Opaline is a very new mutation in peachface lovebirds. It was discoved in 1997. There had been many mutations in peachface lovebirds previously, but they all created new color combinations except for the pied mutation, which creates irregular colored areas on the bird. The opaline mutation changes where the colors are located on the birds in a predictable but new pattern. Not surprisingly, it's therefore called a "pattern" mutation. Opaline mutations also exist in other birds, but this particular opaline mutation is especially interesting because it's the first found in a non-Australian bird. It's truly a very unusual event in the history of aviculture.

The bird on the left in the photo has the "normal" pattern of colors for a green Peachface Lovebird. The peach color of the face extends onto the forehead but no further. The rump is blue, and there's very little red on the tailfeathers. This pattern holds true for color combinations other than the green variety of birds.

The bird on the right is an opaline. The entire head is colored in shades related to the face color, except for a small patch over each ear. The rump is the same color as the back, and there is a large amount of red on the tail feathers. The edges of the feathers are lighter than in non-opaline birds, creating a subtle marbling effect. It almost looks like a new species.

The opaline mutation is sex linked. As a result, hens with opaline genes will always show the pattern (they are termed "visuals"). Males require two copies of the gene to be visuals, so there are far fewer of them. We have noticed subtle differences in males with only one copy of the gene ("splits") that sometimes allow a breeder to tell the difference between a split male and one that has no opaline gene at all.


The opaline mutation first appeared in peachface lovebirds bred by Becky Anderson of the Royal Rose Aviary in Upper Michigan in January, 1997. We met Becky at a bird fair in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, in April 1998 when Royan noticed her at the show. Becky was wearing a shirt with pictures of lovebirds the likes of which we'd never seen! They started talking, and it became obvious she had something unlike any lovebird that had existed previously.

Becky had not had much luck getting the attention of the African Lovebird Society. Though we were new to breeding lovebirds, we knew some members we thought could help the birds become recognized for what they were, and introduced Becky to Doug Bedwell, a well known and much respected breeder of lovebirds.

Working together, Brad took some new photographs, Doug wrote an article for the Society's journal, and we all ensured ALBS bird show judges got to see the birds at regional shows. The first of these was in June, 1998, in Appleton, Wisconsin. In November, 1998, we all attended the national convention of the ALBS in a Chicago suburb where the birds were introduced to the world in general. Interest was intense. A year later, a naming committee of the ALBS awarded them the name opaline (we had been calling them "Roseheads" or "Rosies" up until that point.) By then, there were breeders in several locations working with the birds, ensuring the survival of a very beautiful and very unusual variety of lovebird. The race is now on to see who can come up with opalines in the various color combinations available in the non-opaline peachface lovebirds. We're finding there are lots of surprises in how the colors interact. You can see some of these new combinations in our photo gallery. Each new combination is proving an adventure for opaline breeders.

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