The orange breast mutation in classic colors

Male gris poitrine orange type 1

Since we are going to discuss the orange chest mutation in this article, it is certainly interesting to dwell first on the history of this mutation.

The orange breast mutation is supposed to have emerged in Belgium. I write consciously "supposed" because the first orange breast was actually found at a bird dealer. In Dutch literature in particular, long before the discovery of the first orange breast in Belgium, zebrafinch were described with features that we can now attribute to orange breast carriers.
What we are certain in any case is that the honor of the discovery of the orange chest comes to a certain Mr. De Coster who in 1978 noticed a gray male quite special in a trade. This male had an orange breast bar, whereas normally it should have been black. This gentleman bought this copy, but at the farm nothing came out of what he had hoped for. At the end of 1978, Paul Chabot, president of the BZC at that time, will acquire this male. There were good and bad surprises with this subject, because this male unfortunately did not live very long. Fortunately Paul Chabot had been able to get some young people before.
The orange breast is autosomal recessive inheritance compared to the wild form. The orange factor must therefore be doubly present to become visible. He crossed young people with each other and quickly pulled out the first orange breast.

Already the first orange chestnut farmer made the mistake of not combining and developing the orange breast with classic colors, but he rushed directly on the combination of the orange breast with the black breast and other mutations.
From this moment already, the dream of any orange breast breeder was born to know to lead to a zebrafinch entirely orange. By burning the breeding stage in the classic colors, the following question remained : Are some of the specific features we observe in our classic orange breasts, only uncomfortable derivatives of the presence of the mutation ? black breast or is it specific effects of the orange breast mutation ? What do I hear about that ?

Well, often the orange gray chest or brown chest brownish cheeks reveal not well defined. Similarly, we often see an orange hem on the wings. Also, the chest frequently flows upwards and the belly presents drawings. All these characteristics are quite disturbing.

Before discussing these different points, it would be nice to ask the following question : What exactly does the orange breast mutation do ?

The orange breast mutation converts eumelanin to orange-brown phaeomelanin patterns. In the current standard, this gives us the image of a male with orange beaks and tears, a zebra pattern and an equally orange breast bar and an orange-white checkered tail pattern. Females are also easily recognizable by the presence of a slight orange reflection in the cheeks and flanks on which one can even find traces of flanks. The line of tear disappears in females.

Femelle grise poitrine orange

In the first years of the mutation, all the orange breasts had a small head, but nevertheless round. Since a crossing-over must have played because these 2 factors (orange breast and small round head) have separated. In recent years there are also po with other forms of heads.

The orange-breasted males can be recognized by the fact that they have orange feathers below the wings. In females carrying orange breast, it is seen that very little, but the weak line of tear suggests its genotype.

Now back to our original question : Do these rather annoying features have their origins in the massive introduction in orange breast cultures of the black breast mutation or are they simply a result of the work of the orange breast mutation itself ?

Until recently, I was personally convinced that the black chest was the culprit.
But a few years of breeding with brown orange breast, have taught me, that despite all my repeated attempts to eliminate from my breeding orange chest black breast carriers, including repeatedly introducing pure brown, these annoying features remained. According to the laws of heredity, these symptoms should have been reduced considerably by the mating black chest x pure brown which theoretically give us 50% of brown bearers black breasts and 50% of pure browns. This method should allow to obtain a higher and higher percentage of pure orange breasts.
I could therefore conclude that the orange breast mutation not only transforms eumelanin into pheomelanin, but also interferes with the boundaries of the drawings. These annoying traces would have their origins in the orange breast mutation itself.
Besides, in breeding combinations we do not notice that the introduction of the orange breast strengthens black breast and blackface mutations.

Let's look at a quick example here: A black breast with an all-black chest is virtually untenable. Combine these with orange breast and the color of the chest will flow higher. Have you noticed, I just wrote "I could conclude," because as a breeder I have yet made other findings that suggest that the orange breast mutation has not yet been fully surveyed.
These findings are, that is, that there are gray-brown or brown chest males whose drawings are well-defined. On the other hand, these specimens do not have orange zebra, but gray or brown streaks. They show a tricolor tail design namely white checkers and checkers partially orange and dark brown or gray.
On the other hand, males with no clearly defined drawings have more or less pronounced orange in the zebra pattern. Males showing a drawing on the belly, which is a fault in classic orange breasts, have a white and orange zebra pattern. All these males with undefined drawings have orange-white tail blocks, however not well defined; the orange flows.

Male gris poitrine orange type 2

By deduction, the subjects with the well-defined drawing would they be the pure orange chest specimens, while the others would be more or less carriers ?

When we analyze all these data, then it is possible that a false standard has been determined and that the brown or gray chestnut pure orange (non-carriers) is a bird different from the one described in the standard. We should then accept that an orange zebra pattern and orange-white tail blocks are not tenable.
As an additional argument I will add that this first subject of 1978, which I saw flying with my own eyes, did not show orange but light gray zebra, and showed tricolor blocks.

Did the authors of the first breeding directives and the future standard have a vision in mind that 20 years later still does not seem tenable ?

There have already been precedents of this kind, and especially in the orange breast. The orange breasted females had and still do not have a tear line. However in the first version of the standard a teardrop was written there. Simply because the males have one that flows into the cheek, it was thought that by selection we would get subjects with a dash of orange tear, which however was not the case thereafter. Also in the current version of the standard the orange breast female must not show tear line.

To the question : "Does the orange breast type with an orange breast bar and gray or black-brown streaks still exist ?" I answer : Yes !

There are still gray or brown orange breast males with a clean and aligned design. But do not have orange stripes in the zebra pattern, but gray or brown. These examples also show tri-colored tail blocks, namely white blocks and partly orange and partly dark brown or gray blocks. Males, with overflowing parts, who have orange in a proportion more or less in zebra. Orange breasted males in classic colors, with an unwanted abdominal pattern, have orange-white streaks. All these badly drawn males also have orange-white blocks but not very clear, the orange overflows.

I found in previous articles that it was said that there may have been a fault in the standard and that the pure orange breast in gray or brown, is a bird other than described in this standard. We should have accepted that an orange zebra pattern associated with orange-white blocks was not possible.

Most of the orange breasts seen in our exhibits have such flaws as : Flows of dashes in the abdomen from the chest bar, a cheek that is not properly drawn (flow upwards), flank points who are no longer round. These are usually features of the black breast factor. We can conclude that most of the orange breasts (in the classic colors) encountered in shows, have a combination color of mutations coming from the orange breast and a drawing from the black breast. Orange breasts of the non-standard type do not exhibit these characteristics of the black breast mutation.
Jan Van Looy's 1st picture shows the orange chest of the guy with gray stripes, bicolor blocks and a carefully defined chest and cheek. The second photo of the article presents the type described in the standard with orange-white blocks and orange stripes. This bird presents faults such as the features on the abdomen, the flow of the cheeks and the non-round points. This is the problem raised in ancient articles including: Orange blocks and orange stripes are almost always associated with the characteristics "carrier" for black breast.

Another question that can be asked is : Are these characteristics black chest are true carrier characteristics for pn or is it a second type chest orange that intervenes in this case ?

In birds with two-color blocks and gray streaks, the above-mentioned faults may be eliminated. I mean by breeding. In the early years, this guy was the enemy. It is a fact that in the meantime everything has mixed and there are not many pure copies.
The authors of the first breeding lines and later of the standard requirements had an ideal image, image that currently, many years later, no longer seems feasible.


Jan Van Looy
Artcile written in 2000.

Belgische Zebravinken Club

Drawing Standard Orange chest pheomelanin recessive mutation