About finchesó

Gouldian finch head colors

by Fenton Mereness
E & F Birds

The head color can be dominant or recessive, sex linked or not. The bird can be homozygous (no hidden color traits) or heterozygous (carrying a hidden color trait). We will call the heterozygous bird a split.

There are 54 possible head color pairings, and the expected results can be found in several books. The book Gouldian Finches by Matthew M. Vriends includes a chart.

The red-headed is sex-linked dominant and will have a red-tipped beak. The black is sex-linked recessive and can have either a red- or a yellow-tipped beak. The yellow is autosomal (on a chromosome other than a sex chromosome) and has a yellow-tipped beak.

The red-headed male can be split to black, split to yellow, and because of the yellow being on a different chromosome, split to black and yellow. The red-headed hen can be split to yellow but not black. If she inherits the black gene she will have a black head.

The black-headed male and hen can be split to yellow. If carrying two yellow genes he will have a yellow-tipped beak.

The yellow-headed Gould is not split. Any red or black gene will cause the bird to be red or black. (According to a reader, the yellow-headed male, like the red head, can be split to black. Ed.)

Head colors will follow these rules in any back or breast color combination. However, an interesting phenomenon occurs with the blue-backed Gould. The blue-backed bird has no ability to produce lipochrome. (Ed: A class of pigments generally containing carotenes.) Hence, the red and yellow colors do not develop. The red- or yellow-tipped beak is not observed, and the red and yellow head can best be described as lightly muddy. The black head is the only head color truly observed.

Suggested Reading:

The NFSS Bulletin, Sept-Oct 1994.
Vriends, M.M., Gouldian Finches.
Evans & Fidler, The Gouldian Finch.

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