Cockatiel Mutations And How They Came About

In this article, let us look at some of the cockatiel mutations that have come about over the last few decades. Cockatiel mutations did not happen in the wild, but from breeders experimenting with different colors.

Over the past fifty years or so, breeders around the world have managed to make wonderful color mutations from normal grey cockatiels that were originally found in the wild.

Some breeders spend their lives experimenting and trying to get the next beautiful color variation. Unlike some other bird species, cockatiels cannot be interbred. They are unique birds and only breed within their own species.The most common varieties of cockatiel include normal, cinnamon, white-faced, Lutino, Albino, dominant silver and Pearl.

There is no record of a color mutation in a cockatiel every occurring in the wild. This art was developed by breeders of the bird.

You can read all about cockatiel genetics here to see how the different colors are formed.

Cockatiel Mutations

The Normal Grey

This is the natural form of a cockatiel and is the most common variety that we all know today.


The cinnamon mutation was established in Belgium in the late 1960s.

Cinnamons can vary widely in their shade of color and the adult cocks tend to be darker. The eyes and legs are lighter than that of the normal grey cockatiel.

Cinnamon cockatiels are recognized by a warm brownish tinge in their plumage.


The fallow cockatiel made its first appearance in Florida in 1971.

Fallows have red eyes and a grayish yellow body coloration that distinguishes them from cinnamons.

The depth of color does vary and the cocks are darker than the hens.

Dominant Silver

The dominant silver is the most recent cockatiel mutation and emerged from the UK.

The first one recorded was seen in a pet shop in 1979. This mutation was successfully developed more with careful inbreeding.


Pearl cockatiel mutations were first bred in 1967 in West Germany.

These cockatiels have white markings on their backs and wings in various patterns.

Some have more white than others. The markings are often scalloped and look like lace patterning on the cockatiel’s back.


The lutino cockatiel mutation is the most popular cockatiel mutation.

The lutino originated in 1958 with a Florida breeder.

The early lutino’s sold for a fortune, but nowadays they are almost as common as the greys.

Lutino’s often used to be referred to as albino, until the true albino emerged, which was pure white with no yellow coloration.

A genetic flaw associated with the lutino is a bald patch on the top of its head. Breeders should not pair these together, or the bald patch will become widespread among their breeding cockatiels.


Pieds are the oldest of the cockatiel mutations. They were being bred in California as long ago as 1949.

These cockatiels have a mixture of dark and light feathers. The variations are endless here, with the lighter mutations being the most attractive.

Recessive Silver

These cockatiels were first recorded in New Zealand in the early 1950s, but this strain wasn’t established until the sixties.

The eye coloration is red, and this is what distinguishes them from the dominant silver.

In the earlier mutations, there was a problem with blindness which has since been overcome, but this species type remains rare.

White Faced

This mutation was first recorded in Holland in 1969.

The yellow faces and orange cheeks are missing in this mutation, and the albino mutation followed on this one. Lots of different mutations have come out of the white-faced cockatiel, including the pearl and cinnamon forms.


This is the newest and most prized variation. They are pure white and are proving very popular.

Other Variations

Other variations of cockatiel mutations have been recorded from time to time over the years, but none have been established.

The next achievement will be a totally black cockatiel. No matter what, the popularity of owning cockatiels is only going to keep getting stronger and stronger in the future.


  1. Thank you so much to the author who has written down this kind of beneficial information.  This article opened my mind to the fact that mutation does not just happen in the wild but experimenting breeders. 

    This is an eye-opener because I never knew about all these secrets before now. Thanks for sharing

    1. Yes Tracy, I also found it interesting to learn just how these mutations came about, and none of it happened in nature.

  2. It is always amazing what we as humans are able to accomplish in terms of manipulations to the animal kongdom. Whether this be plants, dogs or birds, the results are truely astounding.

    I do wonder about the long term effects of such mutations as you have written for example, blindness associated with Recessive Silver being overcome. Do you believe that this should be something that we as humans should be pursuing?


    1. I also wonder about the long term effects, but if we look at the Lutino Cockatiel, it seems to be quite genetically sound.  Not sure either if we as mankind should be messing with nature like this.

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