Articles

  • The adventure of the zebrafinch white cheeks

    1. Introduction

    First and foremost, I would like to thank the people I have worked with on the evolution of white cheek zebra finches over the past few years.
    This text therefore not only tells about my experiences but also their experiences. Thanks to Paul Chabot, Jan Van Looy and Wessel Vermeulen. When I use the term "I" later, you must understand "we". We do not agree on all the details. Fortunately, because then we can discuss it. And we continue to encourage each other on the results to improve and the conclusions to be made.
    At our zebra finches, everyone knows the cheeks and the black cheeks. In these two mutations, both males and females have colored cheeks. We now also have the white cheeks. So we have white, brown and black cheeks.

    Zebrafinch white cheeks

    2. Historical

    The first time a white-cheeked zebra finch appeared was when Jacques Vanduren wondered if he had bred a new mutation. Some of its birds could be admired in the exhibitions of the B.Z.C. (Belgian Zebrafinch Club).
    Jacques also wrote an article on this subject in our magazine, illustrated with photos of details. It was the end of the 90s of the previous century. Jacques was unlucky enough to lose his breeding and eventually the white cheek zebra finch disappeared. However, he had even given birds to other hobbyists in order to avoid the risk of extinction. But these other amateurs couldn't build a strain. Result: the white cheeks are returned to square one.
    A few years ago, the founding president of B.Z.C., Paul Chabot, discovered a "special" zebra finch. Paul Chabot is the one who, in his time, took the first steps with a male of the orange breast mutation. So he had experience building a "special" strain.
    This bird also had black in its cheeks, which is why Paul went in search of a black-cheeked partner for this zebra finch. His mindfulness was good for the white cheeks. For he directly raised white cheeks !
    That's why he decided the white cheek factor was dominant. But Paul also used other zebra finches besides the gray black cheeks. When Jan and I went to interview Paul, we saw White Cheeks combined with masked, Black Chest Mutation and even crested. Paul explained to us that he had had many deaths among his birds, he knew of Jacques's experience and he was betting on a lethal factor in white cheeks.
    Paul gave each of us a zebra finch because he was afraid the next breeding season would be disastrous. His secret hope was that we would help him. Then it turned out that the health of his birds was the cause of his growing problems. So we were able to eliminate the lethal factor from our reasoning.
    In Dordrecht Paul met Wessel Vermeulen who also had zebra finches with partially white cheeks. Wessel even bred zebra finches having three colors in the cheeks. They show white (the tear line is absent), then comes black and normal brown in the posterior arch of the cheeks.

    Zebrafinch white cheeks Zebrafinch white cheeks

    In the meantime Jan and I have started breeding with our white cheeks. Our goal was to understand the inheritance of white cheeks.
    When Jan and I started breeding many told us they thought it was a combination. Some thought of the black chest mutation, others of the black chest black cheek jumpsuit. Several had already seen traces of white cheeks. And indeed, we did not speak of white cheeks only with us. The internet, as we know, makes contacts all over the world. I know that in other countries we talk about white cheeks: Israel, Italy, France.
    Let's take a more in-depth look at the white cheeks. What is important: we make a distinction between combinations of white cheeks with black cheeks and those without black cheeks. This distinction will be the common thread of this story.

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  • Zebrafinch Infirmary

    I share with you in this article how I take care of my zebrafinches.
    You will find the first aid kit to have on hand to be ready !

    First and foremost, I visually inspect each zebra finch on a daily basis, from beak to paws, behavior, warning signs and also the consistency of droppings.
    Anticipating will always be the best way to avoid health problems, injuries, etc. Sometimes it is necessary to review the equipment that we use, the diet to improve the conditions that will ensure the health of the birds. When you notice a health problem, intervene the same day.

    Here are the solutions proposed to overcome the common care and various problems during the life of our zebra finches.


    Closed ring tightening the tab

    Use a ring cutter to remove it.
    To be inserted between the tab and the ring. If it causes a small injury, apply yellow betadine.

