The albino budgie is created by the ino
gene. This gene removes all the
melanin - all the dark colours in the feathers, skin and eyes, so a blue series budgie becomes white and a the green
series one become yellow, collectively these are known as inos. Albino is the term for a white inos, lutino
is the term for a yellow ino. Having two names for different colours of a single variety is not usually done as it causes confusion, but these names have been used for so long that they are accepted. Often people new to budgies will assume that they are two separate varieties and be surprised to see both turn up in the same nest.
The ino gene removes the dark pigment from the skin and beak leaving
the bird with pink legs and an orange beak. It also removes the blue shade from
the cocks cere so they have a flesh/skin colored cere whilst the hen
is the usual rough brown shade as this is not caused by melanin. The dark color of the eye is also gone
leaving a red eye with a white iris ring, and the cheek patches are
silvery white.The silvery shade of the cheek patches is caused by the structure of these feathers, which also gives some violet cheek patches a lovely shimmer.
The hen on the left shows the red eyes and orange beak
that help identify an ino.
On the right is a young ino and below it a very similar variety called the double factor spangle. These two can be easily confused however you can see that the df spangle's eye, beak, cere and legs are
darker than the albinos as it still has melanin present in these areas.
Usually only the white and yellow colors are left, so an ino can
hide the fact that it also has other varieties present. This is referred
to as masking, so an ino may be masking spangle, dominant pied, fallow
etc. You would not be able to see these varieties but they are present and could be passed on to offspring. The only varieties that should show are all the types of yellow face on an albino budgie, as seen below. These are sometimes called creaminos and they look this way because the yellow colour is not created by melanin and so is not removed.
The only exception to the above rule is the lacewing budgie, a composite of cinnamon and ino. In this case the cinnamon and ino genes are present on the same chromosome and for some reason light brown markings and pale violet cheek patches are visible. This makes a lovely white or yellow bird with pale brown markings! The lacewing is often spoken of as if it was a separate variety, but it is actually a composite (the same as a spangle opaline, or cinnamon recessive pied for example) as it is made up of both ino and cinnamon. The ino and cinnamon, once linked, tend to be inherited together so it appeared to be a new variety at first, so was given its own name.
The other interesting thing that can happen is that sometimes a faint
'suffusion' of the body color can show in certain lights. The ino budgie
above on the right has a tiny bit of blue suffusion showing by its wing and
under its tail.
There is also a lovely variety called the texas clearbody. This variety arose from another mutation of the ino gene and so is related to inos genetically, but will be discussed separately. You can see more images of inos on my ino Pinterest board, the link is at the top right of the page. The board includes lacewings and texas clearbodys as they belong to the ino group of varieties.
The ino gene is represented by the symbol ino, (with wild type being ino+) and its inheritance is sex-linked and recesssive. Check out the Budgie Genetics
page if that doesn't make sense...
This means the basic inheritance works like this:
ino x ino = 100% ino chicks
ino cock x normal hen =
-50% normal/ino cocks
-50% ino hens
normal cock x ino hen =
-50% normal/ino cocks
-50% normal hens
normal/ino cock x normal hen =
-25% normal cocks
-25% normal/ino cocks
-25% ino hens
-25% normal hens