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 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.