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Pied cockatielsr


Pied Cockatiels

The Pied Cockatiels gene has the effect of disrupting the placement of body colour pigments in a random pattern. The pattern can vary greatly from bird to bird and also the amount of pattern will differ greatly also. One mistake people make when describing a pied cockatiel is to think that the pied area is the grey or main body colour. This is in fact incorrect. The pied gene takes away the main body colour so it is actually the yellow or white areas that are the result of the pied genes actions.

 A light pied bird would thus have a larger amount of the normal body colour and less white or yellow. By normal I mean the original body colour that the pied has acted upon..ie a cinnamon pied would have cinnamon as it's body colour. A heavy pied would thus be a bird with lots of pied areas..ie. yellow or white, and less of the normal body colour.


Cinnamon Heavy Pied cockThese 2 pictures show the difference between Heavy Pied Cockatiels (left) and

Light Pied Cockatiels (below). Technically speaking, a light pied bird should have 25% pied and 75% body colour and a heavy pied should show 25% body colour and 75%pied colour. Naturally in a whiteface bird the pied colour would be white instead of yellow. Ideally a perfect specimen would have 25% body colour with an even pattern to the markings and an absence of body colour from the face, tail and flights. Birds with dark feathers on the face are called 'dirty-face' pieds.


Young Pastelface Light Pied Cock

As well as light and heavy pieds you will also hear the term 'reverse' pied and 'clear' pied. A 'reverse' pied is one that has very little dark or body colour and is mostly yellow or white. A 'clear' pied is one in which the pied gene has effectively prevented all melanin from being deposited in the feathers and thus looks like a lutino bird or whiteface lutino depending which we are referring to. The distinguishing feature between these 2 colours and a clear pied will be the eye colour. A pied bird that would normally have dark eyes with it's normal body colour will still have dark eyes. The pied gene does not change eye colour. So a clear cinnamon pied will be a yellow bird with normal eyes for a cinnamon whereas a lutino would be yellow with red eyes.

Whiteface Platinum Pearl Pied hen                       Pastelface Pied cock                        Young Whiteface Cinnamon pearl Pied hen

Having explained the action of the pied gene on the normal coloured bird and the correct naming of it we must now move on to another visual aspect the pied gene effects.

The Pied Cockatiels gene is what is referred to as Recessive ADM...or Recessive Anti-Dimorphism. Don't panic about this description as it is relatively easy to understand. Anti-dimorphism basically means that the normal visual characteristics that are used to tell the difference between hens and cock birds no longer exist. For example the yellow face on a normal coloured bird would usually denote the bird is a male. In an ADM pied bird the yellow face could be a hen. Also the tail barring and wingspots on hens in normal birds can be found on pied cock birds. Naturally when I say yellow I am referring to non-whiteface birds as in whiteface birds the colour would be white.

Platinum Whiteface Pied henWhiteface Pied cock birdHere is an example of the lack of distinguishing features between cocks and hens. Both are whiteface pied birds and both have the white face that normally would denote a cock bird. The bird on the left however is a whiteface platinum pied hen and the one on the right is a whiteface pied cock. Just looking at the two pictures it is impossible to determine the sex.

A pied bird can be determined from as young as pin feather stage. The pins on the crest will always appear yellow or white and not the normal body colour of the bird.

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Genetics & Heredity

The pied gene is a recessive mutation. This means that one single gene on it's own will not create a pied bird.  A bird must receive a pied gene from it's mother and father to be a visual pied. Keep in mind that all genes are found on a birds chromosomes and each chromosome comes in a pair. Each gene has a set position on a chromosome where it resides and if the gene isn't present in that position a normal or wild-type gene fills the spot. To create the visual appearance these 2 genes both have their say. If it has only one pied gene then on the position where a pied gene would sit on it's partner chromosome there would be a wild-type or normal gene. Because the normal gene is a dominant gene it would prevent the single pied gene from being visible and thus the bird would be split to pied. However if a pied gene is present on both then the pied effect will be visible as no wild-type gene is present to dominate over the pied.

However by now some of you will be saying "but my bird is split pied and I can see patches of colour on the back of it's head". Yes it is true! A bird that has only one pied gene and thus called 'heterozygous' can display pied markings. In the 'heterozygous' state in other recessive mutations, the bird would usually be a normal colour and show no signs of that particular recessive mutation being present. With pied however, this is not the case. Some birds, but not all, that are only split will show markings such as patching on the head, or a pink toenail or stripe on the beak where it would normally be dark. This often leads to the thought that maybe the pied gene is actually dominant. However to call a gene dominant it must be visual 100% of the time in all heterozygous or split birds. As this isn't the case with the pied gene, ie some split pied birds show no visual evidence of pied being present, experts feel it is safer to keep the inheritance mode as recessive until it can be proven otherwise. Regardless of what ends up being proven there can be no denying that there are some stunning combinations and variations available in the Pied.

Pastelface Cinnamon Pearl Heavy Pied. Photo courtesy of G&M Cockatiels                    Cinnamon Heavy Pied pair                    Pastelface Platinum Pearl Heavy Pied cock

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