What Is a Lutino Parakeet?

Parakeets are affectionate, intelligent pet birds belonging to the parrot family. Also called budgies and budgerigars, these Australian natives come in a wide range of beautiful feather colors and patterns, including the lovely lutino variation caused by a specific gene mutation.

Description of Lutino Parakeets

Lutinos are considered the albino version of the green series of parakeets, which has earned them the nickname of "yellow albinos." A lutino features lush, buttercup-yellow feathers on the body and head, silver-white cheek patches and paler yellow coloring on the tail and primary flight feathers. Unlike the black eyes of "normal" parakeets, the lutinos look at the world through red or pink eyes surrounded by white iris rings. The legs and bills have a reddish tint.

Lutino Genetics

Male parakeets have two Z chromosomes, while the females have one Z chromosome and one W chromosome. The lutino trait is carried on the Z chromosome, also referred to as the "ino gene," making this trait a sex-linked mutation. Because two non-lutino birds can produce lutino babies, it is considered a recessive gene. In order to ensure a breeding pair of parakeets will produce lutinos, the bird breeder must mate two parakeets with visible lutino characteristics.

Sexing a Lutino Parakeet

Telling the gender of your adult lutino parakeet is the same as with other kinds of parakeets. You must look at the cere, or the bumpy, fleshy membrane above the beak where the nostrils are located. Male lutino parakeets, or cocks, sport pinkish-purple ceres, while the girls, or hens, feature brown, tan or white ceres.

History of Lutino Parakeets

In the wild, most parakeets feature green or yellow coloring. First noted by an explorer back in 1805, the normal-colored parakeets were finally introduced to England in the 1840s. As traders starting selling parakeets as pets, bird enthusiasts started breeding the birds with uncommon color mutations to produce a wider range of feather colors and patterns. The lutinos first appeared in bird circles during the 1930s. Although the lutino parakeet does occasionally occur in the wild when the recessive genes surface, these birds typically don't survive for very long because their coloring makes them easy for predators to spot. Most lutino parakeets are the result of careful breeding.

Lutino Care

Despite their unique coloring, lutinos don't require any special care. Like other parakeet varieties, they love to fly and climb, so your birdy needs a large cage. These birds really hate cold drafts, so keep the cage away from doors and windows. Give your lutino clean water and fresh food every day. Make sure he gets a varied diet by giving him seeds, nuts, vegetables and fruits along with his bird food. These affectionate birds enjoy bonding with their owners, so spend at least 30 minutes a day interacting with him. Lutinos that receive proper care can live to be 10- to 15-years old.