I chose to describe this day of October 15, 2020 because it is not like the others.
Indeed it marks the beginning of breeding with the first births of gray zebrafinch in the 2020-2021 breeding season !
Eight pairs of grays mating since September 26 of this year.
Today, 3 couples have had births, 2 couples convent their fertilized eggs and 3 others have to re-lay after a "white" laying. The majority of this year’s breeders are primiparous, I do not hold them against this false start which can turn into an excellent season. As long as I observe well the behaviour of these young future parents (the younger ones are about 11 months old).
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 colour 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 coloured 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 colour 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-coloured 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 colours, 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.
During our visit to the firm Versele-Laga, Dr. P. Ghysels gave us a presentation on bird food and the requirements of this food. This presentation, based on scientific research and experiments, was clear and easy to follow, and provided with many examples.
The result is that we are smarter about food, but we are not yet specialists in bird food.
This article is based on Dr. Ghysels' presentation and presents some points that need attention.
For our zebrafinch, this balanced food consists of the following ingredients:
1. Protein, fat and carbohydrates.
2. Minerals and trace elements such as zinc, iron, etc.
The amount of protein needed depends on the situation. During rearing and moulting, this amount is significantly higher than during the resting season. Seed mixtures can never be adequate enough to provide for the normal situation.
Carbohydrates are found as starch in plants and seeds. Fats are concentrated sources of energy. Too much fat in food causes a poor function of other materials in the digestion of food. The history of omega-3 is a good illustration of this case. Fats are found in oil-rich seeds. These seeds may constitute a maximum of 1/5 th of the mixture.
Minerals and trace elements must be presented daily. These elements constitute the "fitness" of the bird.
For the female, limestone is a primary necessity. At each egg laid, the amount of limestone of the female decreases by 20%. During the breeding period, the female must be able to keep her limestone stock to a maximum. During this period, it is therefore necessary to provide additional limestone in the food.
Vitamins are not found in sufficient quantities in seed mixtures designed for our zebrafinch. Therefore, they must be added. it is especially important to pay attention to vitamins that can be dissolved in fat such as vitamins A, D, E and K. A excess of these vitamins is stored in the fat of the bird and causes a poor function of several organs.
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 grey is from the wild type.
It corresponds to the original type of Mandarin diamond. It is therefore strictly speaking not a mutation.
However, the grey 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 grey is the basis of the mutations existing in the gray series (black breast grey, white breast grey, pale back grey, etc.), the rearing of this one is essential for the perenniality of all these mutations.
The grey zebrafinch will thus "regenerate" all these mutations.
3. Who is gray breeding for ?
The breeding of the grey 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 of 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.
To take beautiful photos of your zebrafinch, here is a photo box model to make yourself.
1. Materials needed
- White PVC panel, 5 mm thick.
- PVC U-shaped slides.
- PVC angles in L.
- 1 ultra-flat neon with switch.
- Trunnion Ø 10 or 12 grooved.
- Silicone glue.
2. Cutting the PVC panel
- The PVC panel is cut to form a cube with the following dimensions: Length 38 cm, depth 32 cm, height 32 cm.
- On a wall, a hole 6 cm in diameter (to be adjusted according to the lens of your camera) is made at the height of the future perch.
- On another wall, an opening 10 cm wide by 12 high is made for the sliding door which will allow the bird to be introduced into the box.
- Cut 1 door to close the hole which will be used to photograph the bird (example of dimensions for a 6 cm hole: 10 cm x 10 cm).
- Cut 1 door of 12 cm x 14 cm for the opening that will allow the bird to be introduced into the box.
- Cut a 10 cm x 10 cm square that will serve as a base for the perch.
3. Gluing the slides
- Cut and glue 2 guides (U-shaped angles) which allow the door to slide, which can block the Ø 6 cm opening.
- Cut and glue 2 slides (U-shaped angles) which allow the door to slide, which will be able to obstruct the opening 10 cm wide by 12 cm high.
If you use this type of nest this trick can be useful.
Last year, a male regularly messed up or removed nest materials. Certainly with the aim of starting another brood.
The bottom of these nests being flat, the eggs were found scattered and therefore a risk of not being incubated was very possible.
So I looked for a solution to avoid this inconvenience. By trying out several types of concave shaped nest bottom, among others those in rope and coconut fiber, by incorporating them into the plastic nest. This male continued despite everything to want to remove these funds !
Then, I tried a white felt concave background that I taped to the nest.
Through several media, we sometimes read statements or the establishment of what one might call "cooking recipes" concerning the breeding of our zebrafinches.
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.
In countries with mild climatic conditions and ideal for our birds, this allows them to be reared outdoors or with sufficient light in a room thanks to the sun.
It is different in other countries and depending on the period or the breeder decides to mate his birds. Sometimes to make this period coincide with the holidays or others.
In this article, I describe solutions that I know to overcome the lack of light and give the right conditions to our birds according to the different periods of their life in our breeding rooms.
1. What lighting brings
Suitable artificial lighting can ensure the activation of vitamin D3 essential for the growth of young zebrafinch.
Vitamin D3 deficiency can result in a misshapen or limp beak or paw. Conversely, do not overdo the administration of vitamin supplements which will produce even more harmful effects.
2. What we are looking for when managing the light
This makes it possible to be able to breed in the unfavorable seasons to recreate the ideal conditions. Simulate in some ways at best which will stimulate the birds to reproduction or to rest.
In winter, prolonging the light can also give birds more time to feed in order to withstand low temperatures (I am thinking of the case of outdoor breeding).
Conversely, reducing the length of the day can help calm a bird. For example, an overly excited male who destroys the nest to start a new lay. Giving it a break in a dark place can temper it before another attempt.
The changes in brightness duration between 2 periods must be gradual. Too abrupt a change can cause false moult or unusual behavior. A change of 5 minutes per day is suitable. You will notice as changes in behavior, excitations during the increase of this duration.
3. Solutions to manage light
a) Cycle with 2 programmers and 1 night light
The most economical will be to use 2 programmers (mechanical or electronic) and a night light.
I made this glossary to illustrate in photos the existing mutations in the zebrafinch.
He can help you identify the mutation (s) of your zebra finches.
Important precision :To identify the genotype of your zebrafinch, it will be necessary to take into account that a zebra finch can carry a mutation without being mutant.
Being a carrier (/ , split) of a mutation means that it is partially present (genetically speaking). from the visual point of view the partially carried mutation will not be seen or only by some clues present in the appearance of the bird.
In this case, it will be necessary to have a trained eye to determine the genotype. Sometimes check couplings will be necessary.
Your zebra finch can also have several mutations, the possible combinations are numerous.
This glossary is based solely on the phenotype (visual characteristics) and single mutations (not combined).
The gray zebrafinch is not a mutation, it is the original (wild) type.
1. Gender-related mutations
The female can never be a split, so she is either mutant or non-mutant.
The male can be a split of the mutation.
1. Benefits of ringing your zebrafinch
This will allow you to know their year of birth and to identify them, which will be essential for establishing a genealogy and monitoring your breeding. Each ring will be the identity card of each of your zebrafinch.
In addition, if you wish to have one of your zebra finches compete, only those who are ringed can participate. The ringed zebra finches of the current and previous year are eligible to participate in a gathering.
Then, a breeder will always prefer to buy a ringed zebrafinch on which he can be sure of the year of birth of this one and be informed of its origin.
2. How and when to ring the chicks
Video that illustrates how to handle the baby bird to ring it :