(This article first appeared in the Newcastle Budgerigar Club Bulletin in 1986. It looks at this variety from an Australian point of view. Since it was written, the BSA standard has been discarded and replaced with a new Australian standard which no longer recognises shades of yellow. Changes in standard aside, the balance of the article is still relevant. The importation of English stock has meant the re-emergence of some true non-cinnamon Yellows on the show bench.)

by Ken Yorke

The term "Black-eyed Yellow" taken literally could mean any bird which is yellow in colour and has a blackeye. There are however three completely different varieties of Budgerigar which fit this loose description. They are the Double Factor Spangles, the Dark-eyed Clear (a rare type of compound Pied) and the Yellow (the subject of this article). The term "Black-eyed Yellow" should be reserved only for the latter of these three.

If you read the NSW BSA standard for the Black-eyed Yellow you could be excused for thinking that there is only one type of Black-eyed Yellow. This is not so. Just as there are different shades of Green (Light, Dark, Olive, Grey etc.) there are corresponding shades of Yellow, ie. Light Yellow, Dark Yellow, Olive Yellow, Grey Yellow etc. After all, a Light Yellow is only a Normal Light Green which has lost most of its ability to produce black pigment and also has a slightly different feather construction. For this and other reasons geneticists often prefer to call the variety by another name - Dilute.

While these differences in shade of colour may be only slight, they do nevertheless exist. The BSA standard combines all these different shades into one standard and simply states that the colour must be yellow. The National Standard on the other hand recognises the Light, Dark and Olive Yellows separately as does the English Standard.

So remember that when comparing colour between two Black-eyed Yellows, if one appears paler than the other, it may be that one has poor colour and one good colour, or you may in fact be comparing a good coloured Light Yellow with a good coloured Dark Yellow. Very few breeders and/or judges would have the expertise to go through a class of Black-eyed Yellows and grade them into their correct shades and be certain of it. (The exact same situation occurs with Lutinos.)

A very large proportion of Black-eyed Yellows in Australia are either Light Yellow or Light Grey Yellow. An even larger proportion (almost all) Black-eyed Yellows are "masking" Cinnamonwing. In fact some people call the modern Black-eyed Yellow a Cinnamon Yellow or a Cinnamonwing Yellow. This is not to be confused with the bird in the standard called a Cinnamonwing Yellow which is a totally different variety again, even though the names are the same.

This means that the modern BEY in Australia is no longer a true variety but is in fact a compound variety of Cinnamonwing and the original BEY mutation. While the original true BEY may be rare in Australia it is by no means at risk of extinction since it can be re-established at any time by removing the Cinnamonwing factor from the modern BEY. However there is little to be gained in doing this since the Cinnamonwing factor is beneficial as far as the show bird is concerned and judges are accustomed to it.

BEY's are prone to get very pale grey markings on the wings, saddle and neck. The addition of the cinnamonwing factor turns this pale grey into very pale brown which doesn't stand out as much on the yellow background, which in turn makes the bird closer to the desired standard.

As mentioned earlier there are two other different varieties of Budgerigar which have black eyes and are yellow in colour. How then do you tell the difference between these imposters and the BEY. The following are the major differences.

BEY - Tend to have pale grey markings on head, neck and wings and an even greenish tinge in body colour. Possess a white iris in the eye. Grey to Grey-pink feet. Cocks have a blue cere.

Double-factor Spangle - Rarely show any markings and are spangle markings, not Normal markings when present. Very prone to an uneven and patchy suffusion, often showing a ring around the neck. Possess a white iris in the eye. Grey feet. Cocks have blue cere.

Dark-eyed Clear - Extremely pure colour (better than Lutinos), no suffusion, no markings. No white iris. Pink feet. Cocks have flesh coloured ceres, not blue.


