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.
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.
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.