These articles and even more information and more photographs on Pieds appears in the BUDGERIGAR VARIETY BIBLE.


Know Your Pieds

by Ken Yorke

(This article was originally published in the
Newcastle Budgerigar Bulletin in 1987.)

There are three basic types of Pieds in the world today i.e., Australian, Danish and Dutch. The first two being extremely common and the latter less common. Within these three basic groups there can be subgroups. Subgroups of the Australian Pied are Variegated, Clearflighted and Banded. Subgroups of the Dutch Pied are Variegated and Clearflighted (sometimes called Continental Clearflights).

The main aim of this article is to give the novice breeder some guidelines on how to identify these different varieties. I do not intend to mention any detailed breeding information or techniques about these varieties since
I do not class myself as a specialist in them, although I do breed all three.

Let us first look at the Danish Pied (also known as Harlequin). This is the easiest of the three varieties to identify and the method is foolproof in adult birds. The Danish Pied is the only variety (with the exception of the English Fallow, which isn't available in this country anymore) which doesn't have a white iris ring in the eye. Even white the Danish Pied is combined with the red-eyed varieties such as Ino, Lacewing or Australian Fallow it still lacks the white iris ring. Other things to look for which can reinforce its identity are:

1) the feet - almost always pink.
2) the cere - cocks have flesh coloured ceres.
3) the beak - bright orange.
4) wing markings - mostly grizzled with some normal and clear. Usually scattered.
5) breeding - Recessive. It is possible to get them from a pair of visually normal birds.

The area of wing markings deserves a more detailed explanation since it is the area that very few people realise can be important. The individual feathers which make up the wing pattern of a Pied can be either completely normal, completely clear or a sort of smudgy pattern half-way between, called grizzled. The distribution of these types of feathers throughout the wing can vary. In some cases they are randomly scattered and in others each type is grouped together.

Looking next at the Australian Pied its characteristics are summarized as follows:

1) Eyes - always have white iris.
2) Feet - Pink or Grey or combination of both.
3) Cere - cocks have blue cere.
4) Beak - varies between almost normal and orange, but usually not as bright as the Danish Pied.
5) Wing Markings - a) Clearflighted - Clear flights, Normal elsewhere, Grizzled is uncommon, Grouped.
b) Variegated - Normal and Clear. Grizzled is uncommon. Usually scattered.
c) Banded - either (a) or (b), preferably (a).
6) Body Markings - a) Clearflighted - preferably none.
b) Variegated - scattered patches.
c) Banded - ideally a single 12mm band across chest.
7) Breeding - Dominant. You have to have one in order to breed one. Cannot produce Dark-Eyed Clears.

Thirdly, lets look at the Dutch Pied. If I had written this article five years ago I would probably have finished here since the total number of Dutch Pieds in our area would have been counted on two hands and were not available to general novice breeders. However in 1985 I "imported" some Dark Eyed Clears and Dutch Pieds from Queensland on behalf of the late Joe Wilmott and myself. Just before his recent death Joe sold off some of his stock and I have noticed some of these birds and their progeny becoming more widespread in local aviaries and therefore I will include them in this article.

Apart from test matings, I do not know of any foolproof way to tell Australian Pieds from Dutch Pieds, however there are some guidelines which can help.

1) Eyes - always have white iris.
2) Feet - grey or pink.
3) Cere - cocks have blue cere.
4) Beak - usually brighter than normal up to orange.
5) Wing Markings - a) Clearflighted - Clear flights, normal elsewhere with grizzled feathers very common.
b) Variegated - Grizzled with some normal and clear. Usually scattered. The black markings are slightly less intense than Australian Pieds probably because of the grizzled tendencies.
6) Body Markings - a) Clearflighted - preferably none.
b) Variegated - scattered patches.

Body colour is sometimes slightly paler than Australian Pieds

Hens have a trait of being badly marked compared with cocks in both body and wings. From personal experience this trait is even worse when combined with either Opaline or Cinnamonwing. This may be coincidence or may be due to some genetic or hormonal reason.

7) Head Patch - almost always present and often larger than Australian Pieds
8) Breeding - Dominant. You have to have one in order to breed one. Can produce Dark Eyed Clears.

