Dark Factor Gouldians
1994, I bred a young Gouldian finch from a pair of normal green series Gouldian finches.
When this young bird moulted out it seemed different. It was a brighter bird; its deeper
cleaner colours set it apart. This bird looked different to other Gouldians that I had
bred in the past. The subsequent progeny proved it genetically different. This bird and
its progeny, I now know carry the "Dark Factor" gene. From the research I have
carried out, this colour phase in Gouldian finches is new and is not established in
aviculture anywhere else in the world. I think it is also the first time that a new
mutation in Gouldian finches has been discovered and established in the
built a family of birds around this bird over the last few years. This was difficult and
slow to start with, as my options, genetically, were limited. This was due, in the early
years, to the small numbers of birds that carried the necessary genetic information that I
had to work with. It was not always easy to decide which was the best way to proceed. I
needed to maximise the genetic material whilst not breeding too close too often.
Gouldian finches I breed are all parent reared and have been for a number of years. This
way of breeding Gouldians (in
of the new colour variants that I bred, the more I needed cage space to hold on to the
foundation birds that I had already bred. Cage and flight space always being at a premium,
especially as I breed with one pair per enclosure, typically 1.5m x 0.5m x 0.5m. I
therefore needed to make decisions about the other species that I kept and bred in order
that I could develop the breeding programme further. The many other species of seed eating
birds that I have been keeping and breeding have been disposed of, to make available the
extra accommodation needed. They included a small group Crimson Seedcrackers, pairs of Red
crested finches, Rhodospingus finches, Nonparial and Indigo buntings, Queen Whydahs. Along
with a breeding group of Red-hooded Siskins, which had produced over 80 birds in the last
seven years. I do still have my African Silverbills. At present I am reluctant to dispose
of them, although I have intentionally not bred many over the last couple of years.
bred sufficient Gouldians in this new colour break to be able to state that this new
colour phase is an "Incomplete Dominant" "Dark Factor". It appears in
both single dark factor (dark green/laurel) and double dark factor (olive) in the green
series. This is, in effect, a depth of colour gene known as the dark factor gene. This
gene is not responsible for the colour i.e. green or blue, only the depth of that colour
and works independently of other colour genes.
black-headed green series (normal) I have bred black-headed, dark green (single dark
factor) and olive (double dark factor) in purple breasted, lilac breasted and white
now extended the breeding program into the blue and yellow series and both red and
yellow-headed green series. The blue series should prove interesting as a single dark
factor blue, (dark blue or cobalt) and double dark factor blue (mauve) should be possible.
I do now have some single factor dark blues but they have yet to moult out. There are also
young dark greens coming through in red headed and yellow headed green series. The yellow
series is a bit more complex, I also have young bred from double factor yellows (no dark
factor) X olive, but more work is needed to evaluate all the possibilities.
factor colour phase could be applied to all existing colour variations that exist today
and in effect triple the number of colour variants available to Gouldian breeders. As this
is a dominant gene, it is only in a visual form, in single or double factor. Dominant
genes are visual and cannot be present in a hidden form on the chromosomes, as a recessive
gene can be, in the form known as a split.
included a table of matings and expectations and this table applies across the board
independent of colour.
realise that colour variants are not everyones cup of tea. My main interest in Gouldians
has been in trying to produce the very best black-headed normals for over 25 years. I go
back to 1958 with Gouldians so I really do appreciate the wild form of this outstanding
species. In saying that I have over the years kept and bred many of the colour variants,
as they have become available. This has enabled me to understand the genetics of the
modern day Gouldian and its development as a cage bird. Even so, I never expected that I
would breed a new mutation and have the pleasure of trying to establish it in all its
stated in the past that in my opinion the Gouldian is a bird that has genes that are prone
to mutate. It is found naturally in four established head colours. Red head is the
dominant red colour phase. Yellow head is the Recessive yellow colour phase and in my
opinion, it is incorrect to call it orange. Black head is the sex linked melanistic phase
this exists in both the red and yellow forms. Genetically the two Black headed forms are
recognised by the tip of the beak being red or yellow. These four head colours make it the
only multi-morph Estrildid. It is amongst the small number of bird species in which this
phenomenon exists. There are many examples of species that have established two colour
phases. Indeed a number occur within the species mandate of the Australian Finch Society.
The Crimson finch and the Pintailed Parrot-finch can be used as an example. Both species
have red and yellow colour forms or morphs established in the wild. These naturally
occurring colour variants show part of the continuing evolutionary process of these
variants are a naturally occurring phenomenon and can only exist in numbers if they are
well established. In the wild, this is difficult, as natural selection is far more random
than in a captive-breeding programme. Time is nature's tool and species are evolving and
developing to fill the niches open to them. How long the Gouldian has been evolving is
open to question. It could be many thousands of years, it may even be millions, who knows.
What we can be certain of is that it is an ongoing process in the wild. Mother Nature does
not stand still.
captivity the birds we keep, live and breed in far different circumstances to their wild
cousins. Captive breeding programs have established the various colour variations as they
have come along. By establishing these genes the breeders of Gouldians, or indeed any
species, where genetic change has been established, will be able to reproduce any of the
established colour variants in a controlled breeding programme. The downside is that
unwanted colour variants can be reproduced when a colour variation is well established
amongst captive stocks. For example white-breasted and blue variations occur from
time to time from hidden (recessive) genes. This can be a surprise when colour variants
are bred from apparently normal looking birds.
combinations are not a new problem for Gouldian breeder however, as the 54 different
matings from combining the four head colours has been with us from the beginning; these
additional genetic developments just make the Gouldian far more interesting.
been a slow job to get this far, but it is very exciting, as many of the young birds that
are now coming through will be new dark factor variations. I am also considering taking on
a few pairs of Bengalese, as some of the Gouldians that I really need youngsters off, are
not always satisfactory or reliable parents, but is that their fault or mine?
|Dominant Dark Factor Matings
Green (Single Dark Factor) x
50% Dark Green (SDF)
(Double Dark Factor) x
Dark Green (SDF)
|Dark Green (SDF) x Dark Green (SDF)
25% Olive (DDF)
50% Dark Green (SDF)
|Dark Green (SDF) x Olive (DDF)
50% Dark Green (SDF)
50% Olive (DDF)
(DDF) x Olive (DDF)