There are four varieties to look at if you think your bird belongs to a
budgie varieties with grey markings. These birds have markings that are
either grey, a very pale grey or even reduced to be almost clear. This means
the stripes on the head, down over the neck and the wing markings are
some shade of grey. There is a variety (Texas Clearbody) which has the usual black markings which fade off to grey on the flights, but that is covered on this page.
The budgie varieties with grey markings are the greywing, clearwing, dilute and faded.
The greywing, clearwing and dilutes have such a huge range of variation in appearance that it can be tricky to determine which is which at times. Here are some general guidelines though...
The markings of this variety are a strong grey, the tail is
greyish blue, usually with a dark quill. They have the normal dark eye with
white iris ring, and grey feet and legs. Originally the body colour was been reduced
to about ½ the strength of normal, and the cheek patches are pale
violet (or pale blue or grey if the body color is grey). In exhibition circles the ideal is for the body colour to be closer to normal strength so they have been bred to have darker colour. This means you can find greywings with body colour from 50% to nearly normal. It would be a shame to lose the lovely pastel look of these birds so I hope some people continue to breed them to look as they did originally.
This variety has the colour of its markings and its body greatly diluted.
The body color has been reduced to a much paler shade of the basic color.
This means that any blue or grey birds appear to be bluish, or greyish,
white whilst birds of green color appear yellowish green. Often they are
so pale as to be called suffused white or yellow, meaning they are that
shade with only a pale wash of the green or blue body color visible. Dilutes were also bred to be almost pure white or yellow, and are known as black eyed whites or black eyed yellows. They are sometimes referred to as a different variety, but they are actually dilutes that have been bred to make them almost body colour and markings free. And to further confuse things, when dilutes are bred from lines of clearwings you can end up with a bird with pale wing markings and stronger than usual body colour, much like a pale greywing.
The spots and barring of the original dilutes was pale grey, the wings were
yellowish or whitish with very pale grey markings. The long tail
feathers were either yellow or white with a suffusion of grey.The cheek patches are pale blue/violet, and they have normal dark eyes with a white iris ring. The dilute gene does not affect skin colour so the feet and legs of dilutes will be the normal grey shade. Often, however, birds with both cinnamon and dilute are bred as it reduces the body colour and creates a paler bird. The cinnamon give the bird pink skin, so you often see dilutes with pink feet and legs.
The clearwing budgie has long been thought to be a separate mutation but looking at breeding results and historical information indicates it might be a variation of the greywing. It has been bred to have normal body colouring, with only a little reduction (if any) in its strength. The spots, barring and wing markings should
be either a pale grey or even totally absent. This leaves the bird
with lovely white or yellow wings, though usually with pale head markings still visible. However, often these birds have pale
grey markings that can be almost as dark as a greywing, making it
difficult to tell which type they are especially when greywings are bred with stronger body colour. The line between a greywing and a clearwing is not a clear one, often causing disagreement. Now, the idea that it may not be a separate mutation has added to the level of disagreement!
The cheek patches on the clearwing should be normal violet rather than pale violet of a greywing
though. Clearwings have normal dark eyes with a white iris ring, grey legs and feet,
normal colored ceres and pale grey tail feathers that should have
clear shafts, but often are grey. Pink legs and feet indicate that the bird is also cinnamon, which is often added to further reduce the wing marking colour.
Here are two lovely chicks in a nestbox. They are a cobalt clearwing and a violet clearwing... can you pick the colour difference on the rumps? The violet has a slightly more intense, darker shade. They both have lovely wings with very pale markings.
These three varieties can look very similar. For example, how do you tell a greywing from a clearwing with darker grey markings than usual?
The clearwing has normal strength body colour and cheek patch colour will be normal strong violet or grey. A greywing may have paler than usual body colour and pale violet or grey cheek patches. The final thing to consider is the tail, strong blue grey with a dark quill is a greywing, a clearwing tail will be a more neutral grey colour. If you hear about full bodied greywings, they are simply greywings bred to have full body colour and cheek patches, once thought to be a combination of the greywing and clearwing genes. These birds did not produce clearwings as expected though, which makes sense now that we suspect that clearwings are modified greywings.
The dilute has more reduced colour and markings than the greywing, and the paler cheek patches than usual too and the long tail feathers will be yellowy or whitish grey.
The photo at the top of the page has a cobalt clearwing on the left and a cobalt greywing on the right. You can
see the difference in body colour and cheek patch intensity.
Those are the more common budgie varieties with grey markings, however there is also a very rare variety called Faded.
This variety has the colour of the body and markings reduced slightly, as though a little faded. The wing markings can be dark grey (darker than a greywing) or nearly black, and the body color is a bit paler than normal.
The chicks have red eyes when born, but they darken over the first few weeks. They have no iris ring for the first year or two of life but may develop one when older. The feet and legs are pink and sometimes the male has a slightly paler than normal colored beak and cere.
As this is a very rare variety it is unlikely you will come across one.
Remember that these can be combined with other varieties, such as opaline, spangle or one of the pied varieties, so it pays to check these out if your bird has any different from normal marking patterns as well as colour.