The Fallows
By Ghalib Al-Nasser

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English Fallow

Three characteristics are associated with this mutation; red or plum eyes, medium brown wing markings and diluted body colour. The feet are pinkish grey and the cere in cocks is fleshy pink. All markings on back of head and neck are of medium brown.

Over the years three different types of this mutation have been established; the English, German and Scottish fallow. The German fallow differs from the other two by having a white iris ring around the eye. The Scottish fallow seems to be very rare. It was found that when pairing the English to the German type, only black-eyed birds resulted that are split for both types. The German fallow was established in 1929 while the English was in 1937. It is quite possible that the Australian fallow (with the iris ring) may have been an indigenous mutation, which resembles the German strain.

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German Fallow

Other claims as to the origin of this variety came about in 1931 from correspondence by Mrs. A.R. Hood of California, U.S.A. stating that she had bred from two pairs of green birds offspring fitting the coloration of the current fallows; yellowish green, cinnamon wing and tail marking and the deep red eyes.

Logically, Mrs. Hood’s new mutation of birds with red eyes appearing in 1931 indicates that this mutation is recessive and must have occurred earlier on a half of a chromosome pair and been passed on to the green birds in the stock. We now know that when two birds carrying a new recessive colour are paired together then the actual new coloured bird will appear. This indicates that Mrs. Hood’s new fallows must have appeared at the earliest in 1929. Sadly this strain was not followed through, as her initial fallows were sold to other breeders and records were lost.

Other recorded facts of this mutation appeared in 1929 at Herr Augustin’s of Biel, Switzerland, but the bird did not survive to establish its kind. Fallow mutations were also bred by Herr Schumann of Magdeburg, Germany, in 1932 and by Herr C. Balser, of Germany at about the same time. The German mutation was well established and examples arrived in Britain in 1934 to the studs of H.R. Scott, B.S. Campkin, F.G. Simpson and W.P.C. Unwin.

It is believed that a similar mutation also appeared in Australia as well as South Africa at about the same period of time. The Australian strain first appeared in the aviaries of Mr. O’Brian of Newtown, Sydney during the early part of the 1930s. The Australian mutation was later on established to be the same as that of the German mutation; plum eye with a white iris ring. This mutation is very popular in Australia and the best fallows that I have ever seen were those of Ian Hannington at the 1994 Australian National. They had the desirable size and the beauty of the variety.

The English mutation was established by 1937 in the aviary of F. Dervan of Luton. That strain first appeared from a normal green/blue pairing. The late Mr. Arthur Collier recognised that the birds had much brighter red eyes than the German strain, which was also established in Britain by this time. This new mutation appeared to be showing the same body/wing markings as that of the German strain but the difference was with the eye wherein this variety did not have the white iris ring around the plum eye. However, although the Budgerigar Society Colour Standards description specify that there is no white iris ring for the English fallow, in reality there is a very faint pink iris and often some are wrong classed at specialist shows where separate classed for the German and English fallows are provided, as they are mistaken for German fallows.

Records of the Scottish fallow (red eye without the iris ring) are not that well documented. However, Ian Whiteside of Cumnock, Ayrshire’s recently published article in the Scottish Journal traces the story of the Scottish fallow back to the mid 1920s when the late Jim Moffat’s father came across this beautiful variety in the aviary of a Mr. Coghill who was a bank manager in Nairn. Mr. Moffat Snr. obtained examples of this variety from Mr. Coghill and bred with them successfully. Mr. Jim Moffat carried on breeding those fallows after his father passed away. Mr. Whiteside bred a fallow in 1986 from a pair of normal greens. On checking records it seems that the bloodline goes back to Mr. Richie Kerr of Greenock. Both Richie’s father and Jim’s father were close friends so the story is unfolded regarding the Scottish fallow. It seems that two fanciers in Scotland have bred fallows in recent years from Mr. Whiteside’s bloodline. In all cases it seemed that the Scottish strain had some lethal gene in so far as many of the young do not survive beyond 3 weeks. So with this information we know that the Scottish fallow still exists.

The name fallow was initially derived from the German word “Falben” used initially to distinguish new mutations appearing in Germany. Both the German word “Falben” and the English word “Fallow” means “uncultivated” which, when applied to budgerigars, implied that the pigment was uncultivated, or not in its usual finished condition.

The fallows can be produced in all other varieties but for exhibition purposes I feel that they should be restricted to the normal varieties. However, for beauty there is nothing to stop experimental breeders breeding recessive pied fallows or crested fallows for that matter. The production of the fallow will be like any of the recessive characters which acts as a simple "autosomal recessive gene" and the rules of their reproduction are as follows:-

1)         Fallow X Normal  = 100% Normal/Fallow

2)           Fallow X Normal/Fallow = 50% Fallow and 50% Normal/Fallow

3)           Fallow X Fallow = 100% Fallow

4)           Normal/Fallow X Normal/Fallow = 25% Fallow, 50% Normal/Fallow and 25% Normal

5)           Normal/Fallow X Normal = 50% Normal/Fallow and 50% Normal

From the Table above, it can be deduced that there is absolutely no merit in the pairings indicated in rules 4 & 5.  A lot of wastage is produced from these pairings and also it is not possible to distinguish the split fallow progeny from the Normals. However, if fallows of good size are to be produced, then pairing 4 might just about be the best. If good quality normals are initially used with fallows as outcrosses to produce the splits as in pairing 1, those quality splits can then be outcrossed back to fallows to produce quality fallows as in pairing 2 or better still using 2 splits together (invariably better quality than visual fallows) as in pairing 4 in the hope that the odd visual fallow produced will be of a better desirable quality. However, the normal black-eyed birds that are produced from pairing 4 can be either splits or normals but there are no visual characteristics to distinguish them from each other without future test pairing.

There are virtually no short cuts in trying to produce quality fallows apart from using quality normals as outcrosses, plenty of patience, dedication and luck. The Australian fallow, over the years, has been produced to such a good standard that I feel our British fanciers should follow suit. More help and assistance can be given by the Rare Variety & Colour B.S. to those who wish to breed fallows.

Sadly, there are not many examples of the variety seen at shows apart from those specialist & rare variety shows around the country (and the B.S. club show) where separate classes for both the English & German fallows are available. At all other shows the variety should be exhibited in the rare variety group catering for the clearbody, fallow, saddleback and slate and, from the 2006 show season, the rainbows will also be grouped in that section. Not many fallows are seen at other shows apart from those specialist & rare shows.

The body colour of the fallow increases in depth of shade progressively downwards from the upper breast to the rump area where the colour is the deepest. We have seen specimens of the cinnamon fallows when the cinnamon has been introduced into this variety. The effect of the cinnamon dilutes the body colour further and in some cases gives the appearance of a lacewing but with the plum red eye without the iris ring. These birds should be penalised on the show bench as they do not conform to the B.S. Colour Standards.