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Zebra Finch Terms


Fledge A chick first leaving the nest.  A fledgeling is a chick newly out of the nest.

Flight A very large cage where the birds can fly freely.  Usually many feet long and high.

Split Having the genes of more than one color mutation

Mutation A trait that is not on the normal wild bird. This is a random occurring event.  In captive breeding we can continue this rare event with selective breeding. The different colors on Zebra finches are mutations.

Selective Breeding Manually picking the specific birds to pair up for mating.  Usually done to continue a color mutation or to combine two color mutations.

Inbreeding Mating family members.  Mating brother and sister is generally not a good thing.  Weak and/or deformed young may be produced.  Prolonged inbreeding will eventually return very poor results in the offspring.  Examples: Father x Daughter, Son x Mother, Brother x Sister.  From Webster's Dictionary: to breed (individuals of a closely related group) repeatedly

Line Breeding Mating family members in a controlled manner where parents have one or more common ancestors.  Controlled line breeding can strengthen the desirable traits while eliminating the negative traits.  Line breeding is basically the only way to strengthen some traits.  With line breeding, new breeds of animals are produced to make them better for their intended purpose.  This has been done extensively with animals for food.  From Webster's Dictionary: a form of inbreeding directed toward keeping the offspring closely related to a superior ancestor.

Back Crossing
To cross (a hybrid of the first generation) with either of its parents.  Best Male  X  His Best Daughter

Out Crossing 
To cross by breeding individuals of different strains but, of the same breed.

The increase in growth, size, yield, or other characters in hybrids over those of the parents.

Dominant gene 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.

Recessive gene 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.

Sex-linked gene The gene that is only on the sex chromosomes.  Females carry the sex gene. 

Heterozygous  Having dissimilar pairs of genes for any hereditary characteristic (i.e. split birds)

Homozygous   Having a pair of identical alleles at corresponding chromosomal loci (i.e. full/pure birds)

Genotype  The genetic makeup of an organism or group of organisms with reference to a single trait, set of traits, or an entire complex of traits.

Phenotype  The appearance of an organism resulting from the interaction of the genotype and the environment.

Autosomal Any chromosome other than a sex chromosome

Sex Chromosome A chromosome, differing in shape or function from other chromosomes, that determines the sex of an individual (See Autosomal)

Dimorphic Sexually The Sexes can be distinguished visually

Eumelanin gray/black pigments
Phaeomelanin brown pigments
Erythromelanin red brown pigments.


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