I mentioned earlier that test mating is a method to tell Australian and Dutch Pieds apart, but the method required a minimum of two seasons to get the answer. The aim of the procedure is to produce a bird which has a combination of both Dutch and Danish Pied in its makeup. These special birds have been named Dark Eyed Clears and appear pure yellow or white in colour. There are several matings which can be used, of which one is given below.

Dutch x Danish = Dutch/Danish

Dutch/Danish x Danish = Dutch/Danish
Dark Eyed Clear

If you get any Dark Eyed Clears then you have proved that the dominant pieds used were definitely Dutch, since Dark Eyed Clears cannot be produced from Australian Pieds.

If you didn't get any Dark Eyed Clears then two possibilities exist
1)You were unlucky with your percentages of offspring
2)You have Australian Pieds, not Dutch.

NEVER BREED AUSTRALIAN PIEDS TO DUTCH PIEDS. The result is that you will have dozens of Pieds, all of which you will never know what they are and ruin two different varieties in one go.

One last area of identification of Pieds which can be confusing is the bird with only a head spot and no other Pied markings. Again there is no foolproof method except for test mating.

Such birds may be badly marked Australian or Dutch Pieds or Normals/ Danish. It's highly uncommon for these birds to be Danish Pieds since they nearly always have white iris rings. Close examination of the feet, toe nails, beak, cere, wing and tail may help in the identification process but the differences are often only very subtle.


By Paul Russ (email p_russ@yahoo.com)

(This article originally appeared in the
Newcastle Budgerigar Club Bulletin in 1999)

I first started out in budgerigars in late 1977 Like most newcomers to the hobby I started out colony breeding and got my first birds through advertisements in the Saturday Newcastle Herald. The birds I bought were "pretty " ones which appealed to me. One of these, I was later to find out, was a Skyblue Greywing Dominant Pied cock. Over the years I was able to breed a number of pieds from him and his offspring. Until I sold out completely (stock, breeding cages, show cages, accessories, etc) and pulled down my aviaries in 1987, I bred and showed numerous Pieds, with some degree of success, including winning the Breeders Trophy for Dominant Pieds at the Newcastle Budgerigar Club Annual Show in 1984. Starting back in Budgerigars in 1993 and building an aviary to hold approximately 35 birds, I decided I would specialise in Pieds as I found that they were the birds that still appealed to me most. While back in 1977 Dominant Pieds were not a very strong bird on the Show Bench, it is amazing how strong they are now and how many different breeders in the Newcastle Budgerigar Club have been breeding quality specimens in the last five years.


Pied budgerigars display areas of ground colour (yellow in green series budgerigars and white in blue series, except yellow faced blues) in place of some body colour and/or markings.

In the Australian National Budgerigar Council Standard, three forms of pied budgerigars are recognised - Australian Dominant, Variegated Dominant and Danish Recessive. It is not the intention of this article to deal with Danish Recessive Pieds.

Australian Dominant Pieds first appeared in Sydney in about 1933 and in Melbourne around the same time. One was exhibited at the Royal Zoological Society Show in Sydney in 1935. It was a Dark Green with wings being half yellow and it had a yellow bar across its body. This bird and its parents (which both looked normal in appearance) were purchased by Keith Ings, and he developed a swam from them. From this swain it is believed came the Australian Dominant Pieds of today. Originally, most of the birds from this strain were Banded Pieds but after successive crossings with Normals the band became less distinctive.

When I started oat in budgerigars, Dominant Pieds in Australia fell into two distinct categories - Australian Pieds and Dutch Pieds, whose appearances could easily be differentiated between. Further, Australian Pieds were divided into Banded Pieds, Flighted Pieds and Variegated Pieds. Banded Pieds had a full and complete band across the chest and uninterrupted body colour above and below it, with the pied area not extending into the mask nor being distinctly visible below the top of the legs. Any other pied markings could be carried, including on the head or neck but there should not have been any on the front apart from the band. Primary tail feathers were preferably pied, although non-pied or one of each was acceptable. Flighted Pieds usually showed no other pied markings except in the primary flight feathers and a head spot. Ideally, both wings should have had a complete set of pied flight feathers, although some had pied flights on one wing only and some showed just one or two pied flights on one wing. Primary tail feathers were usually non-pied. VariegatedPieds had distinctly visible pied markings on the front of the body, as distinct from only a band, as well as other pied markings.


