The zebra finch black faced black breasted orange breast is a spectacular bird; spectacular by its colors, which prove how the combination of mutating and attractive.
Unfortunately, as with any multiple combination, working birds to improve their strain requires patience, careful selection and specific goals to be set at the start of any breeding season. It is these objectives which, if achieved, will cause the quality of the birds in his breeding to increase steadily.
The great difficulty of the combination lies in the multitude of faults, more or less important, that are frequently encountered in this bird on display. Here is a non-exhaustive list :
- the points of the blanks tend to disappear or turn into a blurry design
- it is rare to find birds with a head that is both completely orange and whose shape remains correct
- the head is often too small compared to the body of the bird
- it is frequent that the orange breast or black breast mutations are not expressed at 100%: appearance of black rejections in the breast or the rectrices, maintenance of a more or less horizontal drawing on the rectrices, orange color on the belly which does not descend far enough to the anal region.
When looking to select your zebra finches, the question of the arrangement of a matured piece becomes inevitable. In this room dedicated to your birds, the breeding battery is practically essential. The breeding battery must combine several functions and be designed so that it facilitates the daily maintenance and care of your winged friends.
I will show you what I use. The advantages and disadvantages, as well as what can still be improved.
I have endeavored to set up practical equipment for cleaning and above all which optimizes my time spent in care, maintenance, cleaning, etc., while maintaining a good environment for all the birds.
The breeding battery or breeding cages
I use 2 sets of 8 GEHU brand cages, each have the following dimensions length 50 cm, width 40 cm, height 40 cm.
This breeding battery is made of melamine treated wood against humidity, the advantage is that the whole is completely removable (facilitates any moving of your breeding room). You will find the dealers of this brand in Links.
The cages are separated by removable PVC walls. Once removed, this allows for one meter long flight cages. I have them fitted with a stainless steel bottom grid to avoid contact with the droppings that fall into the bottom of the drawer. I put wood shavings at the bottom of the cages as litter (absorbs moisture from droppings and retains bird dust).
Ultimately, these 16 cages can be used for breeding as well as one meter flight space for weaning, rest period, etc.
I made this glossary to illustrate in photos the existing mutations in the zebrafinch.
He can help you identify the mutation (s) of your zebra finches.
Important precision :To identify the genotype of your zebrafinch, it will be necessary to take into account that a zebra finch can carry a mutation without being mutant.
Being a carrier (/, split) of a mutation means that it is partially present (genetically speaking). From the visual point of view the partially carried mutation will not be seen or only by some clues present in the appearance of the bird.
In this case, it will be necessary to have a trained eye to determine the genotype. Sometimes check couplings will be necessary.
Your zebra finch can also have several mutations, the possible combinations are numerous.
This glossary is based solely on the phenotype (visual characteristics) and single mutations (not combined).
The gray zebrafinch is not a mutation, it is the original (wild) type.
1. Gender-related mutations
The female can never be a split, so she is either mutant or non-mutant.
The male can be a split of the mutation.
The young zebrafinch are now about three weeks old; seeking to escape the lack of space, the oppressive heat of the brood or simply wanting to discover the world, they will begin to emerge from the nest.
This outing is not definitive, as they still return for 2 to 3 days, but less and less often. Sometimes, when the young begin to grow up, one of them starts to fly out of the nest a few days before the expected release date, you can leave it out of the nest if conditions allow, the parents will continue to take care of it. If you need to put it back in the nest, place it gently preferably in the evening and keep your hand in front of the fly-off hole, until all the young have regained their calm.
One morning when all the young are out, the nest will be removed and cleaned before a new laying or in preparation for the next breeding season. The nest will be restored when the young are weaned and thus separated from their parents.
It is common for parents to start a new laying before the end of weaning the young. There are no rules on the matter: Sometimes the parents start hatching while taking care of the young that come out of the nest, sometimes they will pluck the young and stop taking care of them. It is up to the breeder to be attentive in his observations. At home, I prefer to remove the eggs laid on the ground to give them to another couple or to give them back to the couple after weaning when the timing allows.
The weaning period corresponds to the period when the young bird will learn to feed itself and thus acquire its autonomy. It is therefore a delicate period when it will be important to observe the birds so as not to make the mistake of separating a young person from his parents too early. Usually a young zebrafinch will be weaned around 35 days of life. Again, the observation is strict; and no need to take risks, it is a matter of a few days.
The young chicks were fed by their parents who regurgitated the seeds and/or mash that is distributed daily at this time. Now they must learn to peel the seeds and eat them alone. The sooner the chicks are self-sufficient, the sooner they will be weaned.
The parents themselves reduce the regurgitation of the pate.
But if young people feel the need they will go looking for it alone, it is easy to access food that will serve as a transition. In addition, some breeders provide young birds with sprouted seeds: These «soft» seeds are easy to peel and ingest. For my part, as soon as I leave the nest, the birds have at their disposal some millet in clusters (red and yellow that I alternate every day).
1. What are the causes ?
False moult is not a disease ! It is caused by a sudden change: Light, temperature, draft or stress.
