Mutations – Blackfaces & Mistys

Firstly, what is a mutation?

Generally these are harmful and are the result of a pair of genes which have become altered from different effects so that the genes have changed.

These could be deformities such as by overdosing from radiation, but in our cases the classic mutations concern colour changes and the Feather Dusters.

The Blackface

In the 1990’s in The Netherlands, I saw a few strange birds in the stud of a Mr Van Dijk.

They had black faces and he had named them as such.

They were very fertile and the parents were split for blackface. For beginners, split means they were carrying the blackface feature, but not visibly.

I noticed that many of these split blackfaces were recessive pieds.

Naturally, I asked if I could buy a few, but this was refused even though they were very small birds and badly confined into cages that prevented them flying properly.

On my return home, it crossed my mind what would happen if any disease were to affect these birds?

Regrettably this is what did happen and all were to die. I wrote to Mr Van Dijk, but he did not reply.

What I did know was the genetic background was recessive. He had started with two blue blackface cocks that he spotted in a market stall which he bought immediately. He paired them to two normal grey hens which resulted in chicks that were all greys and blues in appearance.

The following breeding season the next round of breeding revealed all normals again but with black faces and striped bodies.

Sadly this line was lost, never to re-appear.

Today, I wish I could have had a few with which to experiment and take further, but it was not to be.

Please click on an image to enlarge it.

The Misty

A few years ago fanciers began to discuss a new mutation that had appeared in one aviary. I contacted the breeder, but he was unable to give me any accurate details about these birds and their genetic background from his “records”.

However, he did give me some photographs. Looking at them, it was difficult at first to understand what we were dealing with? Was it a mutation or not?

The fancier concerned was a Mr De Geest, so I bought a few of these birds this time to test breed with them.

Basically these birds possessed a 25% colour reduction on their feathering, so they were named “Mistys” from the start. This terminology is already used in some species of parrots.

I established that the Misty mutation is what is called an “incomplete-dominant factor” and shows itself in single and double factor forms.

It is difficult to see the difference between the single factor Mistys and the normal birds, but the cheek patch of the Misty variety is far darker.

Combined with cinnamon, the legs are also darker from a normal cinnamon. In the case of the Double Factor Misty, the body colour also lightens.

In conclusion, I believe that only the Double Factor Misty would be considered for the show bench – as we do with the Anthracite Budgerigars (also a mutation).


From the wing photograph below (click to enlarge it), we can see clearly the difference between a Misty Skyblue (left) and a Normal Skyblue (right). The wing feathers are darker in the Normal variety.

In the other photographs, we can see the differences between the Normal, Single Factor and Double Factor Misty examples. Such Misty birds can be paired in all colours but it is not advised that the cinnamon factor is involved.


Misty Pairings

SF = Single Factor; DF = Double Factor

  1. Misty SF x Normal = 50% Normal + 50% Misty
  2. Misty SF x Misty SF = 25% Normal + 50% SF + 25% DF
  3. Misty DF x Normal = 100% Misty SF
  4. Misty DF x Misty SF = 50% Misty SF + 50% DF
  5. Misty DF x Misty DF =100% Misty DF



Filed Under: BeginnersBreeding



About the Author: Didier Mervilde is a leading Belgian Specialist in the Rare Varieties. He began the hobby in 1986 following a visit to Gerald Binks and later became a judge in his own right and a member of several of the main societies in his country and the WBO. He is a regular contributor and writer for many magazines including the German Wellensittich Magazin and Budgerigar World Magazine. He now also writes for .

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  1. Dean F says:

    Such a shame the blackface suffered the fate it did.

    What a beautiful mutation, which I am certain in the right hands could have seen some extremely beautiful birds to behold and some very interesting combination varieties!

    New Zealand

  2. Wonderful blackface & misty budgerigars and crazy hobby.


  3. Shame about the Blackfaces.

    But I wonder if I maybe have something that have some similarities to the Blackfaces – 2 hens born in December 2010 from a Grey-wing violet cock / recessive pied and a recessive pied hen in yellowface sky blue.

