Slate Budgie (Appearance, History, Genetics, and Caring)

Last Updated on March 21, 2024 by Ali Shahid

Slate budgie is an underlying, sex-linked mutation of slate varieties. Discovered for the first time in 1935, these fascinating birds have a special bluish-grey color, similar to slate, that makes them stand out from other colorful birds. Even though they are quite rare, Slate Budgerigars have caught the attention of bird lovers and breeders, inspiring efforts to make their feathers even darker and create an entirely black Budgerigar.

The shades of slate are light, medium, and dark. However, the difference between the three shades is considerably less than that between sky blue, cobalt, and mauve.

This bird’s body color can be difficult to describe in words, but “slate” conveys it well. The term bluish-grey could also be used. As with mauves, slates have cheek patches of deep violet color.

Incorporating the slate gene into birds of the green series darkens the feather color.
As with the violet and gray colors, this color affects all the green and blue series birds, altering their original coloration.

Violet greens and slate greens are very similar. However, the cheek flashes are quite dull and deep in color, which distinguishes them from violet greens. Additionally, the undulations appear duller than violet-green. In the Slate Green Series:

  • A slate light green color would be similar to a pale dark green color.
  • The slate dark green has a dull, deep dark green hue without any flickering.
  • Extra deep Olive Deep

The body shade of the Blue Series slate is distinguished by its distinctive color. The cheek flashes and undulations are both deep, dull violet.

Blue is the only series in which slate coloration is clearly visible. In fact, slate mauves are the darkest budgies, and as such, they are the closest to the coveted blacks. Join us as we explore the fascinating story of these extraordinary birds and their role in budgerigar mutations.

Origin and History of Slate Budgie

Slate Budgerigars have been around much longer than Saddleback Budgerigars, first appearing between 1933 and 1935. In that period, there were a variety of shades of grey reported.

Cyril Rogers wrote the famous book The World of Budgerigars, which helped document the history of Budgerigars as well as ensure that the species is still around.

According to his records:

  • In 1933, E. A. Brooks of Mitcham, Surrey, bred the first British recessive Grey.
  • Mrs. S. Harrison of Murrumbeena, Victoria, Australia, bred the first Australian dominant grey.

As reported by F. S. Elliott (March 1935 Budgerigar Bulletin), H.T. Watson of Bedford possessed a slate-blue hen. A dealer sold Mr. Watson this bird in 1933, but he did not know the bird’s parentage.

She was paired with a Cobalt White cock but produced only two Cobalts (a cock and a hen) before passing away. There were no slates bred from these two youngsters.

Furthermore, Cyril said he had been given the skin of the original hen, which he kept until it disintegrated over time. After comparing the skin with Slate Cobalts several years later, he concluded that the Watson hen was indeed a Slate.

In May 1935, T. S. Bowman of Carlisle reported having bred a slate-colored bird. This bird is a cross between a cobalt cock and a Skyblue hen. Furthermore, in November of that year, he exhibited the first slate in the AOC class at Dumfries.

Additionally, Bowman confirmed that his slates differ from the previously reported Grey mutations in breeding patterns. Further, he confirmed the sex-linked nature of his slate budgies. Thus, the slate variety was created.

Upon the establishment of the variety, it was discovered that the slate variety is available in three shades and on both the green and blue mutations. There was a steady interest in the variety during the 1960s and early 1970s.

However, since the Australian Grey has become so popular, the popularity of the slate has decreased. In the summer of 1970, a young Dutch couple happened to visit the late Cyril Rogers.

When they returned, they were able to acquire a breeding pair of this variety that was suitable for breeding. Upon the death of the young Dutch husband in a road accident, his sister took charge of the breeding stock.

The only slate that she had at the time of her marriage was given to a friend of hers from Amsterdam, Inte Onsman. The Slate breed virtually disappeared from the U.K. market until Inte Onsman sent Cyril two Slate cocks to breed in 1992.

According to Mr. Gray, only one of the cocks was fertile, and it produced a large number of chicks when paired with a Clearflighted Cobalt hen.