2. The effects of a false moult
The zebrafinch enters a period of out-of-season moulting which will weaken it. To be avoided during breeding or competition period.
The bird victim of a false molt will need a supply of vitamins and minerals to help regrowth of the feathers.
3. A remedy used by breeders
To remedy this false moult, there is a method used by breeders which consists of letting a peeled and cut onion macerate in a liter of water for 3 to 4 days (protected from light).
Then, put a tablespoon of the juice obtained in a liter of water and distribute in the drinking trough for a week, renewing this mixture every day.
1. Benefits of ringing your zebrafinch
This will allow you to know their year of birth and to identify them, which will be essential for establishing a genealogy and monitoring your breeding. Each ring will be the identity card of each of your zebrafinch.
In addition, if you wish to have one of your zebra finches compete, only those who are ringed can participate. The ringed zebra finches of the current and previous year are eligible to participate in a gathering.
Then, a breeder will always prefer to buy a ringed zebrafinch on which he can be sure of the year of birth of this one and be informed of its origin.
2. How and when to ring the chicks
Video that illustrates how to handle the baby bird to ring it :
The zebrafinch gray is from the wild type.
It corresponds to the original type of Mandarin diamond. It is therefore strictly speaking not a mutation.
However, the gray zebrafinch we know to this day, is very different from its Australian ancestor. Following a selection by the breeders, the type, size and color of it have changed a lot.
Since gray is the basis of the mutations existing in the gray series (black breast gray, white breast gray, pale back gray, etc.), the rearing of this one is essential for the perennity of all these mutations.
The gray zebrafinch will thus "regenerate" all these mutations.
3. Who is gray breeding for ?
The breeding of the gray zebrafinch is recommended for beginners and can also become very exciting for the more experienced.
Indeed, despite an attraction at first glance less spectacular than a zebrafinch with orange or pastel colors, its breeding is even more interesting.
In countries with mild climatic conditions and ideal for our birds, this allows them to be reared outdoors or with sufficient light in a room thanks to the sun.
It is different in other countries and depending on the period or the breeder decides to mate his birds. Sometimes to make this period coincide with the holidays or others.
In this article, I describe solutions that I know to overcome the lack of light and give the right conditions to our birds according to the different periods of their life in our breeding rooms.
1. What lighting brings
Suitable artificial lighting can ensure the activation of vitamin D3 essential for the growth of young zebrafinch.
Vitamin D3 deficiency can result in a misshapen or limp beak or paw. Conversely, do not overdo the administration of vitamin supplements which will produce even more harmful effects.
2. What we are looking for when managing the light
This makes it possible to be able to breed in the unfavorable seasons to recreate the ideal conditions. Simulate in some ways at best which will stimulate the birds to reproduction or to rest.
In winter, prolonging the light can also give birds more time to feed in order to withstand low temperatures (I am thinking of the case of outdoor breeding).
Conversely, reducing the length of the day can help calm a bird. For example, an overly excited male who destroys the nest to start a new lay. Giving it a break in a dark place can temper it before another attempt.
The changes in brightness duration between 2 periods must be gradual. Too abrupt a change can cause false moult or unusual behavior. A change of 5 minutes per day is suitable. You will notice as changes in behavior, excitations during the increase of this duration.
3. Solutions to manage light
a) Cycle with 2 programmers and 1 night light
The most economical will be to use 2 programmers (mechanical or electronic) and a night light.
(Source: International Ornithological Congress C.O.I.)
- Order : Passeriformes
- Family : Estrildity
- Genus : Taeniopygia
- Species : Guttata
- Subspecies : Taeniopygia guttata
Zebrafinch (Taeniopygia guttata), sometimes referred to as Mandarin for short, is the most common and familiar estrildity in central Australia.
2. Subspecies and distribution
There are two distinct subspecies.
Taeniopygia guttata guttata, the Timorese zebrafinch, ranges from Lombok in the Sunda Islands or Nusa Tanggara in Indonesia to Sermata, in addition to coastal areas around mainland Australia.
The other subspecies is Taeniopygia gutatta castonatis. The latter is found over much of mainland Australia and some of these varieties are considered domestic.
The morphological differences between the two subspecies include differences in size.
Taeniopygia guttata guttata is smaller (8 cm) than Taeniopygia guttata castanotis and does not bear the same distinguishing mark on the throat and upper part of the breast.
This bird measures 8 to 10 cm (wild form) or 12 to 14 cm (domestic form) for a mass of about 15g.
This bird can live for 7 to 10 years. It is a robust bird that can withstand temperatures of -15 °C, knowing that it can survive at least + 40 °C.
Zebra finches inhabit Australia's open steppes with scattered bushes and trees, but have adapted to human disturbance, taking advantage of man-made water holes, and spaces opened up by deforestation. They go to cities and show up all over Australia.
The objective of this article is not to impose a management of breeding or create a controversy, but to share my experience of breeding, my observations as well as the difficulties I have encountered for about fifteen years of breeding zebrafinch in this combination of mutations.