The Light Yellow was the first mutation of the wild normal Light Green. It has been seen in extremely small numbers in wild flocks. The Light Yellow was established in captivity in the 1870's in Belgium in an aviary which contained light suffused Yellows (the forerunner of the exhibition Yellow), heavy suffusion Yellows and what may have been some Lutino hens (which died out). Yellows reached England during the 1880's but did not reach Australia until 1900 when Mr C. H. A. Lienau, of Adelaide, South Australia imported some from England.

In early times the Light Suffusion and Dark Suffusion Yellows were shown separately.


MASK: Clear ground colour, ornamented on each side by a well-defined suffused white cheek patch.

BODY COLOUR: Black, rump, breast, flanks, wings and underparts to be a solid and even yellow throughout.

MARKINGS: Clear ground colour is the optimum. Faint neutral markings may be found on cheeks, back of head, neck and wings.

EYES: Black with white iris ring.


NOTE: Visible opaline characteristics not permissible.


The Black-eyed Yellow factor is recessive to Normal, Greywing and Clearwing, ie. a Normal, Greywing or Clearwing can be split for Yellow (or White). A Yellow cannot be split for Greywing or Clearwing. These three varieties are genetically very closely related. They are known as multiple allelomorphs. Put simply, that means that the same gene has mutated several times and resulted in several different varieties. Since genes occur in pairs, a budgerigar can only carry the factor for two of these varieties at one time.

Therefore a Normal can only be split for ONE of the following group of varieties at one time:- Greywing, Clearwing and Yellow. Similarly a Greywing can only be split for ONE of the following group of varieites at one time:= Clearwing and Yellow.

Genetic scientists have another name for the Black-eyed Yellow - Dilute - which is a less confusing term when talking genetics. Using this term a Light Yellow becomes a Light Green Dilute, Dark Yellow becomes a Dark Green Dilute etc. since the Black-eyed Yellow is the green series Dilute then the blue series Dilute is the Black-eyed White. Below are two tables for the matings of Black-eyed Yellows (and Whites). The first table relates to the original true Black-eyed Yellow or White. This table may still be valid for some Black-eyed Yellows and probably valid for a lot of Black-eyed Whites but the second table is more likely to be valid for the modern Cinnamonised Black-eyed Yellow and White.

Normal x Dilute
100% Normal/Dilute

Normal x Normal/Dilute 50% Normal
50% Normal/Dilute

Normal/Dilute x Normal/Dilute
25% Normal

50% Normal/Dilute

25% Dilute

Normal/Dilute x Dilute
50% Normal/Dilute

50% Dilute
Dilute x Dilute
100% Dilute

Normal Cock x Cinnamon Dilute* Hen
50% Normal/Cinnamon-Dilute Cocks

50% Normal/Dilute Hens
Normal Hen x Cinnamon Dilute* Cock
50% Normal/Cinnamon-Dilute Cocks

50% Cinnamon/Dilute Hens
Normal/Cinnamon - Dilute Cock x Cinnamon Dilute* Hen 12.5% Normal/Cinnamon-Dilute Cocks
12.5% Dilute/Cinnamon Cocks

12.5% Cinnamon/Dilute Cocks

12.5% Cinnamon Dilute* Cocks

12.5% Normal/Dilute Hens

12.5% Dilute Hens

12.5% Cinnamon/Dilute Hens

12.5% Cinnamon Dilute* Hens

Cinnamon Dilute* Cock x Cinnamon Dilute* Hen
50% Cinnamon Dilute* Cocks
50% Cinnamon Dilute* Hens

Note that a true Black-Eyed Yellow (Dilute) can be spotted instantly in a nest of modern BEY's (Cinnamon Dilute) during the first few days of life because the Dilute always has a black eye, but the Cinnamon Dilute has a brown eye which gradually turns black after about seven days. So unless you use some identification system (eg ring no., coloured split rings etc) you will not be able to tell the two types apart after this age.

The true Dilute will probably be dirtier in colour and markings but this is not foolproof and test mating is the only sure way to check.