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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.