B eing born and raised here in Southern California, I have had so many wonderful chances to meet and associate with some of the finest and most experienced aviculturalists in this country, and perhaps the world. Our wonderful and normally hospitable weather here in the Southland allows for tremendous opportunities for those who wish to establish outdoor aviaries, as well as
semi-tropical gardens. '
My initial schooling in aviculture came from spending countless hours with Mr. Tony Lopez of San Fernando, Mr. David West of Montebello, Mr. Paul Schneider of Riverside, Mr. & Mrs. Harold King of Arleta, and Mr. Gordon Hayes of San Pedro. I also had the pleasure in my youth to have met on various occasions Dr. Jean Delacour, Mrs. T.M. Towne, Mrs. Rudkin and Mr. Bernard Roer to name but a few. In some large or small way, all of these truly knowledgeable people had an impact on my life and had much to share with a naive and ignorant 16 year old who was never hesitant to ask questions.
Diplomacy was another concept I learned immediately, as one had to be very careful regarding who s name was mentioned at which camp. Yes, there were heavy politics, I learned, even in the bird business.
Here in the "Golden State" we have the privilege of obtaining a driver's license at the age of 16. The third of six children, I was not able to truly pursue
my passion of birds until I had a means of transportation whereby I could go and visit the aviaries of established breeders. Wasting no time, I was first in line at the Department of Motor Vehicles on my 16th birthday to avail myself of that same privilege. Thus, I shall always be extremely grateful to both of my parents who were quite permissive in allowing me the use of their cars (for hours at a time), and for being more and more generous concerning my reclamation of the backyard for building more and more aviaries.
I incorporated the above brief history into this article for two reasons.
First, I believe that it's important to acknowledge and remember the accomplishments of the many pioneers of American aviculture to whom I think we now owe a great deal.
Secondly, it's worth mentioning that when certain mutations arise, it's not always easy to determine the proper name for an odd or new mutation color. Consequently, many of the experienced "old timers" were themselves guilty of using and perpetuating incorrect names.
Identifying a mutation and naming it accordingly, isn't always as easy as it seems. Let's take for example some
now. And how about the pearl? This, too, is a mis-named mutation as it is actually an opaline. In fact, this entire subject of proper nomenclature deserves an article in and of itself.
I bring this to the readers attention because there seems to be some confusion regarding two Red-rump mutations. The most common Red-rump mutation is the mis-named yellow Redrump. It is sometimes confused with the lutino Red-rump which is new and exceptionally different in color and much more uncommon.
The so called yellow Red-rump is in fact a cinnamon mutation. The bird is sex-linked and its reduction of melanistic pigment reduces its color making it seem more of a yellowish. Thus the name "yellow" Red-rump which, although descriptive, is incorrect.
The lutino Red-rump is similarly sex-linked, but it is void of all melanin and its colors are extremely sharp and well defined.
My first glimpse of a lutino Redrump came when I was on a trip to Australia and New Zealand. Although true lutino Red-rumps had been in existence for some time in Australian aviaries, I didn't see one until the mid 1980s while in Sydney. I was struck by the strong contrasts of deep yellow and clean white that the cock birds especially held. Added to this, was the brilliant and vibrant "red rump" making it one of the truly spectacular color mutations I had ever seen.
From Australia I traveled to Auckland, New Zealand where I told a breeder friend of mine how taken I was with this new mutation I had just seen. He told me that he knew a small breeder not too far away with the same mutation. We visited the breeder and I was shocked to find the conditions that these delightful birds were housed in. The aviaries were small, dark, and damp with earthen floors. The birds were on a pure seed and water diet and the breeder reported that he would raise about as many babies as he would lose each year and that he wasn't getting anywhere with these birds. He felt that they were just too weak and that they were a mistake of nature.