Mr Michel LANDRY, éleveur amateur de sélection
Member's latest blog posts
The young zebrafinch are now about three weeks old; seeking to escape the lack of space, the oppressive heat of the brood or simply wanting to discover the world, they will begin to emerge from the nest.
This outing is not definitive, as they still return for 2 to 3 days, but less and less often. Sometimes, when the young begin to grow up, one of them starts to fly out of the nest a few days before the expected release date, you can leave it out of the nest if conditions allow, the parents will continue to take care of it. If you need to put it back in the nest, place it gently preferably in the evening and keep your hand in front of the fly-off hole, until all the young have regained their calm.
One morning when all the young are out, the nest will be removed and cleaned before a new laying or in preparation for the next breeding season. The nest will be restored when the young are weaned and thus separated from their parents.
It is common for parents to start a new laying before the end of weaning the young. There are no rules on the matter: Sometimes the parents start hatching while taking care of the young that come out of the nest, sometimes they will pluck the young and stop taking care of them. It is up to the breeder to be attentive in his observations. At home, I prefer to remove the eggs laid on the ground to give them to another couple or to give them back to the couple after weaning when the timing allows.
The weaning period corresponds to the period when the young bird will learn to feed itself and thus acquire its autonomy. It is therefore a delicate period when it will be important to observe the birds so as not to make the mistake of separating a young person from his parents too early. Usually a young zebrafinch will be weaned around 35 days of life. Again, the observation is strict; and no need to take risks, it is a matter of a few days.
The young chicks were fed by their parents who regurgitated the seeds and/or mash that is distributed daily at this time. Now they must learn to peel the seeds and eat them alone. The sooner the chicks are self-sufficient, the sooner they will be weaned.
The parents themselves reduce the regurgitation of the pate.
But if young people feel the need they will go looking for it alone, it is easy to access food that will serve as a transition. In addition, some breeders provide young birds with sprouted seeds: These «soft» seeds are easy to peel and ingest. For my part, as soon as I leave the nest, the birds have at their disposal some millet in clusters (red and yellow that I alternate every day).
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.
As you embark on a breeding season, here I give you some tips for preparing your zebra finches for the next few months.
Our birds are certainly easy to breed, but perhaps these are details that will encourage reluctant couples to breed or produce more fertilized eggs. This article does not pretend to give the method to prepare your zebra finches for a breeding season but simply to inform about a possible organization for an optimal breeding season. This is the one I put in place.
The selection of breeders was made at the end of the summer. The choice of couplings is of course essential, and always chosen according to the qualities to be improved and defects to be corrected in relation to the zebra finch sought, while trying to respect as much as possible the "rule" of chimmel couplings on intensive and vice versa. It will take the necessary time to form breeding pairs; many criteria must be taken into account depending on its objectives (show birds, working birds, carrier birds, etc.). It has happened that very good animals have not been mated because they have not found the perfect match. Better to be patient than to mate to “number”. Quality will always take precedence over quantity.
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.