In the Australian National Budgerigar Council Standard, two forms of Dominant Pied budgerigars are recognised -Australian Dominant and Variegated Dominant. These are different from Normal budgerigars in their general body colour, markings and feet.


GENERAL BODY COLOUR: Back rump, breast, flanks and underparts should be a solid shade throughout except that a complete band of ground colour, approximately 20 mm wide, may extend across the body approximately midway between the lower edge of the mask and the legs. Body colour must be complete between the upper edge of the band and the lower edge of the band and the rest of the body. If all other factors are equal, a full band of regular width is preferable to a band of irregular width. A band wider or narrower than 20 mm and a band not ideally located are not serious faults.

MARKINGS: On cheeks, back of head, neck and wings -black, clearly defined and symmetrical except that they are replaced in part with areas of ground colour. Patches of ground colour should be solid, not variegated or grizzled. Clear flight feathers are preferable but an occasional dark flight feather is not a serious fault. Dark flight feathers should not be variegated or grizzled. Pied tail feathers, if present, are to be solid ground colour not variegated or grizzled. A ground colour spot on the back of the head may or may not be present.

FEET: Pink areas of skin pigment may occur on one foot/leg or both.


GENERAL BODY COLOUR: Back, rump, breast, flanks and underparts should be a solid shade throughout except that patches of ground colour may appear on any part(s) of the body. Symmetry in distribution of these patches is desirable.

MARKINGS: On cheeks, back of head, neck and wings -black, clearly defined and symmetrical except that patches of ground colour may appear in any area(s), including the tail. Symmetry in distribution of these patches is des'wable.

FEET: Pink areas of skin pigment may occur on one foot/leg or both.

Note: Any number of spots may be abeera, although six is desirable.

Dominant Pieds can be had in varieties other than Normals, including Greywings, Cinnamonwings, Opalines, Fallows Yellow Faced Blues and Spangles.


Nowadays at most Budgefigar Shows, classes do not differentiate between Australian and Variegated Dominant Pieds. If they do, birds which fit the Australian Dominant Pied description go in that class and all other Dominant Pieds go in the Variegated Dominant Pied class. The Variegated Dominant Pied class thus includes Dutch Pieds and all other Dominant Pieds that do not fit the Australian Dominant Pied description.

To the newcomer to the hobby classing some Pieds can be a problem. Mention was made earlier of Danish Recessive Pieds (often called Harlequins in the past) and while this article is not concerned with them, breeders need to be aware of them. I will deal only with their appearance in comparison to Dominant Pieds. The Standard says that, as with Variegated Dominant Pieds any number of spots may be absent. Similarly, in describing the general body colour it is mentioned that there may be irregular patches of ground colour and body colour with the latter mainly on the lower chest, romp and underparts, and that present body colour must be a solid and even shade. The description of markings however is somewhat different. These should be present over small areas only and the description of flight feathers mirrors those of Australian Dominant which should be clear but an occasional dark feather is not a serious fault. While the cheek patches of Dominant Pieds are violet except for Greygreen and Grey in which they are grey, for Danish Recessive Pieds they are violet and/or silvery white. While pink areas of skin pigment may occur on one foot/leg or both of Dominant Pieds, for Danish Recessive Pieds they are pink. The eyes of Dominant Pieds are black with a white iris ring, however Danish Recessive Pieds are dark with the absence of a white iris ring. While the ceres of both Dominant Pied and Danish Recessive Pied hens should be brown those of Dominant Pied cocks are blue while those of Danish Recessive Pied cocks are flesh colour.

