Lutinos – Making a Start

If the newcomer to Lutinos wishes to specialise, I would suggest that they start by purchasing at least two or three pairs of Lutinos from one well established and successful stud.

The First Purchases

When making these first purchases don’t expect to buy a champion’s best visual birds, remember he/she has probably spent many years of time, effort and money building up the stud to its present standard.

What perhaps you should look for, are those which I call stock birds. These birds will, with luck, be closely related to the seller’s show team. They will show good features but also have some faults. Look on these birds as being like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle – your job is to put these pieces together to make the finished article.

Perhaps it is worth mentioning that these first purchases will form the foundation of your future stud – so the better the birds you start with, the fewer the faults you will have to improve.

I would suggest that you don’t buy all fine feathered birds – try to obtain one or two that are coarser feathered, even if they are of a paler colour. Look also for good head quality – this I consider to be the most difficult feature to establish and maintain.

The First Few Breeding Seasons

These first purchases will form the basis for your new stud and, because the birds are likely to have common backgrounds, after the first breeding season you should have a few birds that are better than those you started with.

My suggestion would then be to select the best three or four young hens – consider their strengths and weaknesses, then go back to the original breeder and try to purchase two cock birds that are very strong in one or two of the areas where the hens are weak.

Don’t be tempted to buy birds that are just a bit better overall than the hens you have.

What you are looking to do, is to buy the features you want.

For these two cocks I suggest that you would expect to pay at least the amount you paid for the first two or three pairs.

The cocks should be used across all the hens.

The following breeding season, cross-pair their chicks – which should show an improvement in the features you require.

If one then carries out the same procedure, trying to improve any other faults, gradually the standard of one’s birds should improve.

Progress to me is all about selection and it’s no good just pairing two birds together with no purpose in mind.

Mixing it with Normals

When visiting most top UK shows it is obvious that even most of the best Lutinos are some way behind the top “Normals” with regards to size, feather and head quality – so at some point I consider it would be wise for the Lutino breeder to ‘dip’ into the Normal.

However, my view is that it’s pointless doing this unless your Lutinos are already of a pretty high standard.

Bear in mind, when one does this one should be using top quality Normals, excelling once again in the features you require.

It’s worth bearing in mind that these pairings may not be the perfect answer – because many times, not only does the Normal bring in the good features you require, but they can also bring in faults such as wing markings and green suffusion – so beware!

The challenge for the Lutino breeder, is to produce birds that are equal to the Normal in stature, but also have the deep buttercup yellow colour that the variety is all about. This is no easy task to produce this type of bird in numbers.

Defining the Lutino

I have described below some of my thoughts on what a Lutino is – and some of the faults that occur – which may be of help.

One tip, that may be useful, is if one avoids pairing two light shade birds together – one will always produce some offspring with a satisfactory depth of colour. Light shade to light shade always means pale youngsters.

The Lutino is the Albino form of any green series bird. The fact that the Albinoism generally hides the variety involved, means that the bird should appear “clear coloured yellow”.

The shade of yellow will be either – light, medium or dark because the bird will carry either:

  • No dark factor – light
  • One dark factor – medium
  • Two dark factors – dark

This would equate in normal green series birds as follows:

  • No dark factor – light green
  • One dark factor – dark green
  • Two dark factors – olive green

The actual colour will be the background yellow colour of the individual bird being masked and would, therefore, match the colour of the mask, wing feather edges, background colour on nape of head – all green colour and black pigmentation having been taken away by the Albinoism.

There will be no totally white feathers on the bird apart from the cheek patches.

The only other things that I believe affects the colour of the Lutino are:

  • By adding the grey factor, one would produce a dull version of the yellow
  • A fine feathered bird gives the impression of being a better colour than a coarse feathered bird
  • The light in which the bird is viewed can also affect the appearance of the colour

Faults in the Lutino

Faults from a variety point of view are:

  • Markings of any sort anywhere on the bird -this includes Cinnamon markings and throat spots
  • Violet cheek patches
  • Green suffusion – this can vary depending on the light type in which the bird is viewed

In my opinion, birds displaying these faults should be penalised very severely – even if the budgerigar content is good – because they are breaking away from the whole point – that the Lutino should be a clear bird.

I would point out that the above views are based on my experiences and in no way would I pretend to be an expert.


The author wishes to thank Terry Tuxford and Ghalib Al-Nasser for the use of their photographs in this article.

Click on any image to enlarge it.



Filed Under: BreedingProfiles



About the Author: Ian started keeping budgerigars in 1960 - at the time he was still a youngster living at home - and had previously kept a few pigeons, which his father disliked. Ian's father had earlier been a well known canary and British bird fancier and when Ian's pigeons failed to return home one day, his father very quickly presented him with a pair of budgerigars. For a year or two Ian kept mixed colours and bred them together in an aviary, but, on the advice of his father, he decided to specialise as he only had a very small birdroom. Perhaps the idea of keeping Lutinos came subconsciously from the fact that, as already mentioned, his father had previously kept canaries. However, Ian can remember in the early days being mesmerised by the quality of Miss Kirkby-Mason's birds. The senior members at his local Cage Bird Society at the time thought he was mad and told him that he would never be successful and win anything with Lutinos. His ambition was to form a stud of quality Lutinos and to one day win Best in Show at the BS World Show with one. Ian is now retired and, some 50 years later, is still trying!

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  1. Thank you very much for this wonderful article and comprehensive guidelines for making a start in Lutinos.

    Habib Ur Rehman, Pakistan

  2. Jim Fleeker says:


    Thank you for sharing your experience and advice with Lutinos.

    I have been searching for all the information I can find on this beautiful color variety.

    Jim Fleekr, Texas, USA

  3. Adrian Proud says:

    A very interesting article.

    Thanks for shairing,

    Adrian Proud, UK

  4. John Wanless says:

    What a great article, excellent advice and stunning photographs.

    John Wanless, UK

  5. Ben Anderson says:

    Hello Ian,

    Superb article, and “stunning” Lutinos in those photographs.

    Will take on your advice, there is no doubt, you must be one of the leading Lutino breeders in the UK.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Ben Anderson, UK

  6. Steve Brain says:

    Great article.

    I am just starting out with lutinos and am doing ok in the beginners class with a young bird.

    So that’s encouraging – but I think that I do need a pair from a top breeder to move me on.

    I have taken on board your advice.

    Thanks again,
    Steve Brain, UK
    (Beginner BS no B7262)

  7. Ben Anderson says:

    Hello Ian,

    I have obtained some Lutinos, that are 2011 Rung Birds, from what I consider to be from an established blood line.

    I have heard it said that Lutinos take that bit longer to mature / develop than the other varieties – do you agree?

    What is the average age for them to reach their full potential?

    Thanks for any advice.
    Ben Anderson, UK

  8. Ben Anderson says:

    Hello Ian,

    Thank you so very much for the telephone call.

    You have explained perfectly to me the question that I asked: Lutinos can take that bit longer to reach their full potential – and it could take up to 15 months.

    May I also mention that it was a pleasure having that chat with you on Lutinos, I have indeed gained
    some further knowledge this day.

    Ben Anderson

  9. Konrad says:

    Thank you!

    Konrad, Russia

  10. Gerwyn.c.Price says:

    I am new to budgerigars and have only been keeping and breeding them for 2 seasons.

    I really do like the Lutino and being disabled – and not having full function of my hands – means the Lutino is perfect for me – as I struggle when trying to despot a bird (no spots on a Lutino!).

    I have a couple now, both hens, and a normal green cock who is split ino as he has produced one of the hens. The mother is a cinnamon green.

    This article has answered a lot of questions I wanted to ask, so a very big thank you for an excellent article rich in information for a beginner.

    I do have one question:

    If I put a split ino green cock to a blue hen, could that pairing produce a white series ino?

    Gerwyn C Price, Berkshire, UK

  11. Ian Fordham says:

    Dear Gerwyn – thank you very much for your query.

    I’m not a great expert on colour expectations, but I believe the answer is no. Unless your green cock bird that you say is split for ino is also split for blue as well.

    I guess you won’t know the answer to that.

    If it were the case, you would breed a percentage of albinos (white inos) and they would be hens.

    My advice would be to try it and see……

    Ian Fordham, UK

  12. Ben Anderson says:

    Hello Ian,

    Just had to comment on my recent visit, to see your lutino stud.

    I was very impressed by the quality of your birds and it was a pleasure meeting you at last.

    It was over a 1000 mile round trip for me, but it was worth every mile to see such outstanding lutinos.

    Ben Anderson, UK

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