Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Euro Red/Brown

I have never been particularly attracted to the Fawn or Ginger Pied Bengalese, mainly because the Fawn in Australia generally is a mild tan coloured Finch and does not have the same colouring and marking definition of the darker Bengos. This being said, I have not really personally seen many Ginger Selfs and I am looking forward to that.

On that note I have come across a few photos recently of the Euro Ginger or Red/Brown that I think are very impressive. The Euro Red/Brown  has very well presented and defined underbelly markings that have been established overseas through hybridizing and careful selective breeding over many years.

Also the degree of RED in this Bengo I just love and it is my opinion that the Red/Brown is the most "bright" or "colourful" of all the Bengalese mutations, where by nature the humble Bengo is a brown Finch.

Monday, November 21, 2011

3 Young Chestnuts

So, I am happy to say that I have three healthy Chestnut young. Two are dark Chestnut and the youngest one shown on the right is a few shades lighter.

This photo was taken a week ago and I think that they will venture out of the nest in another week.
I bought some egg and biscuit and still the adult Bengos are not very interested in it. They readily eat and feed with the sprouted seed that I give them and since it is spring I have been feeding them green seeding grasses that I collect from around the local area.

The pair of light/dilute chestnuts in the other cabinet still do not show much sign of settling down to nest but for the time being I will continue to also feed the sprouted seed and seeding grasses to encourage the spring breeding instinct. I am still reserving the opinion that the finch that I think is the Hen is too old for breeding or is in fact a Cockbird.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A Misguided Belief to Dispel.2

Genetic Principals of Domestication
By Mark Shipway

The idea that domesticated breeds such as the Bengalese have hybrid histories was shared by domestic animal breeders before Charles Darwin's time. The view probably started with Linnaeus, who named the Bengalese in 1766. We are all familiar with Darwin's work.................or are we? In the chapter entitled "Variation Under Domestication" from "On the Origin of Species" he says:

"One circumstance which has struck me much; namely, that all the breeders of various domestic animals ..... are firmly convinced that the several breeds to which each has attended, are decended from so many aboriginally  distinct species"

He goes on to at length to disprove this conviction and  concludes:

"When in any country several domestic breeds have once been established , their occasional with the aid of selection, has no doubt, largely aided in the formation of new sub breeds [such as the Euro Bengalese]; but this has been greatly exaggerated ...   I am convinced that the accumulative action of selection, whether applied methodically and more quickly, or unconsciously and more slowly, but more effectively, is by far the predominant power."

Put another way, by implication, before Darwin's time it was assumed that because not all the characteristics of a domesticated breed matched those of a wild species, it was assumed the former must be the result of crossing of several  species (this is the basis upon the Bengalese hybrid myth was developed).  Darwin questioned this assumption. According to theory, differences between the  White Rumped Munia and the Bengalese can be better accounted for as being the result of selective breeding of one species by the Chinese or Japanese over a long period rather than hybridisation between two or more species. As you no doubt are aware, Darwin's views largely reshaped those of the evolutionists and geneticists in his time and have formed the basis for for modern evolutionary science.

Of course the fact that a Bengalese may be piebald, fawn, chestnut, chocolate dilute, fawn dilute, chestnut dilute, crested, frill, grey, pearl, ino or white is attributable to a mutation and is a separate issue to the one about the ancestry of the finch. Throughout this article I am referring to the natural chocolate or wild form. The piebald effect is caused by one of two separate mutations, one of which now predominates the breed and has a complex genetic make-up which has been described as "penetrance".  (As a side note, the fact that selfs have traditionally been so uncommon in Australia is that, as far as I am aware, we never benefited from an import of wild White Rumped Munias which Europe received from Asia from the 1950's and 60's).

to be continued....

Monday, November 7, 2011

A Misguided Belief to Dispel.1

A Misguided Belief to Dispel
By Mark Shipway
March 2003 

Few Aviculturalists are unaware of the espoused fostering abilities of the Bengalese (Lonchura domestica - this scientific name mat now be inappropriate) and the contribution it has made to aviculture. Despite this contribution, it rarely raises any interest in avicultural literature in Australia. This article draws the readers attention to the irony that this common bird is probably the most misunderstood finch in Australian aviculture today. It's time to do justice for the bird which has done so much for us in the past and will, no doubt, into the future.
With the escalating interest in the Bengalese in recent years in the U.S., Japan and Europe, it has now been accepted that the Bengalese, like the domesticated breeds of the Jungle Fowl, Rock Dove and various duck species such as the Mullard, is merely the domesticated form of a wild species,  in its case the White Rumped Munia (Lonchura striata)(Right Picture). Consequently, you will often read its scientific name as L. striata or L. striata domestica The long held avicultural opinion that the Bengalese is a hybrid with unknown ancestry is a misguided belief probably sourced from the early avicultural pioneers' unfamiliarity with the genetic principals of domestication and sustained by our lack of knowledge of the species from which the finch is derived. It appears that ornithologists and European and American Munia specialists have now accepted these developments, but in many ways, this view has not been espoused by the general avicultural community.