Before Mr. Rogers passed away in August 1993, Ken Grey exhibited two slate hens in his name at the Specialist and Rare Variety Open Show.

After Mr. Rogers died, Ken Grey took on a breeding program with Dr. Margaret Young, Joan Denton, Ken Brock, and Deamonn Mullee.

Several factors contribute to the resurgence of this variety, including the luck Cyril Rogers shared with Dutch fanciers in getting the variety from the same source after it left the U.K.

According to the B.S., slate blue can only be found in the blue series and the green series. As with violet, it can be combined with any color in either series. In the green series, they are difficult to identify.

However, a slate green can appear to be a Grey Green with violet cheek patches rather than blue ones. Therefore, only slates in the Blue Series were recognized.

Ideally, they should not be paired with greys, because it can give the bird a very dark grey appearance.

Physical Features

Slate refers to a series of blue-colored slates, especially the Skyblue slate, which is similar in color to a light grey, but with a bluish tint.

Light Green slates are intermediate shades between light greens and light grey greens. Both blue- and green-series slates exhibit purple-grey or deep violet cheek patches, similar to those of mauves. 

The long tail feathers of slate birds are slightly darker than those of non-slate birds. Other features are unaffected by this mutation.

Dark mutations have a more pronounced effect when combined with slate than they do when combined with Grey mutations. The darker shades of Slate differ much less from one another than Skyblue, Cobalt, and Mauve.

Compared to the Skyblue Slate, the Cobalt Slate and Mauve Slate are distinctly darker, with the Mauve Slate being the darkest. Violet Mauve Slate, whose color is a dense blue-black, is said to be extremely dark.

Differences between Slate Budgerigars and Other Budgerigar Varieties

Slate Budgerigars stand out from other budgerigar varieties mainly because of their distinctive color. Unlike the common green-yellow plumage of wild ancestral budgerigars or the blue/white combination seen in many pet parakeets, Slate Budgerigars have a unique bluish-grey color. 

In the wild, Budgie Parakeets typically have green and yellow feathers with black stripes and markings, along with dark blue-green-black flight and tail feathers. However, through captive breeding programs, budgerigars have been produced in a wide range of colors, excluding red and pink.

Among these variations, Slate Budgerigars are remarkable for their exceptional slate coloration. When combined with Violet, the resulting Violet Mauve Slate showcases an extremely dark, dense blue-black hue. This distinct feature makes Slate Budgerigars one of the darkest-colored budgerigars, bringing them closest to the sought-after black varieties achieved through breeding efforts.


As a sex-linked mutation, the Slate mutation is carried on the X chromosome. The condition is recessive to the wild-type. There are two X chromosomes in males and one X chromosome in hens.

In hens, whatever allele appears on the single X chromosome is fully expressed. Slate (or other sex-related mutations) cannot be detected in hens. In cocks, Slate is recessive, so it needs to be on both X chromosomes (homozygous) for it to exist.

A heterozygous Slate cock is identical to a normal cock. In such cases, the birds are said to have been split for slate.

This gene has been linked to other X-chromosome genes, i.e. to other sex-related mutation genes. The Cinnamon, Ino, and Opaline mutations are among the sex-linked mutations.

It has been suggested that Opaline is closely related to Slate, although cross-over and recombination rates have not been determined.

A number of Cinnamon Slates have been bred without difficulty, suggesting a close linkage exists between Cinnamon and Slate.

Breeding Slate budgies

When breeding Slate budgerigars, it’s important to remember that the variety is sex-linked. This means that only females can express the Slate coloration, while males can carry the gene without showing it.

If a male carrying the Slate gene mates with a female also carrying the gene, their offspring have a chance of inheriting the gene from both parents and expressing the Slate coloration. Quality normals can improve the variety quickly. It’s also worth noting that when the Violet mutation is introduced, the resulting Violet Mauve Slate is said to be extremely dark, of a dense blue-black color.

