BREEDING SPANGLES by BOB ALLEN
|My earliest memory of seeing a Spangle was in the aviary of a Champion whilst on an aviary visit to the Swindon Budgerigar & Foreign Bird Society area with my club Bristol Budgerigar & Foreign Bird Society around 1984 or 1985. The bird, a Spangle dark or light green was quite small compared to its aviary companions, not a surprise as it was in the aviary of a successful Champion breeder, both locally and nationally. I remember that this bird exhibited very good spangle markings and also the bulls-eye throat spots we are all trying to get back to. The clarity of the wing markings was quite noticeable and, from memory, heavier-darker than those on the large majority of Spangles exhibited today.|
My First Spangles
It was a few years later
before I owned and bred Spangles, but by this time they were being crossed with all the
various varieties and mutations in numerous combinations. This resulted in me doing the
same as the fertility was outstanding, or so we were told, and yes there did seem to be
more chance of breeding something if a Spangle was in the pairing. I ended up breeding
Yellowface Spangles, Cinnamon Spangles and the like, but what happened to the budgie, was
I really breeding to improve the budgie or to breed Spangles. Due to a limited number of cages I could not devote
sufficient to seriously attempt to purify the Spangles and, in hindsight, I did not put
enough serious thought and effort into breeding
To explain this last comment
I am very strong believer in producing all the various mutations in their
At the risk of repeating myself I want to determine what varieties are either visible or hidden and the only way to achieve this is to revert back to the normal. Yes I know it may take many generations for the recessive variety to emerge and it is never 100% certain to be removed just by not using any of that variety.
The nearest that can be attained is by the use of test mating, but how many of us have either the number of cages and the various recessive varieties required to do this. The length of time and the demands on the breeding capability of the stock involved will deter all but a very select few, thats apart from the wastage. Hence I avoid the use of Opaline and Cinnamon wherever possible but not to the exclusion of the better budgie, but if Opaline or Cinnamon does need to have something extra that demands the use of the bird.
Enough of my hobby horse, back to my experiences with Spangles. My first breeding of spangles was in 1990 and I bred some 6 out of 19 youngsters from 4 pairings in a total years breeding of 127 young. Over the next few years I never bred more than 7 in any year with yearly totals between 50 and 100 in 18 breeding cages at most. My first Spangle of any quality was a Grey Green cock obtained late in 1997 and in 1998 it produced 22 young over 4 rounds with the same hen. Of these, 14 were Spangles and that year I used 4 pairings for Spangles with a total of 19 being produced.
|The following year a good
friend in the Midlands loaned my a very good Grey Green Spangle, it was that good it was
my first pairing in the next season, weve all been there and done the same I would
suggest. Well, fortune favoured me and from
the 7 eggs laid 6 young were raised, 4 Spangles and 2 Normals, 2 of the Spangle cocks were
very nice and 1 of these is very happily still breeding to this day, (in the Midlands). They were almost as good as their father with one
difference, they had tails. They did not quite
have his head quality but were very close, he had super width and blow wing
markings only very slightly down but no tail.
Here we go I thought 6 out
of my first 7 chicks were his and I couldnt wait for round 2. Well, that was the end of the good luck, he only
ever produced 1 more chick and that had a deformed face with the beak all sideways, it
could never feed itself and it was put down. Later
in the season whilst still hopeful I noticed the cock had a swollen leg around the ring,
so off came the ring and he hobbled around for quite a while, he recovered but never
produced another youngster, either with me or back in the
This was the beginning of a concerted effort to breed some quality Normal Spangles and this season was also the first using 2nd generation youngsters from the 1997 Spangle, but either my use of his young or incompatibility of them with other lines meant that in general I was disappointed with their young. The 1997 Spangle only bred 2 young that year, both normals. 2000 was a quiet year for Spangles, the combination of a poor breeding season and my first year breeding Slates probably meant that I was playing catch up all season.
2001 saw my best season to
date with 25 bred out of a total of 132 and the introduction of another Spangle (cobalt
hen) from my friend in the
| In 2003 I bred 28 Spangles out of a total of 147 using 7
Spangle pairings and 25 cages. There was no
difference in the numbers of cocks or hens although mostly Spangle cocks were used in the
pairings. I believe I am going in the right direction as this years pairings have,
with one exception, produced Spangle young that will be kept for next seasons breeding. This was also the first year that I used related
stock, albeit 2 generations removed, and next season will see greater integration of both
sides of this family of spangles. It has
become clearer this season that the cocks from the cobalt hen are much better than the
cocks whilst the opposite is true with the young from a Grey Green cock which is the
grandson of the original that I was loaned.
This will not mean lots of
Spangle to Spangle pairings as I do not feel skilled enough to use the Double Factor
Spangles that will result from such pairings. True
only a few will be produced and my friend in the
Aim to improve wing markings
The current aim is to improve the depth and clarity of the wing markings, improve the contrast in the bulls-eye spots and try to improve the depth of body colour. I find that the body colour does tend to pale in the Blue-Grey series birds in general. There are a fair number of exceptions to this statement that are seen on the bench but the introduction of Opaline and Cinnamon have, in my opinion, been the major factor in reducing the intensity of body colour and the clarity of Spangle markings.
Using Cinnamon Spangles
Just to prove that I dont practice what I preach all the time, the Cobalt Spangle hen that has produced most of my best Spangle cocks is a Cinnamon and this year she was paired to her Skyblue grandson. His father, (her son) was naturally split Cinnamon and, paired to non Cinnamon hen produced cocks that may or may not be split Cinnamon themselves, 50/50 is the expected averages. Well this pairing produced 5 young, 2 Spangle Cinnamons, 1 cock 1 hen, 1 Cinnamon hen, 1 Spangle Opaline hen, 1 Opaline Grey hen and 1 Spangle normal hen. I just put it down to the law of averages and waited for a Light Green brother to produce me some Light Green hens. Well 6 Cinnamon Light Greens and 2 Light Greens later I am still waiting for the law of averages to swing in my favour, true he was paired to a good Cinnamon Light Green hen but I wanted 4 of each at worst, not at best. Incidentally this Spangle hen whilst not outstanding is as good as her mother and will be paired back to a Grey from the original Grey line. I am becoming increasingly impatient to commence this years breeding and looking forward to a season of shows, hopefully, with plenty of Spangles to exhibit.
There have been some wonderful Spangles in the recent past from Bill and Chris Heales then from Frank Silva and a number of other worthy winners seen at the Club Show. I cant think of another variety that has had such an impact and achieved such quality in the last 50 years of budgerigar breeding.