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 first zebrafinch presented at the exhibition were far from those we now have in our farms. They were rather filiform and small in all respects resembling the majority of the birds that we currently find at the pet store on the corner.
The evolution does not know made in a day but it has been relatively fast. Here we will talk about the grey zebrafinch, all simply because it is my specialty, and I am starting to know it well.
We can observe that the greys, which are a classic (We call «classic» the greys and the basic mutations that are the brown, pale back and masked.), presented in the major exhibitions is no longer very far from the perfect grey. The type and size are for the most part excellent level and the difference is mainly on the color.
To locate each descriptive terms used in the rest of the article, you can use this diagram: Descriptive terms in zebrafinch.
1. The main defects of grey males
In recent years many defects have appeared in the gray we have the leisure to see in our exhibitions. I’m going to introduce a few of them that I think are most commonly encountered on display or on our farms.
a) The stripes behind the cheeks
For the last couple of years, at least from what I’ve personally noticed, we’ve been seeing signs of zebra around the cheek. This defect is rather noticeable in black cheek greys, but rather recent in grey males. It is still time to eradicate it from gray strains before it is fully generalized to grey zebrafinch.
Because of the similarity to the defect in black cheeks, I do not think it can be equated with a black cheek factor. Indeed, this defect appears even in strains having no affiliation with a strain of black cheeks.
On the other hand, we can think that this phenomenon is due to a high concentration of eumelanin (black), which is sought in gray for a dark back and in black cheeks for an intense black color.
b) Tear spreading in the cheeks
Another defect is the tear, which gives an impression of diffusion in the cheek by the presence of some black feathers in them, and of a line under the eye. Usually in my breeding these are birds that have deep chestnut cheeks. I think we still have it, we can equate it to an excess of eumelanin in this area.
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 :
In this article, you will find all the selection criteria to look for in an exhibition zebrafinch.
From the tip of the beak to the end of the tail of the zebrafinch : 11.5 cm.
Impression of strength - Short, stocky waist - Round head - Tight neck - Relatively broad and round chest.
The head, neck, back and tail should form a single line with minimal indentation in the nape and at the intersection of the tail at the height of the rump.
The curve formed by the rounding of the chest and the belly line should be regular from the throat to the anal region.
The back line cannot be crushed and the ventral line cannot be dropped.
All parts of the body should be in harmony with each other.
Well-rounded seen from all angles - Relatively wide front view - Must be in perfect harmony with the beak and body - Eyes placed approximately in the center of the head, very lively and dark in color unless the standard of the specified variety does not give it otherwise.