Breeding for Black: Dull and Deep 100 years ago
Weakly coloured blacks
From the mating of blue-bars or checks with self blacks and other
colours with the colour spread gene often also dull grey-blacks with
dark-black set-off bars or checks are produced. Often with set off
tail band (Fig. 1). That was still documented by Sarah van Hoosen
Jones about 100 years ago. In contrast to theory? Shouldn't Spread
as the dominant gene cover the pattern 'bars' and possibly the
'checks'? According to Radio Eriwan: In principle yes, but
... Spread often only partially covers the pattern. And whether, and
to what extent, depends on other modifiers. In the chapter on
Toy-Stencil for example, one will learn that the bars or checks in
blacks even stand out strikingly.
Back to Non-Toy-Stencils. Weakly coloured blacks from experiences in
practice are not mutants, Spread is not lacking. When only the check
pattern instead of bars is genetically present under the weak black,
the colouration becomes more uniform, but not as intensive like in
deep black. At dull black not only bar patches but also the check
spots stand out on the wing shield on a grey ground colour. In the
case of checks and T-check birds, this also makes the entire wing
shield darker (Fig. 3). The darker bars and check marks of the
weakly coloured blacks correspond to these markings in blues.
Paradoxically at first sight, in 'Toy Stencil' it is precisely these
bar and check spots that are strikingly 'printed' white through the
black ground colour (for details see ‘Pigeon Genetics’ and ‘Genetik
der Taubenfärbungen). However, by many of them the color never
becomes as intense as in deep-black individuals.
Fig. 1 und 2: Weaker coloured female hen with translucent bars and
lightened edge feathers with visible tail band (source: Sell,
Genetik der Taubenfärbungen 2015, there fig. 221). On the right
translucent bars, no distinct tail band and no white outer vane,
from the mother-side heterozygous smoky. Both heterozygous spread
from a blue parent from the stock of the author.
Fig. 3: Black with translucent checks from the own loft,
heterozygous for Spread, Dirty and Smoky
100 years ago: Deep-Black
A darkening of the black appearance is also achieved by Dirty and
Smoky. However, expectations should not be set too high. Smoky, for
example, may be helpful to blur contrasts of the translucent
patterns with the moult. Nevertheless, the author, for example,
initially also had only weakly coloured smoky blacks in his breed
Other factors intensifying the colour and gloss had to be added, for
which indications were already found in the literature in 1922.
Sarah van Hoosen Jones dealt among others with the modification of
the depth and sheen of the color of many black birds and thematised
‘Deep’ as a factor responsible for intense and uniform colouration.
She distinguished the blacks into two groups. The weaker coloured
blacks were called 'dull'. And, with underneath checks, ‘dull black
checks’ (Fig. 4). Whether the alternative 'Deep' is an allele of
Spread suspected in the literature or, as indirectly stated in the
article, a modifier acting on Spread, is open. According to one's
own assumption, it is more likely the interaction of several
modifiers. Dull without translucent pattern are not excluded by van
Hoosen Jones either, and some weaker coloured own black homing
pigeons also genetically had the bar pattern.
Fig. 4: Dull black check at Sarah van Hoosen Jones 1922
Conversion of a strain from 'Dull' to 'Deep'
When traditional attempts to improve colouration are not enough, the
only option is to add intensity factors from other breeds in the
style of 'new breeding'. Traditionally means are many years of
selection with the aim to weed out negative modifiers and enrich
positive ones. Since that did not work, the introduction of the
lacking modifiers was the option.
Fig. 5: Black smoky Pomeranian Highflyers, at the left with weak
colour, at the right after upgrading by outcrossing. Source: Sell,
Genetik der Taubenfärbungen, there fig. 253), Achim 2015.
In this way, a largely uniform and intense (deep) black strain has
indeed been achieved (Fig. 5). As is shown in breeding, uniform and
intense colored deep-black may be underneath genetically bar pattern
and also heterozygous Spread only.
Fig. 6: Deep (left) and dull (right) from the own loft. At the right
a heterozygous Spread, heterozygous Smoky from a blue-bar wild-type
Uniformly coloured in these intensely coloured blacks are also those
'Deep', which genetically have the bar pattern in the background.
Occasionally the bars show slightly in the juvenile plumage
and depending on light. Largely uniform are also those that are only
heterozygous for the spread factor. This is confirmed by the blue
juvenile from the black old bird in Fig. 7.
Fig. 7: Black adult cock and young blue bar as indicator for
Black without Spread
Not only are there genetic blacks that do not look black to
outsiders, there are also blacks that genetically do not have
Spread. This is the case with the wings of the black-winged Gimpel-Pigeons.
After crosses with blues and blue-checks there are checkered ones in
the first generation, and there are no blacks in successive matings
either. Deep blacks without the spread factor were also kites in the
author's Danish Brown Stipper breeding (Fig. 8).
Fig. 8: Danish Tumblers, Brown Stipper-cock and Kite hen from the
author’ former strain
For black Starling pigeons it is often written in literature that
they do not have Spread. This does not seem to have been documented
by meaningful photos and succession matings of a first generation so
far. Thus, confusion with weakly coloured blacks of the first
generation - as shown at the beginning - cannot be excluded.
Observations have also been made in black Gazzi of the Italian
Modenese, which indicate the absence of spread. So, there are still
mysteries to be unravelled.
Sell, Axel, Pigeon Genetics. Applied Genetics in the Domestic
Pigeon, Achim 2012, www.taubensell.de
Sell, Axel, Genetik der Taubenfärbungen, Achim 2015.
Van Hoosen Jones, Sarah, Studies on inheritance in pigeons IV,
Genetics VII 1922, pp. 466-507.