In modern times, rightly or wrongly, the hybrid belief may have been exploited so as to justify hybridising the pure Bengalese with other species to produce new types, or in Australia's case, to improve or create Self Bengalese. In 1999 I attended Londons National Bengalese Fanciers Association annual show and noticed that a majority of the finches present were a new, recently imported strain from Continental Europe which was the result of hybridisation and backcrossing with the Black Munia (Lonchura stygia) from Southern Irian Jaya or as by one breeder, the White Headed Munia (Lonchura maja). This "type" is aptly named by the Americans as the "Euro" Society (Bengalese) and is obviously not available in Australia. They are effectively F3 and F4 generation birds with fixated imported characteristics. 

My view on the origin of the Bengalese developed independently of views overseas but was confirmed by my subsequent research into these views. I have set out the evidence below chich convinced me about the origin of the pure Bengalese.

to be continued..... 

Mark Shipway

A key figure in the development of the Self Bengalese in Australia was the late Mark Shipway. My Selfs that I have now are from my friend James in Queensland and James bred his birds with Mark in years past so it would be safe to say that my Selfs could be descendants of Mark's Bengalese. Mark was  from what I understand a driving force in starting the Bengalese Breeders Society and was undoubtedly very passionate about cultivating interest in the pure Self Bengalese. He was a prolific writer and I have come across an article that he wrote that was published in 2003. I have been careful to try and gain some permission to use his writings in my blog and since James was very close to Mark, I mentioned this to him and he was happy to endorse my use of Mark's text and he was confident that relevant family members would also approve. However if any relevant family members that read this have any objection to my quoting of Mark Shipway's articles then please do not hesitate to contact me.

Above: White Rumped Munia         

This begins a series of posts that will quote an article of Mark Shipway's called "A Misguided Belief to Dispel" you will be able to search for it in future in the topic section on the left under "Mark Shipway"

I hope you get as much out of reading this as I certainly do.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Grey Self Bengalese 1

There is a colour that we do not and have not had any reference to having in Australia, and that is the Grey mutation of the Bengalese Finch. The Grey mutation has only the black pigments out of the two Bengalese colour factors Black and Red/Brown. So hence the appropriate name the Grey. I look forward to seeing such a bird in the flesh one day in Australia.

3 Baby Chestnuts

My Chestnuts have hatched 3 young on the weekend and are sitting nice and tight on the nest. I have been trying to feed them the Paswell soft food mix but for some reason, they wont touch it even when its mixed with greens and sprouted seed. This soft food is supposed to have the highest protein levels when compared to egg and biscuit but when watching my other birds also they have not seemed as keen on this as the egg and biscuit that I have used before. I have just started giving the chestnuts the sprouted seed on its own and they love it. The sprouted seed that I have was bought pre-made and frozen from Rob at Ace Colony Aviaries. I have seen him making it and he takes special care to include the anti bacterial agents to avoid any fouling.   I will probably try the egg and biscuit again in the future.

In my other breeding cage things haven't been going so well. The only other hen that I have which is the light or dilute chestnut has not been displaying as being very broody. I have tried her with a couple of different cock birds with not much success, to the point that I have wondered if it is a hen at all! I had been trying some nesting material in this time that I had found myself and I have now decided that it is a bit too stiff and stick-like and could  be a reason for the reluctance.

Tim had told me previously that it is good practice to give Bengalese seed mixed with a small amount of cod liver oil to bring the Finches into "Breeding Condition". I have since read that the Vitamin D that is in cod liver oil helps the finch absorb more calcium which is important for egg shell strength. I guess that this will trigger something in the hen that tells her that "she is ready"....well I've put this theory to the test and I have paired the two Dilute Chestnuts together and have been feeding this to them for a couple of days. Also today I popped over to Ace Colony Aviaries and picked up some coconut fiber nesting material.

We will see!!