Guide To Gouldian Head Color Variants I

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default Guide To Gouldian Head Color Variants I

Post  FinchG on Sun Dec 11, 2011 3:56 pm

A Guide to Gouldian Colour Variants
By Graham Tulk

1. Where one head colour is genetically carrying another head colour in a hidden form, it is called a SPLIT. Say a Red headed cock is split for the Black headed gene, it will be visually Red split for Black, this is written down as, RED/BLACK. If it is split for Yellow head as well it will be written down as RED/BLACK & YELLOW.

2. The Black headed Gouldian has two colour phases, one has a RED tipped beak and the other a YELLOW tipped beak, the RED tip is usually known as the Black headed Gouldian whilst the YELLOW tip is usually written as Black Y.T.B. Genetically they are not the same, and as you will see from the mating tables, give a different set of results.

3. From the table you will see that the pairings 27, 31 and 52 are capable of producing youngsters in all the head colours in both cocks and hens, including the Y.T.B. Blackhead.

4. Yellow headed hens cannot be split for any other head colour and as such are always pure Yellow.

5. Black headed birds when paired together will only produce Black headed offspring, they will be either R.T.B. or Y.T.B. dependant upon the pairing.

6. The Gouldian finch is the only Estrildid to have three naturally occurring colour phases or morphs and this makes it a very interesting subject genetically, now add to these the colour variants that have been developed by bird breeders and you will agree that all the permutations and explanations could fill a book. Perhaps someone will work them all out one day or perhaps someone already has. Please send me a copy!

7. Here is just a basic guide to some of the other colour variants:
White breast - this is a recessive gene that acts independently of the head colours and other colour mutations.

Blue Variant - this is another recessive colour variant and acts independently of other colour mutations. The head colours in the Red and Yellow headed forms are modified to a salmon pink colour and it can be difficult to distinguish between these two head colours.

Lilac breast variant. Here we have a colour variant that modifies the breast, a Pastel effect.

Yellow variant - the gene that controls the yellow factor, I will not call it "Yellow backed" because this is misleading as this gene effects other parts of the plumage, including the throat and tail, is a dominant gene. This basically means that the yellow variant only exists in the visual form, no Gouldian, cocks or hens can split for the yellow variation. The cocks come in three forms:

Pastel, where the modified areas of plumage washed down to approximately half tone, but is very variable, the throat is charcoal grey and in the Black headed phase the head is modified to charcoal from black. I did recently see a very good example of a pastel Black headed cock were the back of the bird was a very even shade of delicate mustard yellow, the best I've seen.

Single factor cock. This is basically a pale yellow bird with normal looking breast and belly colour and head colour except in the Black head were the black head shows out as a silver-grey.

Double factor yellow. Here we have the full expression of this colour variation. The yellow is now a full blown bright primrose yellow in its best form with an almost white throat, though not as white as the white of the white breasted variant. The breast and belly are normal looking and so is the head colour of the Red and Yellow headed forms, but the head colour of the Black headed form is modified to silver. The hens, only come in one form, this is the equivalent to the single factor in the cock birds, and the yellow variant colours modified as in a normal hen apply.

8. Colour variant combinations. All the colour variants may be combined in one form or another as the breeder wishes, we at present do not have to take into account any lethal factors, the number of colour combinations seems endless but there are some very nice visual ones along the way. My preferences are the Double factor Yellow, Lilac breasted, Red head cock bird, the Black White breasted Blue variant and the Black headed Purple breasted Silver, but my real favourite is still the Black headed normal. The Silver form is a fine example of colour variant combinations, combining the factors of Blue and Yellow variants to come up with this very subtle variation. Then further along this road we come to the White bird, this then is the "ultimate expression" of the breeders art, the end of the road. To start with all that colour and end up with a blank.

Colour variants are an on-going situation, we have had glimpses into the future were some colour variations have surfaced and disappeared again without being established, did have a nest were one of the young had brownish feathers and red eyes, but did not survive, was it a cinnamon? I do have now a Black headed White breasted bird that is Grey instead of blue, but is very reluctant to lay eggs. So is this to be the end of a Grey series of birds before it gets going, I will let you know.

The words "colour variant" that I have used throughout this article are my preference to the word "mutation" which is in common usage where Australian Finches are mentioned. My reason for using the term colour variant is that it is a much softer word, it is already in common use in birdkeeping (re British bird fancy) and expresses what we mean in a more definitive way. Mutation to me seems to be much more physical, such as crests, frills, feather footed and other types of deformity, and should we as a society be going down that road? I for one would like to discourage the breeding of birds with any physical irregularity. We already have, so called, Crested Chestnut Breasted Mannikins which in my opinion are hybrids and as such should not be recognised. Can you imagine a "frilled scotch fancy type white Gouldian" or the "Gloster type, double factor, yellow with a red head and a silver crest, that covers its eyes", these may be far fetched but so were Blue and Yellow variants not so many years ago. All these mutations occur naturally and will pop up from time to time, how far should we go? For me colours are enough.


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