Mutations, despite their rare appearances in nature, are, nevertheless, strange things that happen with DNA being assaulted by many things. Oddly, the mutations when they occur (with few exceptions) are recurrent. One such super rare mutation is what is known as the Feather Duster budgie.
A budgie is an accepted term for what is known as a budgerigar, or, more commonly, a parakeet. The normal, colorful parakeet can be easily found and acquired at any pet store. They’re plentiful and far from being in danger of extinction. And they make wonderful pets for many, many lovers of birds. The parakeet is a small bird in comparison to their much larger cousins that seem to hog all of the attention. The budgie is found wild in the grasslands of Australia. They are naturally green and yellow with black in their wings. These seed-eating beauties are the most popular pet in households after dog and cats. They possess the ability to mimic speech and can become chatterboxes.
In captivity, parakeets have been bred in other colors including blue and white feathers. Some are even bred with crests on their heads. But there are some that absolutely catch the eye of bird-lovers. One of them is the ultra-rare previously mentioned Feather Duster budgie. Their unique mutation is an accidental one, a mutation in a recessive gene that does not spontaneously pass on to their offspring.
The Feather Duster budgie is even unrecognizable as such at its birth. In fact, it isn’t until the feathers begin to grow out that it is recognized for what it is becoming. Their feathers grow profusely and eventually begin to curl. The growth of the mutant’s feathers does not stop as a normal parakeet’s feathers would. Even as it molts, it will keep a rich overgrowth of curly feathers.
There are some sad downsides to this mutation, no matter how beautiful it may be. One is the shortened life span of the parakeet. Typically, this mutated parakeet will not live much past its first year of life if it even lives that long. They lose much of their mobility and perching capability as a result of the overgrowth. Thankfully, their ability to eat is not hampered in any way. However, it is noted that the mutated parakeet simply cannot eat enough to support their overgrowth of feathers. However, this thinking is being challenged by some stating that there are necessary components of the diet that need to be addressed, thus creating a unique food to sustain the bird. The noise a Feather Duster parakeet makes is contrasted against that of a normal parakeet.
Over time, there have been several Feather Duster budgies that have gained a level of notoriety. One was Whipper, who became famous not only for its unusual looks but also in the fact that it seemed to defy the odds that usually proved fatal to others of its genetic mutation. Whipper was owned by Julie Hayward in New Zealand. Whipper was believed to be blind. Nevertheless, Whipper was as healthy as any bird. It is not known if Whipper survived past his first year of life as his existence was reported back in 2011. Nor has it been discovered if any others have been born since that time.