    Coupe bague 3

    Swollen paw

    Apply an ointment such as Cortisedermyl (or equivalent containing 0.5% cortisone in pharmacies).
    In one or two applications (1 per day) the paw loosens.
    Cortisedermyl 05 crme 1

    Cracked paw, crusty

    Padsect (by Comed)
    Relieves and heals, to be applied every day if necessary.

    Padsect pour pattes craqueles crouteuses

    Irritated eye


    Apply physiological serum or preparation with chamomile.
    Clear the eye and put one drop per day until improvement.

    Serum physiologique 1

    Open wound

    Use yellow betadine or propolis (without mother tincture) or biseptin, diode tincture, or other iodine healing agent.
    I use it most often for small leg injuries, after removing droppings or the like.

    Betadine jaune

    Congested and fatty liver

    Administer a solution based on choline, such as sedochol, comin cholin B-complex (from Comed) or charcoal extract.
    In these cases, do not give more mash, switch to a diet composed only of seeds. As a preventive measure, I distribute B-complex cholin in the water every 2 weeks.

    Sedochol 500ml brockamp

    Laying sickness, egg retention

    1 drop of liquid calcium (Calcivet), mitosyl ointment, petroleum jelly, oil.
    Be careful not to overdose the liquid calcium.

    Calcivet calcium liquide

    Diarrhea, watery or soft, smelly droppings


    Administer half a capsule of ultra yeast in a 25cc fountain (mix well), for 1 to 2 days. Another solution: Give or have ingested a small piece of charcoal (prefer the packages sold intended for birds), this will clean the intestines.
    For minor cases, this often occurs during laying or feeding.

    Ultra levure 50 mg

    Scabies (of the beak and legs)

    Apply pyrégale, cade oil, or propolis (without mother tincture).
    First, isolate the subject. Use a cotton swab for precise and easy location.

    Pyregale 1

    Red lice, Canada lice, feather lice and other mites

    Sprinkle Pyrévol (powder in the nest or on the bird), poustop (powder to mix with food, red) or essential oil of lavender.
    Quite rare in zebrafinches. Proximity to canaries may be the cause, they are more subject to it. Bathing with bath salt (like Comed's Bath Salt) also helps with infestations.

    Pyrevol contre les poux rouges poux du canada poux de plumes et acariens

    Inner ear parasites

    Symptom: Bird looking up and having difficulty perching (Twirling).
    Isolate the bird. Apply 1 drop of Stronghold (sold in pharmacies) on contact with the skin in the neck.

    Stronghold

    Deteriorating feathers, holes (often noticeable in wing feathers)

    Most commonly caused by an internal parasite. 1 drop of ivomec on the skin, available from the veterinarian and some merchant.
    It is best to treat all zebrafinches in contact with proven cases. Remove damaged feathers for proper regrowth.

    Ivomec

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  • Preparation for competitions

    The competition represents the culmination of his breeding season for the zebra finch breeder. This will be the best method to check if the new birds correspond to the standard, it will also be an opportunity to compare your own results with those of other breeders. The progression in his breeding necessarily involves the comparison of his birds with those of other breeders. The competitions therefore represent THE privileged moment which ends a whole year of breeding.

    The first step for the breeder will be the selection of his zebra finches. Usually around July 15, the young zebra finches are sorted: you have to distinguish between farmed birds and show birds. The zebra finch is a "finished" bird and not a working bird: a carrier bird will (normally) not be judged, a female with cheek suckers will be sanctioned, etc. When possible, plan to prepare replacements: the breeder is not immune to a general condition problem that arises just before the competition. Ditto for the preparation of the stams (group of 4 identical birds), planning 5-6 birds seems reasonable to compensate for any unforeseen events.

    In order for the zebra finch presented to have plumage in perfect condition, do not hesitate to tear off the damaged or broken feathers.

    Le diamant mandarin en preparation concours photo 2

     

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  • Select the aptitude to breed !

