Can Birds crossbreed?

Crossbreeding in-between birds means when two different bird species mate and produce a bird hybrid. This bird hybrid shows the combination of characters from the parent species. But the question is, do birds cross breed? 

Well, the answer to this question is between yes and no. Yes, birds can crossbreed with other birds, but the genetic gap between them should be narrow. In the case when the genetic gap between the birds is wide, or the birds are not closely related, then the cross-breeding between them is almost impossible. 

Birds can crossbreed, and this fact is known as hybridization. However, crossbreeding is only possible between similar birds or birds with the same genus. For example, the mating of a Blue-and-gold macaw and a scarlet macaw results in a Catalina Macaw. This Blue-and-gold macaw and the scarlet macaw both belong to the same genus but are different species.

Also, the birds from different genus can crossbreed, but it is very rare. Still, if there is a very wide genetic gap, then cross-breeding is not possible.    

According to Dr Lovette, around 10 per cent of the birds available worldwide are known to have bred with the bird from other species, either in captivity or in the wild. For example, native black ducks mates with more abundant mallard ducks so frequently. This results in the rarification of the native black ducks. 

Dr Lovette also said that the cross-breeding between birds is more common when both the parents are closely related and belong to the same genus. But occasionally the bird from one genus can pair with the closely related bird belonging to another genus that is separated by millions of years of evolutionary divergence. 

When is the bird hybrid said to be successful?

The bird hybrid produced from the cross mating of birds from different species is said to be successful only when they can reproduce. When the young bird hybrid is fertile, the hybridization is considered successful.

What are the Benefits of crossbreeding the birds?

Hybridizing and cross-breeding two closely related birds results in the passing of the favorable traits of character in the young one.

This is the major advantage of cross-breeding. The passing of favorable traits promotes the survival of the endangered species. 

Also, it is a great idea to create the offspring having good characters from both the parents.

Crossbreeding between the birds can lead to the production of very attractive and long-living bird that can prove to be a fantastic pet.

Though all crossbreed birds are not fertile, but crossbreeding is also a great way to eliminate certain diseases. 

What are the demerits of crossbreeding birds?   

 Excess crossbreeding can leads to less diversification in the bird species, and it will become difficult for you to control the potential genetic mutation. 

Less genetic diversity is potentially hazardous in the sense that vulnerable genes will be present in the majority of the birds, for example, if a certain disease affects the bird with a particular gene.

If that vulnerable gene is present in the majority of bird species, then all the birds will become vulnerable.  

Also, the cross-breeding can discomfort the bird. Because promoting a particular gene can leads to the production of the character that can damage the bird’s health, or it can impair them in another way. 

Too much cross-breeding can cause breeding depression, and the produced bird will be less fit and weak. Also, encouraging particular traits may have an impact on the evolution of the bird species.

In the process of cross-breeding, some genes might get disappeared and lost from the gene pool. Once the gene disappeared, it becomes very difficult to bring that gene back. 

Why can’t all birds cross breed?

All birds can not crossbreed because of the difference in their genetic makeup. Also, the difference in the sizes, and look of the bird hinders the process of the mating between two different bird. 

The difference in the song and mating ritual of the birds can also make the cross-breeding process very rare or impossible. 

Though many of the birds look similar and share similar characters also, but cross-breeding between them is impossible because of the difference in their genetic structure. This makes them incompatible with each other. 

Crossbreeding these incompatible birds in captivity leads to either failure in conception or production of infertile young hybrid.    

Popular Hybrid birds:

1] Canada Goose (Branta Canadensis) * domestic goose (Anser anser domesticus)    

2] Domestic canary * goldfinch

3] A probable galah × little corella

4] Lady Amherst’s pheasant × golden pheasant

5] black grouse × hazel grouse


Crossbreeding between birds in the wild is considered good and is a good sign of the creation of new species with all good characters. Many biologists consider cross-breeding in the wild is crucial for the evolution and development of new species. 

But the cross-breeding in captivity is opposed by several scientists. Some oppose it for the ethical issues as it is against nature to produce the crossbreed bird that displays attractive colors and is more attractive. 

The final words

So it is possible to mate closely related birds either from the same genus or from a closely related genus. But in the case when the birds have different looks, and sizes or have a wider genetic gap, then it is almost impossible to breed them. 

Also, crossbreeding in captivity can lead to either failure in conception or production of infertile birds. 

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