to be clearwing or split for clearwing
- Male needs to be opaline or split for opaline
- Both need to be blue or split for blue
- At least one should be visibly yellowface
Some possible pairings are as follows:
|Yellowface, clearwing, opaline blue split for green||Clearwing blue split for green|
|Opaline, clearwing blue||Yellowface, clearwing blue split for green|
|Yellowface, opaline blue||Blue, split for clearwing|
How To Breed A Rainbow Spangle
Your budgies must meet the following criteria to breed a rainbow spangle:
- At least one parent should be visibly spangled.
- Male needs to be opaline or split for opaline.
- Both budgies need to be blue or split for blue.
- At least one parent should be visibly yellowface.
Are Rainbow Budgies Rare?
Rainbow budgies aren’t rare compared to the lacewing, fallow, and saddleback.
The lack of rarity of rainbow budgies is because they’re sought-after. The high demand means more breeders are willing to spend time and effort breeding these colorful variations.
Nonetheless, that doesn’t make it less hard to breed rainbows. After all, you’ll need four mutations, two of which are recessive and one sex-linked. According to Watchbird, breeding a budgie to show standards takes considerable time and effort.
How Much Is A Rainbow Budgie?
The average price of a rainbow budgie is $30 to $90.
The cost of a rainbow budgie varies, depending on if you buy it from a pet store or breeder. Likewise, the price can change if the budgie is already hand-tamed or mostly raised with other budgies.
The budgie’s age, color, and rarity of that coloring affect the price. Nonetheless, you should budget around $50 for an average rainbow budgie and $100+ for exotic rainbow budgie colorings.