by Doug Bedwell
Red Suffusion, sometimes referred to as "red
pied", is probably not a true color mutation, strictly speaking, but it
is often mistaken for one, so I have included it here. In fact, the
causes of red suffusion are not particularly well understood. Though
many breeders have claimed that this is a genetic mutation, no one has
been able to consistently reproduce it through a series of generations,
which sheds considerable doubt that it is actually a genetically
Red suffusion typically
appears as a series of red "spots." It is generally believed that the
red spots are caused by some sort of dietary problem, or liver
disfunction while the feathers were developing, which caused them to
become differently pigmented. The problem may well have resolved itself
before the differently colored feathers are ever noticed.
Red suffusion is frequently
seen in very old birds, or young birds before their first molt. The
bird shown in the picture accompanying this article showed the red
suffusion up until its first molt at around five months of age. It has
been over a year since that molt, and the red color has not returned,
nor has the red shown up in any of that bird's close relatives.
I am not aware of red
suffusion being clinically connected to any sort of serious illness,
though probably no thorough research has been done on it, since it is
fairly uncommon. I am probably asked about it two or three times a
year, which may give you some idea of how often it crops up. If a bird
shows red suffusion, you may want to keep an eye on his activity level,
and check his droppings to be sure they look normal. It might be
worthwhile to have a good avian vet do a blood workup, especially if
the bird shows other signs of illness. However, it is not uncommon for
red suffusion to appear in a bird that seems healthy in every other
regard. It may be that whatever ailment caused the color has resolved
itself even before the color became evident, or it may be that there is
another explanation for the color.
As there is, obviously, much left to be learned
about the causes of Red Suffusion. If anyone reading this article has
encountered this coloring, I would be interested in hearing about your
experience with it.
Incidentally, there is every
reason to imagine that a truly red mutation of the peachfaced will turn
up at some point. All the necessary pigments are there, so if the right
genetic "quirk" occurs at some point, we could end up with "rosy
lovebirds" just as with "rosy Bourkes". (I don't know a thing about
rosy Bourkes mind you, but I think that's what is at work there).
Anyway, if you thought that there were a blue million color mutations
now, just wait, there will almost certainly be more.
The bird to the left has an
orange suffusion. Note that both of the birds in these photos are