    Let's first review the value of the word "Breed":

    - Provide the care necessary for the development of someone, of an animal, from its birth to a certain point of completion: Breeding your young.
    - Nourish, maintain its existence until it has acquired a certain strength.
    - Feed and protect animals or plants to promote their development.

    The zebra finch is naturally a formidable breeder. Laying, brooding and feeding go smoothly. The couple (both the female and the male) are enthusiastic about it, are completely busy raising their brood.
    As an anecdote, I will always remember a father who after the loss of the mother, had given everything to finish raising their offspring. I have the image of this devoted male who could not take it any longer, who waver at the end of the day in front of me, but tirelessly continue to feed his young until weaning. I gave him all the care possible to support him during this period.

    2 jeunes gris et leur pere 2

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  • Forms of dominance

    A little history

    As we know today, Gregor Mendel, best known for his experiments with peas, was the basis of genetics. He demonstrated through his experiments that if he crossed two peas (F1) with different characteristics such as flower color, leaf size ... Then the offspring (F2) kept the characteristics of a single parent. All the flowers of these young peas had the same color and size of leaves.
    It’s as if they “lost” one of the properties. When he crossed these young F2 peas with each other, the F1 characteristics reappeared among the offspring of the F3 generation. Mendel called these characteristics shown by F2: Dominant. And the characteristics hidden in the F2 have been called recessive.

    Currently we still call it dominant and recessive. However we do know that Mendel discovered "complete dominance". There are indeed other forms of dominance. We already know these forms so we will mainly bring a few provisions to remember.

    Some concepts

    We know that genes carry characteristics and that these genes are located on chromosomes. There are genes that deal with the color of the eyes, the color of the legs, the size of the beak… Chromosomes are found in the cells of the body: They are stored in the nucleus of each cell. In each nucleus of each cell are the genes for the color of the eyes, the color of the legs, the size of the beak ... However, the functioning of the “color of the eyes” genes is manifested only in the eyes. In the paws, the "eye color" genes do not show up. Each cell therefore “knows” where it is located in the body and which genes it must activate.
    Chromosomes go in pairs, all genes are found in pairs. So for the eye color gene, we have two genes. This also applies to the color of the legs, the size of the beak ... These two genes for the color of the eyes can cause a color of the eyes blue. It is also possible that one gene is responsible for the color blue and the other for the color brown. (which does not mean that the being will have one blue eye and the other brown, the brown of the eyes is dominant over the blue, so both eyes will be brown).

    Les formes de la dominance 1 Les formes de la dominance 1 2

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  • Zebra finch standards

    Indispensable reference document for breeders who select zebra finches.

    I carried out research work on the different zebra finch standards applied in France, Belgium, England, Italy and the Netherlands. Here are the standards on which the judges rely to decide between zebra finches in competitions. These documents will be very useful to you depending on the country where you are exhibiting.

     

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  • Prepare for the breeding season

    As you embark on a breeding season, here I give you some tips for preparing your zebra finches for the next few months.
    Our birds are certainly easy to breed, but perhaps these are details that will encourage reluctant couples to breed or produce more fertilized eggs. This article does not pretend to give the method to prepare your zebra finches for a breeding season but simply to inform about a possible organization for an optimal breeding season. This is the one I put in place.

    The selection of breeders was made at the end of the summer. The choice of couplings is of course essential, and always chosen according to the qualities to be improved and defects to be corrected in relation to the zebra finch sought, while trying to respect as much as possible the "rule" of chimmel couplings on intensive and vice versa. It will take the necessary time to form breeding pairs; many criteria must be taken into account depending on its objectives (show birds, working birds, carrier birds, etc.). It has happened that very good animals have not been mated because they have not found the perfect match. Better to be patient than to mate to “number”. Quality will always take precedence over quantity.