The black breast is a mutation of design due to a different distribution of eumelanim in the plumage of the bird. The orange breast mutation is a color mutation: The eumelanin of the designs is transformed into brown orange phaeomelanin, which pulls towards the red-rust color for the best subjects. I do not think it is important to specify in detail how each mutation we already know alters on the mutated bird.
The ideal competition male, in addition to a correct shape and size such as a classic, must have no black discharge into the chest, must have a parotic zone (the color: between the beak and the cheek) white, a chest that rises as high as possible under the beak, a strong extension of the cheeks (the cheeks meet at the back of the skull) without running on the back (which for me represents a non-selective extension of the color), a gray back and not loaded with brown veil as is often the case, drawings on primary and secondary remiges (white+orange), the most intense red/rust color possible, the largest belly design (orange flames). To this it is necessary to add that the drawings of blanks must be marked with white ovals on orange background; The drawings of the tiles of tails are of course elongated.
The female as the male must be gray of back, shape and size correct, have a belly drawing (the flames)( note that this drawing is not orange as on the males but rather pulls towards the gray-brown), back drawings (on the outer edge of the remiges), a chest that rises very high, drawings of orange cheeks, flanks marked with dots and orange color also.
Should the female have the darkest possible cheeks and flanks ? I have no answer.
What is certain is that the first female orange breast had no orange cheeks and that the Dutch standard required females without cheeks a few years ago (now there are two standards accepted and judged differently: with drawing and without drawing…: type 1, type 2 in competitions). The female without drawn cheeks keeps the tail tiles as orange as possible. Most of my breeding females do not have cheeks, it is a character that I do not select specially.
I sometimes read on the internet that to release a good intensive male in color it is absolutely necessary a female with very orange cheeks, it is not true. We come out very good colored birds with females without cheeks if they are very grey. By “very grey” I mean birds whose eumelanin supersedes phaeo. This does not mean that certain characters should not be present (belly drawing, caudal overlying, eyelid etc.). I can say that the female without cheek has no influence on the intensity of the color on the males.
Some peculiarities are specific to the mutation combination
The orange breast seems to intensify the extension of the orange color of the drawings. We often observe subjects with a complete extension of the cheeks at the back of the skull, and this with a chest that goes up very high under the beak (compared with a pure black chest). This extension, when important, tends to color the color. I do not agree with those who say that orange-colored birds are black-faced birds. This coloration appears as well on black breast orange breast without the black face mutation for several generations.
I do not select the orange color of the color. Certainly it is a defect present in my birds but raising black face black breast orange breast, I do not pay attention to it.
In competitions, it depends a lot on the judges but in general, if the bird is good, they do not get heavily punished. Note that there are several kinds of orange colors, which a photo does not show well. Rusty orange colors like the chest and that come to blend with the cheek (not good) or an orange veil, lighter than the cheek and that stands out again (it goes better). But on big competitions, this is what the beautiful bird will miss to rank against the best.
The breeding and competition of zebrafinch has grown considerably over the past fifteen years. In order to improve the size of the new mutations, breeders also have recourse to conventional "split" birds.
Some manage to combine several mutations. All this made it essential to know a minimum of applied genetics. It is this minimum that I would like to present to novice breeders.
This is not a complete course in genetics, but a simple presentation of the method I use preceded by some basics.
2. The zebrafinch and its mutations
A zebrafinch has a number of visible characters (size, shape, designs, color, sex) that constitute its phenotype. It can have, in addition to other unexpressed traits (it is said to be a split). The set of traits, expressed or not, is called the genotype.
A young zebrafinch grows out of an egg cell, the result of the fusion of the nucleus of a father's sperm and the nucleus of the female's egg. The bird's genetic program is already there: A series of cell divisions and coded information will (or not) trigger the appearance of the characters. The encoded information is carried by genes located on long filaments contained in the nucleus: chromosomes.
All chromosomes go in pairs: each chromosome therefore has its counterpart.
There are two categories of chromosomes :
- Sex chromosomes :
• XX in the male
• XY in the female
- Autosome chromosomes.
The gray zebrafinch living in Australia is the source of all of our farmed zebra finches. It has a whole set of genes distributed in its chromosomes.Whenever a new mutation has appeared, there has been a change in an original gene (and it has been shown to be hereditary). The original gene and the mutated gene are located in the same place called a locus on each of the homologous chromosomes.
Both genes are alleles.
A bird is pure (homozygous) when all of its alleles carry identical information.
A bird is heterozygous when at least one pair of alleles carries different information about the same trait.
We currently know about twenty different mutations of the gray zebrafinch.
Small practical software allowing to have the probabilities of the results of a mating according to the mutation (s) of the respective parents. It can be put on USB sticks, no need for an internet connection to use it.
Before that, we will obviously need to know the genotype of each parent. To help you determine the mutation or combination of mutations to which your zebrafinch belong, you can refer to: Illustrated glossary of mutations in zebrafinch.
That said, I would say that this application is only an aid. The best thing will always be to understand how each mutation is transmitted. For this, I also advise you to have a good basis to consult the article: Zebrafinch genetics : Instructions.