If I was really pushed to say which was my favourite mutation of Zebra Finch, in all honesty I would have to say it was Creams, but I might add some pairs are technically creams, but visually are not. There is a vast range of colours from almost fawn to the other end of the range, of almost Whites. The ZFS standard accepts them all for exhibition, but I feel those which are in the middle range are the most attractive. There are two distinct mutations of Cream Dilutes.
Firstly there are dominant dilutes. These are the mutation most frequently seen and kept by breeders. Secondly the recessive dilutes which appear infrequently on the show bench. The difference between the two cream mutations is in their gene inheritance when breeding. The dominants will pass on their genes for colour in a first generation, while in recessives the genes will be masked in a carrier and the colour won’t be seen. Further on I will describe what I mean. To breed dominant creams is very easy and only a single bird is required. I will give examples later in this article. The Zebra Finch Society Colour Standard for Dominant Creams: Cock: Eyes Dark; Beak Red; Feet and Legs Pink. There are various shades of dilute fawn, from deep to pale cream. Breast bars vary from dark to pale fawn, throat and upper breast matching body colour with diluted zebra lines to match breast bar. Underparts white which may have cream shading near the vent and thighs, cheek patches vary from pale orange to cream. All other markings diluted to the same degree as the body colour, the lighter the body colour the paler the markings. Hens; Same as other hens but of the same shade to match the cocks.
As you will see from the standard, all shades of cream are acceptable. I have however noticed that the viewing conditions are very important. Under natural lighting the paler birds look best viewed under artificial lighting as the darker shades stand out better.
It is important that exhibition pairs are of the same colour. It is also important that the markings are diluted to match the body colour. The darker the birds, the darker the markings. The lighter the cream, the lighter the markings. It is also important that the birds should be evenly coloured. Patchy coloured creams just don’t win any awards, nor should they!! When arguments used to rage fiercely about which were the best coloured creams, my old friend the late Ted Stathers used to say. ” Its easy, open a bottle of milk, the creams on the top”.
Dominant creams can be breed from a single Cock or Hen bird which should be paired to a fawn partner. From this pairing you will breed 50% cream youngsters. It is then very easy to build up a strain. One bad point though. I have always experianced more difficulty in getting adults to rear cream chicks than any other mutation. I have therefore concluded that this is down to the gape pattern in the chicks mouth pattern being diluted. This being the case, it then dosn’t trigger off the adults to regurgitate to the chicks beak.
Recessive creams. Cock: Eyes Dark; Beak Red;Feet and Legs Pink;Head, neck and mantle medium cream; Wings cream;Throat and upper breast bar zebra striped cream with darker lines continuing down to the breast bar.Cheek loabs medium orange; Underparts White, sometimes slightly shaded near the the thighs and vent; Flankings light reddish brown with clear white spots. Tail dark cream with white bars; Cock markings should be clear and distinct with only slight dilutution. Hen. As other hens but of the same shade to match the cock.
The main feature of the recessive mutation is that they are a darker variety than the dominants. In fact some at a glance can initially be mistaken for fawns. The give away is usually in the tail markings which are noticeably more diluted than fawns. It is also true to say there is a light difference in the colour of the cheek lobes, and flank markings as well.
An inexperienced eye may not at first notice the difference. They do have a more orangey appearance. Because the differences are small, I suspect a few which are bred oftern go unnoticed and disappear in breeding fawns. Incidentally, fawns which are breed from a recessive cream usually do have excellent feather texture and colour.
When a recessive cream is paired to a fawn, the resultant youngsters are fawns, split for recessive cream. If one of the youngsters is paired back to its recessive cream parent, half the youngsters will be recessive creams. The remainder will be fawns. To buld up a strain of recessive creams does test ones patience, but they are worth the effort. Several past fanciers had small studs of creams in recessive form. The late Ted Stathers from Hull and the late Jack Crozier, with his ”Cock of the North Stud”. All creams are beautiful and worth a place in any birroom. Like the cream on the milk they will rise to the top.
This article was reproduced with the kind permissin of Jim Addison, Who first published the the above piece in the S&NCZFS Year book in 1988.