by Clive Wakeman

The violet mutation in budgerigars is in my opinion the most beautiful colour produced so far and definitely one of the most challenging to try to improve for exhibition purposes. Many people have given up with them because they can be difficult to produce in any numbers, especially with the sort of quality that we are striving for these days. I am of course talking about the visual form of violet that is so striking in colour with its unique luster and brilliance which is actually cobalt with an extra dark factor. This violet factor influences all other colours in a different way than other colours do. For instance pair a pure green to a pure blue and we will breed all visual greens, split blue or green birds capable of producing blue birds in future pairings. No birds are split violet, they are either violet or not. They can be visual violet, violet blues or violet greens etc and this is what seems to confuse the issue. The trouble is that a violet green looks like a dark green and a violet sky blue looks like a cobalt and then if you bear in mind that opaline and cinnamon act as colour modifiers anyway, it can become increasingly difficult to truly identify certain birds properly or to be sure that a particular bird is carrying the violet factor. So accurate breeding records and the correct parentage of fostered chicks in the breeding pen is an absolute must in the quest for visual violet reproduction.

The best way to go about producing violets from scratch is to buy a visual violet bird and pair it to a partner that has had a violet parent, particularly a blue series bird, sky-blue, cobalt or mauve. Great use can be made of violet dark greens if they are available, or even a good ordinary dark green (split blue) but try to avoid if possible the cinnamon and opaline factors because either will have the effect of dulling the colour which is of course the real beauty of the bird we are trying to produce. Having said that, there is no reason at all for not introducing the violet factor into clearwings, dominant or recessive pies, spangles or crests. The contrast of a white wing or the white variegation against the rich violet hue is a truly exquisite combination of colours being shown off at their best. I have been breeding violets now for 36 years and still think they are the most outstanding and striking colour mutation of all. These days my most common pairing is violet to cobalt. Which is the cock and which is the hen makes no difference. When I first started violet to mauve was my favorite pairing but for some unknown reason I do not produce many mauves these days. The sex of the bird makes no difference at all in breeding violets. In the past I used grey greens and even a good grey at odd times to improve size and or head but proceed with caution as these two colours also have a dulling effect on violet. The main problem with violet production always seems to be that the cobalts and skys in the same nest are nearly always better birds. The violets and mauves seem to be the lesser quality youngsters. This may be something to do with that extra dark factor again. Anyway who was saying it was easy?

The whole point is that to produce good birds is not easy, to produce good violets with size, head, shape and the right feathering whilst sill maintaining the colour is even harder, but then that it the challenge. A violet that was good enough to win a Colour Certificate at a championship show would be a great budgerigar. One capable of winning Best in Show would be a fantastic bird, the like of which I believe we have yet to see on our show benches. I hope this may tempt some of you to take up the challenge and have a go at breeding the budgerigar's most striking colour mutation.