In the context of sex-linked inheritance, the following pairings are used:

  • Slate cock x Slate hen = 50% slate cocks + 50% slate hens
  • Slate cock x normal hen = 50% normal/slate cocks + 50% slate hens
  • Normal cock x Slate hen = 50% normal/Slate cocks + 50% normal hens
  • Normal/slate cock x slate hen = 25% slate cocks + 25% normal/slate cocks + 25% slate hens + 25% normal hens
  • Normal/slate cock x Normal hen = 25% normal cocks + 25% normal/slate cocks + 25% slate hens + 25% normal hens

Tips for Breeding Slate Budgies

Here are some tips and considerations for breeding Slate Budgerigars:

  1. Understand the Genetics: Since the Slate mutation is sex-linked and recessive, it’s essential to comprehend how these genes pass on to offspring. Only females can showcase the Slate color, while males may carry the gene without displaying it.
  2. Choose Quality Birds: Opt for budgerigars with good health and desirable traits to improve the variety swiftly. Selecting quality normals can contribute to the success of your breeding program.
  3. Introduce Other Mutations: The addition of the Violet mutation results in the highly dark and dense blue-black color of the Violet Mauve Slate. This introduces variety and interest to your breeding efforts.
  4. Provide Proper Care: Ensure proper care for budgerigars, including a balanced diet, a clean and safe living environment, and regular health check-ups, to promote their overall well-being.
  5. Be Patient: Breeding budgerigars, especially for specific mutations like Slate, requires time. Patience and persistence are key to achieving success in your breeding endeavors.

Remember, responsible breeding prioritizes the health and well-being of the birds throughout the entire process.

Caring for Slate Budgies

Taking care of Slate Budgerigars, like all budgies, requires specific attention to ensure their well-being and happiness. Here are some essential care tips:

  • Diet: A well-balanced diet is crucial for Slate Budgerigars. Aim for a 75-100% pelleted diet, a 15-25% natural diet (including vegetables, legumes, grains, and fruit), and limit treats to 10%, such as seeds. Complement pellet diets with fresh vegetables like leafy greens, broccoli, corn, and moderate amounts of fresh fruits. Avoid feeding them avocados, chocolate, sugar, and salt. Keep in mind that budgies are prone to obesity and fatty liver disease, so monitor their food intake carefully.
  • Exercise: Budgies, including Slate Budgerigars, are highly active birds that need regular exercise. Since they are climbing birds, a cage with horizontal bars is preferable. Place toys around the edges of the cage near perches to encourage physical activity.
  • Living Environment: Provide a spacious enclosure for your budgie, as a larger space is better. Avoid placing the cage in drafty areas, direct sunlight, or spots with extreme temperature fluctuations. Regular cleaning of the cage is essential to maintain hygiene and prevent diseases.
  • Regular Check-ups: Schedule regular check-ups every 6-12 months, as birds are adept at hiding illnesses. Keep an eye out for common health issues in budgies, including parasites, obesity, chronic egg-laying, overgrown nails, and various diseases.

By following these care guidelines, you can ensure that your Slate Budgerigars lead healthy and happy lives.

Slate Budgerigars as Pets

Slate Budgerigars share the social, gentle, and affectionate nature typical of their budgie counterparts. These small parrots are highly interactive and can form strong bonds with their human families. Their liveliness and alertness are indicators of good health. Budgies, in general, have high-pitched, quick voices and are quite vocal, adding to their charm. 

Their intelligence allows them to be trained to perform tricks and even learn to speak. Slate Budgerigars make excellent pets for various reasons. Their small size and straightforward care requirements make them suitable for different living situations, including apartments. Known for their playful nature, they can be entertaining with their antics and vocalizations. 

Budgies need mental stimulation, which can be provided through interaction with their owners, making them engaging companions. Additionally, their social disposition often leads them to enjoy the company of another budgie, especially helpful if constant interaction from owners isn’t possible. However, it’s crucial to consider individual bird temperaments when introducing a new companion, as females can be territorial.


  • Dr. Sajjad Ali

    Dr. Sajjad is an Avian expert and loves to treat and help parrots. He has two years of clinical experience in treating and helping parrots as a vet.

    View all posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *