This article and even more information and more photographs on Saddlebacks appears in the BUDGERIGAR VARIETY BIBLE.

by Barry Ryan

The new mutation Saddleback first appeared in the Blacktown breeding room of my father, Les and myself in the 1975 breeding season.

A pair of normal skies were mated to start a new line of blue series normals. Amongst the chicks in the first round one bird started to show Opaline characteristics. More attention was paid to the bird when it was fully feathered and had left the nest. At this stage the Opaline characteristics became more evident in the head and saddle area, although the wing was distinctly different to Opaline in as much that the ground colour of the wing was white and not as expected in the Opaline. Wing markings were a bi-colour with the shoulder region being grey and merging into a black in the area of secondary and primary feathers.

Furthermore bird was a cock and could not be Opaline as we know it. Kevin Kelly, a leading budgerigar authority was consulted and he confirmed that the bird was different.

As only one of this type was produced in the 1975 season, it was decided to mate him back to his mother to reproduce its kind. From this mating four chicks were produced, two, being normals and the other two (both cocks) were the same as the father. Hens were produced in the next season. Very few outcrosses were made because of the desirability of keeping the variety as pure as possible.

In the following years Cobalt, Mauve, Light Green, Laurel (Dark Green) as well as the original sky have been produced. The variety is Recessive. Birds are said to be recessive when their colour or marking characteristics must be inherited from both parents before they are visible.

When you mate a pair of Saddlebacks together you get 100% Saddlebacks, but if you mate a Saddleback no matter whether it be cock or hen to a normal you will get 100% Normals split for Saddleback.

The Colour and Standard Committee decided to give it the name 'Saddleback' as it is supposed to resemble in some respects the saddle on a saddleback pig.

A broad description of the Saddleback as defined by Kevin Kelly follows:

The bird has Opaline characteristics in that, the saddle or V area is clearly defined, not due to any absence of markings, but by virtue of the fact that the markings in the saddle area are decidedly Grey on an otherwise normal (black marked) bird. The bird also resembles an Opaline in that the head markings are minimal but where they do appear they are also decidedly grey rather than black.

The ground colour of the wing is either White in the blue series or yellow in the green series and therefore not what we would expect to see in the Opaline variety.
The colour of wing markings could also be described as bi-colour as the markings in the shoulder region are grey and merge into a definite black in the area of the secondary and primary flight feathers.

The body colour is more intense than we could expect to see in most Greywings but not as intense as the typical normal or Opaline.

by Ken Yorke 1986

DRAFT STANDARD FOR SADDLEBACK (For discussion purposes 30/11/97)
Prepared by K Yorke

(N.B. This proposed standard was prepared at the request of the Budgerigar Rare & Specialist Exhibitors of Australia as a discussion point. It has no official standing at this time. The format of the wording is designed to be compatible with the format of other varieties in the current Australian Standard.


MASK AND SPOTS: Mask to be clear, wide and deep, (not cleft) extending beyond large cheek patches containing six large, round evenly spaced black spots. Each outer spot is partially covered by the base of the cheek patches.

GROUND COLOUR: Should extend over the back of the head into the mantle. Dark grey grizzled suffusion may appear in the ground colour on back of head and mantle..

GENERAL BODY COLOUR: Back, rump, breast, flanks and underparts to be a solid and even shade throughout.

MARKINGS: On cheeks, back of head, neck and mantle -- minimal. Wing markings approaching black, heavily grizzled with ground colour. Primary and secondary flight feathers black, clearly defined and symmetrical on appropriate ground colour.

EYES: Black with a white iris ring.

BODY COLOUR: Full intensity.

Colour Cheek Patch Tail Quill Tail Feather
LIGHT GREEN Violet Black Mid Blue with Turquoise suffusion
DARK GREEN Violet Black Dark Blue
OLIVE Violet Black Dull Blue Black
GREYGREEN Grey Black Black
SKYBLUE Violet Black Mid Blue with Turquoise suffusion
COBALT Violet Black Dark Blue
MAUVE Violet Black Very Dark Blue with Black sheen
VIOLET Violet Black Deep Royal Blue
GREY Grey Black Black

SADDLEBACK GROUP: This includes Greywing, Cinnamonwing and Yellow Face combinations with Saddleback. The standard for each of these birds is as for Saddleback modified by the requirements of each of the varieties with which it is combined.

t is recommended that the Saddleback be recognised in the Greywing, Cinnamonwing, Yellow Faced and Crested combinations. It is recommended that the Saddleback not be recognised in the Black Eye Self, Red Eye Self, Clearwing, Opaline, Lacewing, Fallow, Dominant Pied, Danish Recessive Pied, Spangle and Double Factor Spangle combinations. The Saddleback primary grouping could be inserted above Crested and below Yellow Face.