Budgie Body Colours
Mauve, Cobalt, Violet...?

Budgie body colours, where should we start? How about with your basic light green normal budgie. This colour is made up of yellow and blue as described on the Budgie Colours page. The term 'body colour' refers only to the green, blue or grey color of the budgies body, not to the wing or face colour. The face (also called mask) colour is often referred to as the base colour i.e. white base or yellow base. The various wing colours are a separate topic, so are covered at Budgie Varieties.

We can divide budgie body colours into two groups, the green series (all those with yellow present) and the blue series (all those without yellow). There are also three specific varieties - yellow face 1 (also called blue2), yellow face 2, and goldenface - that have reduced amounts of yellow. They are officially called parblues but they are covered in the Budgie Varieties section so will not be covered here.

There are four effects that we should consider before we discuss the individual colours; the dark factor, grey, violet and slate.

Dark Factor - the dark factor creates three different shades. Each budgie can have either:

  • two copies of the non-dark gene (dd)
  • one dark and one non-dark gene (Dd)
  • two dark genes (DD)

Each body feather has a cloudy layer, in wild type birds this is a certain thickness and causes the body colour to be light and bright.  The mutated dark gene thins this layer making the body colour appear darker. This causes the following shades:

  • dd = light green (the wild type) or skyblue
  • Dd = dark green or cobalt
  • DD = olive or mauve

Grey - this gene has the effect of removing the cloudy layer in the feather.  It is the cloudy layer that causes us to see blue (and green if yellow pigment is present). This means it makes a blue budgie look grey, and a green budgie into what is called a grey green. A skyblue bird becomes a light grey, a cobalt becomes a medium grey and a mauve a dark grey. It can be difficult to tell the shades apart though so mostly they are just called grey or grey green.

Violet - the violet gene alters the sahpe of the cloudy layer and the barb.  This causes a purplish shade to the feather, creating a deeper richer blue and even a violet shade in cobalts. It can be present in both green and blue series birds, but is most obvious and attractive in the blue series.

Slate - this is a less common colour so you are not likely to come across it unless you are hunting for it. It has a similar effect to violet, a darkening and enriching effect, but rather than a violet hue, it produces a blue/grey slate shade. It can be present on any colour bird, however it really only visual on the blue birds, and is most obvious when on a skyblue bird. When combined with grey it produces a nice, very dark bird. There are a couple of slate pictures on the right, a slate violet chick and a slate skyblue cock.

So without further ado let’s look at the individual shades! I am going to talk only about the budgie body colours, we can talk about variations in markings on another page.

The Green Series

Light green - this is the original, wild type, colour of the budgie, a lovely bright grass green. It is a bird with both blue and yellow present, to create green, with no dark factors. It often has a brilliant iridescent feel about it, like the budgie on the right below. Their cheek patches are bright violet and the tail is a dark blue.

light green budgies

Dark green – the intermediate shade of green, what you have if one dark factor is present. It is darker and lacks the iridescence of light green. It can be tricky to show the difference in photos, in reality they are quite different side by side. Their cheek patches are violet and the tail is a dark blue.

dark green budgies
olive budgie
olive budgerigar

Olive – the darkest shade of green with two dark factors present. It is almost a muddy green shade. This color can look a lot like grey green. They can be distinguished by the color of their cheek patches (violet blue in olive and greyish blue in grey green birds) and long tail feathers (dark blue in olive and black in grey green). Their body colour is often kind of blotchy looking, rather than the smooth shade of grey greens.

grey green budgerigar
grey green parakeet

Grey green – with this colour the grey gene causes a colour similar to olive. Grey greens can be light, medium or dark depending on how many dark factors are present.

The budgie on the right is a chick and therefore a paler shade, once it moults it will darken a little and become a stronger color, more like the olive above. If you compare its cheek patch with those of the olive you will see the difference; violet in the olive, blue/grey in the grey green. The budgie on the left has silvery cheek patches due to it also being of the spangle variety, which will be discussed on another page. She is just here to give another example of a grey green shade.

Violet green– the violet gene alters the basic body colour of the bird. The effect is to darken and enrich the shade of green. This makes, for example, a light green bird with the violet gene look similar to a dark green but with an odd almost blue tint. The colour palette below is a violet dark green.

The Blue Series

Skyblue – the lightest shade of blue,with no dark factors. It is a light green bird but with the yellow removed, leaving a lovely, bright, iridescent pale skyblue. Their cheek patches are bright violet and the tail is a dark blue.

skyblue budgerigar

Cobalt – the medium shade of blue with one dark factor. Cobalt describes this colour well. It is darker than skyblue and has lost the iridescence. Their cheek patches are bright violet and the tail is a dark blue.

cobalt parakeet
mauve parakeet

Mauve – this is the darkest blue with two dark factors. It can look muddy and greyish but is bluer than a grey. If in doubt remember that a grey has grey/blue cheek patches and a black tail whilst mauve has violet cheek patches and a blue tail. Mauves often have a patchy appearance to their body colour like the bird on the right.

Grey – the grey gene removes the blue effect resulting in a grey bird. Remember that the grey gene also changes the cheek patches to blue/grey and the tail feathers to black. Like the grey greens, greys come in light, medium and dark depending on what shade of blue it is covering.

grey budgerigar
visual violet parakeet

Violet – in blues the violet gene works by causing a purple tint leading to a darkening and enriching of the basic blue shade. It can, for example, make a skyblue appear to be a richer than usual cobalt. My first ever violet was a violet skyblue that I thought was cobalt. However after a few matings I realised she wasn't, and on inspection I noticed that above her wings in the neck region her colour was a richer more violet shade than the cobalt elsewhere. This can sometimes provide a clue to the presence of violet. The most beautiful of these is the budgie with a strong violet colour often called a visual violet, like the lovely bird on the right.They are usually a double factor skyblue or cobalt violet.  There is a helpful way to tell if your bird is a skyblue or a cobalt under the violet tint. Skyblue budgies have a emerald blue/green shade on their flights, cobalts have more of a deep navy blue shade. This isn't changed by the presence of violet so can be a useful tell.

These are the basic budgie body colours, as they are found when not altered by the mutations that have created the many budgie varieties. We will cover these (opaline, spange, ino, pied etc.) in another page as they work separately from the body colours.

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