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Zebra Finch Colors

Basic Colors

The normal male bird has a gray upper body and wings.  The belly is white.  The beak and legs are a red-orange color.  On each side of the head is a cheek patch.  There is a 'tear drop' mark under the eye.  This is a brown/tan/fawn color commonly called orange.  The flanks/sides of the bird just below the wings, is a chestnut (orange) colored area with white dots.  The chest is black and white stripped like a zebra, hence the name zebra finch.  A truly beautiful bird!

The female also has a gray upper body and wings with a white belly.  The beak and legs are the same red-orange color but not as deep color, lighter.  She has a black 'tear drop' mark under the eye.  The most noticable differences between males and females are the cheek patches and the chest striping.

There are many color variations.  Most of the color variations are simply a change in color of one or more of the parts of the bird, i.e. the body, belly, chest strips, beak, cheeks, etc.  On some of the variations the color part seems to be missing.  On the ‘Black Breast’ the cheek patches are enlarged.

These individual differences in color can appear singly or combined.  For example, Black Cheeked + Light Back or Black Breasted + Fawn or Black Face + Orange Breast.

Dominant: The dominant gene is one that is visible even when on only one of the chromosomes.  It is visible in both the split (heterozygous) birds and a full/pure (homozygous) birds.  If a bird has a specific dominant gene, it will show that color.  If a bird does not show a specific color, it does NOT have that gene.

Recessive: The gene must be present on both of the chromosomes to be visible.  If it is on only one chromosome, the color mutation will not be visible.  The recessive gene is carried on a non-sex chromosome.  For a child to have a recessive color visible, both parents must have the gene.  Both parents could be split (not visibly showing the color) and produce a child showing that color.

Sex-linked gene: The gene that is only on the sex chromosomes.  Females carry the sex gene.  In females, if they have the sex-linked color gene, it will be visible, as they have only one sex chromosome to which the sex-linked gene is on.  In males, the sex-linked gene must be on both sex chromosomes.  Sex-linked traits are not visible in males if only one sex chromosome carries the gene.  Males can be split for sex-linked genes, females cannot.  The sex chromosomes in birds are the opposite of that in humans.

Dominant
  G   - Gray Normal
  BF - Black Face
  DS - Dominant Silver
  CR - Crested
  GC - Gray Check
  FC - Fawn Cheek
Recessive
 FF      - Florida Fancy/Isabel (an incomplete dominant)
 YB     - Yellow Beak
  PNG - Penguin
  P       - Pied
  OB   - Orange Breast
  BB    - Black Breast
  BC    - Black Cheek
  RS    - Recessive Silver
  W     - White
Sex Linked
  F       - Fawn
  CFW - Chestnut Flanked White 
  LB     - Light Backed
 

-------- COLOR NOTES --------

Notes on Sex-linked:
If Father=CFW and Mother=Gray then possible ratios for the chicks will be:
  (The hens will be CFW.  The males will be Gray/split CFW.)
  50%      CFW females
  50%      Gray/split CFW males

If Father=Gray and Mother=CFW then possible ratios for the chicks will be:
  (ALL of the chicks will be Gray.  Males will be slpit for CFW.)
  50%      Gray females
  50%      Gray/split CFW males

If Father=Gray/split CFW and Mother=Gray then possible ratios for the chicks will be:
  25%      Gray females
  25%      Gray males
  25%      CFW females
  25%      Gray/split CFW males

If Father=Gray/split CFW and Mother=CFW then possible ratios for the chicks will be:
  25%      Gray females
  25%      Gray/split CFW  males
  25%      CFW females
  25%      CFW males

Notes on Orange Breast
OB hens often have some orange on the tail covers, even splits have a faint glow of orange around the white dots they also lack all traces of a tear drop mark  OB hens have no tear drop mark and most have bright orange markings around the white dots on
the tail coverts.  Some have more than others but a full OB hen will have some orange on the tail.  Males split for OB show traces of orange in their breast.  OB split hens can and show some traces of orange in the tail coverts, some do, many don't.  ?Sometimes this orange is just appears as slight color around the white dots but even a faint visibility of orange is enough to classify a hen split for OB.

Also split hens show a poorly defined tear drop mark, full OB hens have no tear drop mark.  However, black breasted hens also show a similar  poorly defined tear drop mark,  that’s when you check the tail coverts, BB/split hens show regular markings, OB split hens would have typical tail covert markings.

Notes on Black Breast
Male black breasts have a breast bar that is more solid black than normal.  The cheek patches are much larger than the normal size, sometimes going over the top and back of the head and even touching each other. The side flanks have elongated white dots.  The tear drop does not appear.  The rump and tail coverts are buff/cream in color and the white stripes on top of the tail are gone.  Females are much like normal hens but they lack the tear drop.  The tail markings are the same as on the male.

Split for black breast birds can be visibly identified.  The cheek patch is slightly larger with ragged edges.  The white stripes on top of the tail are in more of an hourglass shape than the normal straight stripe.

Notes on Black Faced
Black Faced birds are beautiful.  The white area between the tear drop and beak is black, making it look like a black face.  The breast is mostly all black continuing down the under body of the bird.  Ideally, the black extends completely down to the vent, but this is unusual.  The flanks often have fewer white dots.  The hens look very much like normal hens but the white area between the tear drop and beak is gray.  Black Faced birds do not resemble Black Breasted birds.  They do not have any of the same markings.

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