What at first looks like a Danish Recessive Pied, can in fact be a Dutch (Dominant) Pied However, if it has a black eye with an iris ring then it is a Dutch Pied Further if it is a cock and the cere is blue then this is further proof that it is a Dutch Pied and it must not be shown in the Danish Recessive Pied class. Right so you think you've got it. You have a pied budgerigar without an iris ring and it has a flesh coloured cere. It must be a Danish Recessive Pied. Wrong! It could be a double factor Dominant Pied. I will return to Dutch Pieds and double factor Dominant Pieds later.


Above all a good Dominant Pied must be a good exhibition Budgerigar in terms of type (general outline, balance, deportment, head, mask and size) and colour. The main faults you are likely to meet are general Budgerigar faults rather than those affecting Dominant Pieds in particular. The faults that are specific to Dominant Pieds, rather than Budgerigars in general, are marking faults. The pied markings should be symmetrical. In the case of an Australian Dominant Pied the band should be full and of regular width (approximately 20mm wide) and be midway between the lower edge of the mask and the legs. Save for a ground colour spot on the back of the head, there should not be any other ground colour on the body. A minor problem which can be seen in some Variegated Pieds is when the ground colour spills into the mask causing the absence of one or more spots. Ideally in both the Australian and Variegated Dominant Pieds from a symmetrical point of view, flight feathers should be clear, leading to other even patches of ground colour in the wings.


Because as the name indicates, Dominant Pieds are dominant in their mode of inheritance rather than recessive, it does not take long to build up numbers. The various rules that govern the inheritance of the Dominant Pied characteristic, irrespective of the actual colour are:

One needs to realise that the number of Pieds produced in a particular nest may differ from these theoretical expectations.


Dominant Pieds are a variety for both the Novice and the experienced breeder. Being a Dominant variety there is no reason why a good quality Non-Pied, be it say a Normal, an Opaline or a Cinnamon, paired with a good Dominant Pied should not produce good youngsters of both types. This certainly has been my experience. In fact, the best bird I bred in 1997 was a Greygreen Opaline hen (Champion Old Hen, N.B.C. Annual Show 1999) from a Greygreen Opaline cock mated to a Greygreen Cinnamon Pied hen.

The best way to improve your Pieds is to pair them with good Normals, Opalines or even Cinnamons. Whatever is selected as a mate for a Pied you should ensure, just like with any pairing that they make a well-balanced breeding pair from the point of view of quality. If the pair is well-matched, then one should be able to breed both good quality Normals and Pieds, the Normals being as good as if both parents were Normals. As with any pairing, try to combine the best features of both parents. Never pair birds with the same faults and if your Pieds are lacking in a particular feature pair them to birds which excel in this feature, while at the same time are not lacking in other features. If your Pieds are say lacking in depth of mask choose mates which excel in this feature. If the mate who excels in depth of mask is down in a feature, which the Pieds excel in, say backskull, then hopefully you may breed some Pieds thin excel in both depth of mask and backskull. But be patient - it may take a number of years for your Pieds to reach this stage. You should set out on a breeding program that introduces better Normals each year and you should then be seeing results with improvements in the Pieds in two or three generations. If your Pieds have small spots, pairing to especially large-spotted Opalines is the way to go. While good quality Opalines or Cinnamons might be used to cross with the Pieds if you want to seriously breed exhibition Pieds, steer clear of other varieties as mates. Not withstanding this, one of the prettiest Pieds you will see is a Yellow Faced Violet or Yellow Faced Opaline Violet Pied.

Dominant Pieds are not a difficult variety to work with. The only problem, as mentioned, is maintaining spots and variegation on the body and wings and these can be hard to control. Maintaining a good band can also be difficult. However, you need reasonable Pieds to start with if you want to breed good birds and, as outlined, pair them with good quality non-Pieds. Discard the poor quality non-Pied young but persist with the Dominant Pied young even if they are poorly marked. Lack of variegation on the body is not penalised heavily on the show bench. Judges are firsfly concerned with the overall bird- its size, balance and deportment. A good Opaline with a dirty mantle will beat a poor Opaline with a clear mantle, and a Clearwing with good size and style but a smoky wing will also beat a small one lacking deportment but having a clear wing. So will a big stylish, poorly marked Pied lacking a complete set of spots, beat a small, perfectly marked Pied not resembling the Ideal. So don't worry too much if your Pieds have a solid body colour or the other extreme, are nearly completely yellow or white. Markings on Dominant Pieds can be very variable -you only have to look at brothers and sisters and the parent Pied. In the same nest one can have brothers, one with only a Pied flight or two, and the other extremely variegated and it can be the one with only the couple of pied flights which then throws the best marked Pieds. The other failing which also seems to worry breeders is the fact that their Pieds do not display a full set of spots. This is caused by one or more being taken out by the variegation. Some say this fault seems to run in families and little can be done to stamp it out. I have not found this and have had Dominant Pieds with no spots produce young with a full set.


