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.
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 :
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 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.
The aim of this article is not to establish an unstoppable rule for the recognition of a gray male split (carrying) the black breast mutation. Rather, it aims to gather the clues that will allow you to identify it.
For this, every detail of the mutation is taken over, according to what I observed during the selection of my strain of gray black chest.
Before starting to analyze each possible clue, it seems important to me to bear in mind that the black chest mutation changes the shape of the drawings. To identify a split of the black chest mutation, I also advise you to take into account all the clues described in this article.
Let’s proceed and analyze the phenotype of a gray black breast from the head to the rectrices in comparison to a gray split the black breast mutation. To identify each descriptive term used, you can use this diagram : Descriptive terms in zebrafinch.
1. Mustachial line
Black chest : The moustachial line will be pronounced and intense black.
Split (/) Black chest : The moustachial line may be more pronounced than on a gray, however this does not constitute for me a sufficient clue.
2. Tear line
Black chest : The tear line disappears (ideally according to the standard) or only a fine line remains.
Split (/) black chest : Different cases depending on the force of expression of the mutation in the split.
- The tear line is present and fine :
- Tear line is present and wide :
- In some cases, the tear line of a split black chest may also be absent. It will be necessary to rely on the other clues to know if it is a split or a black breast in its own right.
Black chest : The drawing of the cheeks will extend up and back of the head.
Through several media, we sometimes read statements or the establishment of what one might call "cooking recipes" concerning the breeding of our zebrafinch.
I think that of a general nature these can mislead us and even prevent real progress. It is therefore always a shame to want to freeze certain rules without foundation and constructive spirit in this way.
What is the state of mind of a true breeder, worthy of the name !?
We have a great passion, this is often what I am told when I present it to neophyte friends.
It takes a lot of time, sometimes investment in our lives .. If we want good results in breeding. We each have a sometimes different vision of the bird we are trying to achieve through our patience and perseverance which can sometimes be counted in years.
A passion where there are no ready-made recipes as there are so many parameters. Making the experience, the observation of breeders the main base.
We will agree that this happens above all in the breeding room, in front of the birds and that the results do not come like fast food! Impatient or follower of "I want / have" to abstain.
A breeder, a real one. With great patience and cultivating humility, will in general be discreet and will most often avoid asserting knowing that genetics, selection has countless facets and that there is always something to be done. Learn.
1. Define your objectives
First, in my opinion, it is necessary to target and define its objectives: Choice of mutation (s) to be selected, studies of the characteristics of the chosen mutation (s), knowledge of the type of genetic transmission, creating a network of breeder likely to work on similar objectives to have starting subjects. The breeders will need to have confidence in your project and your insight. They will also be concerned about the fate of their surrendered birds.
Essential conditions to then start the construction of a strain and start a selection in order to tend towards your defined objectives like any project.
Finally, define your idea of the bird you want to get. Without forgetting the characteristics of the mutation or combination in which you are projecting yourself.
2. Tips for getting started
Choose the starting zebrafinch with the fewest possible flaws. Be especially careful not to start with birds of uncertain genotype.
Example: If you have a project to build a strain of gray, check if they would not carry a mutation with recessive inheritance (like black chest, black cheeks).
Ask the breeder giving you your first specimens, ask to see the parents to be better fixed. Observe the different qualities and areas for improvement of each one, keeping in mind the zebra finch you want to achieve.
Observe the harmony and the whole of the birds of the breeder, a homogeneity will make you appear a good work of the breeder.
3. What is a strain
You have to imagine the stump of a tree, its trunk and its branches, made up of ancestors, descendants, sisters, brothers, etc. Different methods exist depending on the type of genetic inheritance of the mutation or high combination to advance a strain.