Gray black chest orange chest


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.

Female zebra finch gray orange breast black breast

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.

Zebra finch male gray black breast orange breast


I don’t know if this color extension is responsible for the orange back in some males, but while for three years I have been paying attention to the head-back demarcation in my breeding selection, I have noticed that I have not come out of «orange backs» when it happened 7-8 times before.

Another peculiarity of the mutation combination, the belly design. This pattern is characterized by orange flames from the chest, which sometimes descend to the cloaca. I remember participating in the discussion of the French standard when it was reviewed a few years ago. Those who wrote it did not want to make it mandatory (because difficult to obtain?...). However, this must be taken into account because it can influence the selection of breeders in the wrong direction.

Here is a non-exhaustive list of the difficulties encountered in breeding the breast gray orange black breast :

- The combination is “fashionable”. Many beginning breeders choose this color because it is sought after and it «sells» better than a classic gray. This causes a multitude of birds of very poor quality because little worked. People looking for popn birds want birds completed and do not often have a strain of classic useful in the work of mutation combination. By making only orange breast black breast X orange breast black breast couplings (with or without the black face mutation), the quality of birds tends to decrease as generations go by.

- Another concern is the difficulty of recognizing birds mutated for an uninformed eye. Many intermediate birds come out and can put the breeder, sometimes the judge, in doubt. A good black split breast orange breast for example and vice versa may appear as an orange breast black. In females, it is worse; It is sometimes difficult to recognize a good black breast carrying orange breast bad orange breast black breast.

- The orange breast gray black breast is much different from the orange breast brown black breast and is more difficult to do, which is understandable with regard to gray eumelanin in the greys. In the selection of the color intensity, a lot of birds come out with black rejects in the chest. They are often subjects whose rust color is very good and whose back color is quite grey. Careful, these are very good working birds which, if they are well mated, will give very good competition birds.
Many breeders use brown orange breast black breast to make these rejects disappear. I agree with that when it is done sparingly. Browns in each generation give, in my opinion, greys with a creamy belly, with a back too veiled with brown. In my breeding, I use brown females with orange breast black sometimes but I try never to put back gray split brown on brown females. That’s why I hardly come out with brown males with orange breast and black breast. Likewise, the returns on classic, I use only gray. I read on a site that it is not necessary to mate gray on brown because the gray would be too veiled of brown, and the brown would be too dull. This is true only in the long term. One can get beautiful gray with a mating with a brown female, and beautiful very hot females with a brown or brown X gray mating.

- Many of the black orange breast breasts encountered are small. I don’t know if it’s due to poor selection or successive mating of mutant X mutant. Without going back to the classics, I don’t think it’s possible to improve the size of these birds.

Female zebra finch gray orange breast black breast

Photo: Grey female split orange breast carrying black breast

- The head of many birds tends to be flat. Likewise, I have no explanation other than a non selection of this criterion in the couplings. Here again, a return to classic grey or black breast seems to me opportune.

- The drawings of the flans become very blurry. Often we see this defect on zebrafinch too schimel (long rolls). The length of the feather is very important in its choice of breeders. It is a flaw that is difficult to correct.

- Back designs are missing or only orange. This is often the case on zebrafinch with a very grey color. This kind of bird usually does not have a good extension of cheeks. The same problem is encountered on black grey breast males of the «very» black color. Again, breeding selection will make a difference. The birth of this drawing is seen on split birds, male as well as female, it is easy to select in orange breast black.

In the selection of breeders, many criteria are taken into account and obviously depend on the objectives of the breeder, the need to erase such or such defects. In my farming, these criteria have changed a lot over the past 15 years. What I noticed is that the size is much more difficult to obtain than the color and it is a permanent work because one should not be trapped by the length of the feathers: a zebrafinch schimel appears larger because of its voluminous plumage and it is the skeleton that will give a large bird. The best way to pay attention to it is to take the birds in hand and thus really realize the size of the bird.
Do not also have preconceived ideas: we read on the Internet that in mating we must prefer the size to the females because it would be it that brings the size to the progeny. No. A small male with a large female will not give young of the size of the female. The young obtained will be intermediate. And vice versa. A large male with a smaller female gives the same result. The selection of the format must concern both sexes.

Here are some points that are privileged in my selection of breeders, in this order :

- the type
- format
- The color and the drawings

I think it is much more difficult to improve the size of the birds too, I pay special attention to conserve the largest birds in my breeding, certainly sometimes to the detriment of the color or the drawings (black rejects in the chest for example).
I pay attention to some details too, in the choice of classics to make porters for example. Grey males will be preferred, if possible “bad” in belly color.
In the choice of the split zebrafinch my gaze lingers on: the bluish color of the eyelid, the color of the caudal, the presence of the belly design in the females, the base color of the back (as gray as possible). I also exclude all birds with long brittle feathers as well as those whose head-back demarcation is not clear.

Michel Landry, amateur breeder.
Article published in 2020.

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orange chest breed mutant Mutation Black breast combination Color split Selection standard