When two Dominant Pieds (single factor) are mated together the mating expectations are 25% Dominant Pied (double factor), 50% Dominant Pied (single factor), 25% Non-Pied. So what are these double factor Dominant Pieds?

Foremost, they are birds that when mated to non-Pieds produce only Pieds and this is where their value lies, in numbers. You will read that when you mate two single factor Pieds together you cannot tell the young double factor Pieds from the single factor Pieds. However, I have found that double factor Pieds have very few markings and very little body colour, markings usually being restricted to the back of the head and body colour to between the primary wing feathers. I have also found that the cere of cocks is very similar to the flesh coloured ones of Danish Recessive Pieds. The double factor Dominant Pieds that I have bred have not had an iris ring again like Danish Recessive Pieds, but some can have one eye with an iris and the other without, and others can have both eyes with an iris ring - all of which should be shown in different classes. If you mate a Dominant Pied to a Dominant Pied and are not sure whether young Pieds are single or double factor, then mat'mg them to non-Pieds should provide the answer. If they produce non-Pieds then they are single factor and if only Pieds are produced in say three nests, then they are most likely double factor.

These are the least common Pieds. On first glance some of the well marked birds can be mistaken for Danish Pieds, however the main distinguishing feature is that unlike the Danish Pied they have a black eye with a white iris ring. Also cocks have a blue cere, unlike the Danish Pied which has a flesh coloured cere.

Dutch Pieds can be sub-categorised as either Clearflighted or Variegated The Clearflighted variety (also known overseas as Continental Clearflights) have clear flights with the rest of their wing feathers' normal', except that grizzled feathers are very common. They should not have pied markings on their body. The Variegated variety also has grizzled wing, but pied markings are often scattered on both the wing and body. The black markings on Dutch Pieds are slightly less intense than Australian Pieds because of the grizzled effect and the body colour is also often slightly paler. Dutch Pieds usually have a head patch and it is also often larger than on Australian Pieds.

In most Dutch Pieds nearly all the body colour is located on the lower half of the body. Pied markings are mostly on the chest and neck with only a few being located elsewhere. Cocks usually show more pied markings than hens, with some hens only displaying the odd pied feather, sometimes one or two flights only. Like the Australian Pied, pink areas of skin pigment may occur on one foot/leg or both and also the degree of variegation can be difficult to maintain.

When are budgerigar has a combination of both Dutch Dominant and Danish Recessive Pied in its makeup, the variety is known as a Dark-Eyed Clear. These birds are either pure yellow or white, without any suffusion. Theft cheek patches are silvery white, their beak orange coloured and their feet and legs fieshy-pink. The cere is flesh coloured in cocks and brown in hens, and their eyes dark and solid in colour without a light iris ring. They can be produced in two generations using the following matings:

Dutch Pied (SF) x Danish Pied = 50% Dutch Pieds/Danish Pied, 50% Normals/Danish Pied

Dutch Pied/Danish Pied x Danish Pied = 25% Danish Pieds, 25% Normals/Danish Pied, 25% Dutch Pieds/Danish Pied, 25% Dark-Eyed Clears

If you want to find out more about Dark-Eyed Clears, including other mating expectations, you could refer to articles appearing in the November 1994, March 1996 and January 1999 issues of Budgerigar World.

I would be interested to hear from anyone who has bred double factor Dutch Pieds as I have only ever bred single factor ones. Breeding Australian Pieds to Dutch Pieds should yield 25% birds that are a composite of both Dominant Pied varieties. Again I would like to hear from anyone who has bred these.