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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I was reading a home veterinary book that I picked up from the library; and of course I flipped straight for the birds section. There was something I read in there about the different mutations of budgies and cockatiels. It stated that,

"Green budgerigars and gray cockatiels tend to live longer and healthier lives than do their different colored counterparts within the same species.
FACT. Green and gray are the normal colors found in wild budgies and wild cockatiels, respectively, whereas other colors are the result of mutations.
Because other genetic mutations often accompany these color mutations, the longevity of the 'off-colored' birds tends to be reduced."
-from "The Complete Home Veterinary Guide" by Chris C. Pinney, DVM.

This was from the 2003 edition.

I just wondered could there be any truth to this now? I mean, I know lutinos tended to be inbred and such when the mutations was discovered but what about other mutations? The cinnamon, for example? I mean, the oldest 'tiel I've seen so far I think was a lutino on here; he's 25 I think?

Just something I came across and found kind of interesting and I wanted to hear others' opinions. :)

-Rowdy
 

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Speaking as a scientist, although unfortunately not as yet a tiel owner, I would have to say that this is a complex issue.

Any new offspring, regardless of species, will have a slightly different genetic profile from the parents. Some 'mutations' or variances may be beneficial, some possibly harmful, and some with no effect on longevity. In the wild, colour may indeed have an effect on longevity depending on the birds habitat, as certain markings may allow it to be more camouflaged or visible to predators. In captivity however, this does not apply.

It may have been that during the time where new colour mutations were rare, these variants also had genetic differences that seemed to reduce their life expectancy, though it would be useful to see if there were any statistically significant differences or whether these were just assumed/observed.

I would have thought though that any other differences would have just as much chance of being beneficial to lifespan as being detrimental. It may have just been the case that the author had only encountered those in which it was detrimental.

It is perfectly reasonable to assume that now there is a much wider genetic pool of colour variants, that any detrimental mutations may also have been diluted. We are after all more likely to breed (and have successful offspring) from healthy long living birds.

However, without knowing in detail the subtleties of avian genetics, I am unable to say whether or not such colour mutations are close to other genes which may (if altered) affect lifespan. You can for example get small mutations that knock out several genes: this may have the desired effect on the colour, but also other less obvious effects on the birds physiology.

Hope this helps! Though it may well just confuse more ;)
 

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I don't think that's true. There are birds of every mutation that are long-lived. :)
 

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I don't think that's true. There are birds of every mutation that are long-lived. :)
I agree, however I don't think that necessarily disproves the authors statement. He says that "the longevity of the 'off-colored' birds tends to be reduced".

This is like saying women tend to live longer than men. They indeed do, however there are many men who live well into their 90's if not longer, and many who will live longer than their female relatives.

Unless someone can perhaps find the original study by which this author made these observations, and this paper shows that there was a statistically significant difference in life expectancy between colour mutations, we can only go by what we and others have observed. Due to this obvious limitation, any differences (especially minor ones) are unlikely to be noticed.

It may even be that certain colour mutations live a lot longer than wild-type nowadays! :D
 

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I think that information may have been outdated in 2003 lol. Some mutations had inbreeding problems in their early days, but since then there's been so much interbreeding between the normal grey and the various mutations that there doesn't seem to be a difference any more. Here's a post from last year that talks about it: http://talkcockatiels.com/showpost.php?p=309525&postcount=23
 

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Thanks for that link tielfan!

That's what I was getting at in my first post... there are usually problems associated with intensive inbreeding in order to obtain a particular trait, it's nice to see that more careful breeding and a wider gene pool has led to any bad traits becoming less common :)
 

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Mutation lifespans

One bird does not prove an anything, but I lost my beloved lutino hen to cancer when she was almost 13. Before the diagnosis was confirmed, my avian veterinarian told me lutinos are more prone to cancer. She also said the white-faced varieties tend to be shorter-lived.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks for the link, tielfan! And all of you for your comments; I found it to be a rather intriguing subject. :)
 
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