    Couple diamant mandarin isabelle popn1
     

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  • The orange chest mutation in classic colors

    Since we will be discussing the orange breast zebrafinch (PO) in this article, it is certainly interesting to dwell a bit on the history of this mutation first.
    The orange breast mutation (PO) is believed to have originated in Belgium. I consciously write "supposed" because the first orange breast (PO) was actually found at a bird merchant. In Dutch literature in particular, long before the discovery of the first orange breast (PO) in Belgium, zebra finches were described there with characteristics that we can now attribute to orange breast (PO) wearers.
    What we are certain of anyway is that the honor of the discovery of the orange breast (PO) goes to a certain Mr. De C. who in 1978 noticed a rather special gray male in a store. This male had an orange breast bar when normally it should have been black. Mr. DE C. bought this copy, but at the breeding nothing came out of what he had hoped for. At the end of 1978, Paul CH., President of the BZC at that time, acquired this male. There were good and bad surprises with this subject, because unfortunately this male did not live very long. Fortunately Paul CH. had been able to get some young people before. Orange breast (PO) is inherited autosomal recessively compared to the wild form. The orange factor must therefore be doubly present to become visible. He therefore crossed young people between them and quickly took out the first orange breasts (PO).

    Already the first orange breast breeder (PO) made the mistake of not combining and developing the orange breast (PO) with classic colors (gray, brown, pale back, masked) but he rushed directly on the combination of the orange breast with black breast (PN) and other mutations. From that moment on, every orange breast breeder’s dream was born to produce an all-orange zebra finch.
    Due to having burned the breeding stage in the classic colors, the following question remained :

    Are there any specific characteristics that we see in our classic orange breasts, are they just annoying derivatives of the presence of the black breast mutation (PN) or are these specific effects of the orange breast mutation ?

    What do I mean by that? Often the orange chest gray or orange chest brown reveal not well defined cheeks. Likewise, there is often an orange hem on the fenders. Also, the chest frequently flows upwards and the belly shows patterns. All these observed characteristics are quite disturbing.

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  • Pale back, masked and masked old type, three allelic versions

    Why are the mutations in zebrafinch of pale back, masked (new type) and masked old type combined with each other so difficult to predict !?
    Quite simply because we cannot speak at the genetic level of different mutations but rather of allelic versions of a single gene. The pale back, the masked and the old type mask are due to the same gene but which has three allelic versions.
    To understand well let's make the parallel with man, the color of the eyes for example, whatever our eye color, our iris color and coded by the same gene, but this gene has many different versions (alleles) which allow us to have the color panel that we know.

    Now that we know a little more about what complicates these crosses, let's take a look at how each allele behaves in relation to each other.
    Everything is a story of dominance and co-dominance or recessivity.

    A small table to illustrate all this :

    Allele / allele Pale back Masqued Masqued OT
    Pale back x Pale back Pale back
    Masqued Pale back x Masqued
    Masqued OT Pale back Masqued x

    *OT = Old type

    In this double entry table you can see that it allele dominates the other, the bird will therefore have the phenotype of the allele which dominates, be careful, it is not because the allele is dominated that it does not not influence. See pale back / OT mask, the back is more diluted because of the masked OT allele.

    From this result we can draw the first conclusions :

    • The pale back can be masked or OT masked.
    • The masked can be a masked OT split but cannot be a pale back wearer (pb dominates masked = pb / masked). *pb = pale back
    • The masked OT cannot carry a pale back, nor a masked person because the latter two dominate him.

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  • Zebra finch genetic calculation software

    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.

     

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  • Application of zebrafinch Genetics

    Here is a site, also available in application, dedicated to the calculation of the genetics of zebrafinch. ZebraCalc allows you to have the probabilities of results depending on the mutations of the respective parents.

    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.

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  • What do we mean by zebrafinch "English type"?

    The term English type for some zebrafinch is sometimes used, but what is meant by "English type" !?
    Can this type of bird (see video) qualify as an English type ?
    Where is it enough that the bird comes from England ? ... Or on the contrary, is it even more typical !?

    Young zebrafinch of English type in video :

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