    I thought one of the chickens was opaline at first, but there is some thing that is “wrong”.

    Here are the photographs:


    Lilliot Rønning,

  4. Hi Lilliot,

    Sorry for the late reply, but as I see the pictures it is not the same form of “blackfaces” that I saw in the Netherlands.

    The only thing you can do is breed with it and see what the outcome is.

    If possible, please keep us informed.

    I wish you all success.

    Didier Mervilde

  5. Didier,

    I’m truly willing to understand about the ‘black face’ budgerigars.

    Could you therefore give us a few guidelines on the colour standard here – in particular, can you define more about:

    1. General body colour
    2. Mask
    3. Marking (Marking on entire body is needed or exempted as I’m viewing in the sky blue 1st bird )
    4. Cere, beak and eyes.
    5. Cheek Patches.
    6. Primary Wing Feathers.
    7. Primary Tail Feathers
    8. Leg & Feet

    Also, can you explain ‘dirty head’ and ‘born black head’ or ‘black cap’ with jet black face. I was asked similar questions in a judging training session in 2009, but I could not answer.

    Thank you.
    Habib Ur Rehman – Pakistan

  6. Hi Habib,

    Just now I saw your questions.

    As you can see in the photos on my website, the undulation is all over the body and striped. It has the same effect as you can see on Lori’s (Parrot).

    The white or yellow mask as we know by normal budgerigars is replaced by the basic color and a black mask.

    The body color is also darker than normals. We have the same effect with Anthracite. The wing and tail feathers are also darker.

    Regarding “dirty head ” – I will write an article as soon as possible and I put it on my website.

    Didier Mervilde, Belgium

  7. Dear Didier

    Thank you very much for explanation.

    I shall wait for your article on ‘Dirty Head’.

    Best Regards
    Habib Ur Rehman, Pakistan

  8. Dear Didier,

    Thank you very much for your analytical comparative study and I hope your latest article will help us in the understanding of Flecking, Coalface and Black-faced Budgerigars.

    I am glad to see the budgerigars of Lilliot Ronning and hope one day that I too will breed the Coalface & Black Face varieties.

    Sharing Link:

    In my humble opinion, the hobby needs more research instead of shows.

    Thanks also go to Gerald Bink’s website – otherwise who would listen and why?

    Kindest Regards
    Habib Ur Rehman, Pakistan

  9. Dear Habib,

    Thank you for your kind words. I just do my best and try to give some useful information.


    Didier Mervilde, Belgium

  10. Thank you Didier for including my two budgies in your documents.

    I’m looking forward to seeing what my two hens will breed this winter. I will keep you all updated but I do not think I will get blackfaces in the first generation.

    The parents to my two hens will be paired with other mates next time and possibly later on I will take the offspring from them and rebreed them with halfsiblings in the 2012-2013 breeding seeson.

    (Mrs) Lilliot Ronning, Norway

  11. Marco Acevedo says:


    I live in Mexico and I have a budgerigar forum:

    On the forum there is a thread with pictures of Black-winged budgerigars from Venezuela:

    Marco Acevedo, Mexico

  12. Hello Marco,

    Do you have more information about those Black-winged budgerigars ?

    Didier Mervilde, Belgium

  13. Kelli says:

    I was curious how rare the “Misty” mutation is, and would it be found in the U.S.?

    I have a sky blue male who looks identical to the one you’re using in the article.

    I thought he was just a lightly marked cinnamon because he does give me cinnamon hens, but even their markings are darker than his. However, his markings and body color are extremely light compared to normal sky blues and he’s even lighter than a cinnamon sky blue.

    Indiana, USA

  14. Thank you very much Didier for special article on Coalface Part 2

    Didier website update on blackwing

    Kindest Regards
    Habib Ur Rehman,Pakistan

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