DTI001 20_12_17 

Bengalese Finches
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Introducing the Jaspe

Jean-Paul Glemet profiles a distinctive coloured canary, newly developed on the Continent. Translation by Geoff Walker

Mosaic red agate Jaspe single-factor: striations very evident, good reduction of phaeomelaninMosaic red agate Jaspe single-factor: striations very evident, good reduction of phaeomelanin

THE Jaspe mutation has its origin, not in the wild or domestic canary, but in the European siskin (Carduelis spinus). In this finch, aviculturists have produced and developed the dilute (or pastel) mutation. By selective breeding, a double-factor version was produced. Breeders then outcrossed this to other species, notably the Magellan or hooded siskin (C. magellanicus) and the black-hooded red siskin (C. cucullata).

With double-factor dilute siskins there is, at the same time, a dilution of the melanin pigment throughout the bird and a dramatic dilution of the melanin colour in both the flight and tail feathers. This was the story with the pairings between the double-factor Magellan siskin x the canary and the double-factor red-hooded black siskin x the canary, which transmitted the two factors in the inheritance of the canary and allowed us to achieve the canary that we now know as the Jaspe. This most certainly may be called a canary and not a hybrid, because we now have ninth-generation birds.


Heredity and genetics


From its mode of inheritance the Jaspe should perhaps be considered a new mutation. This mode of inheritance is of an autosomnal dominant = single-factor dominant without the lethal factor in double dose. A classic bird (i.e. non-Jaspe) is J+ J+, the single-factor is J+J and the double-factor J J. Therefore, when crossing a Jaspe with a classic, we can get Jaspes in both sexes, which proves that the mode of inheritance is not sex-linked. Because of this dominant trend there are no carriers of Jaspe.


The Jaspe gene can be appreciated fully when it is in double dose (because of the dilution effect). However, when in single dose it already gives a dilution of the melanin in the plumage. There is a provisional standard of excellence for the single-factor Jaspe, but most certainly the double-factor will show the true extent of the mutation.


This mutation can be attached to all four classic colours (black, brown, agate and isabel). It can also be attached as either a single or double-factor to all four.

Mosaic yellow brown Jaspe double-factor: bad reduction of phaeomelanin with a slight phaeomelanin spangle is evident. Yellow lipochrome in the flights is acceptableMosaic yellow brown Jaspe double-factor: bad reduction of phaeomelanin with a slight phaeomelanin spangle is evident. Yellow lipochrome in the flights is acceptable

Possible pairings


1: Double-factor Jaspe x classic = 100 per cent single-factor Jaspe


2: Single-factor Jaspe x classic = 50 per cent single-factor Jaspe, 50 per cent classic


3: Single-factor Jaspe x single-factor Jaspe = 25 per cent double-factor Jaspe, 50 per cent single-factor Jaspe, 25 per cent classic


4: Double-factor Jaspe x single-factor Jaspe = 50 per cent double-factor Jaspe, 50 per cent single-factor Jaspe


5: Double-factor Jaspe x double-factor Jaspe = 100 per cent double-factor Jaspe


At the moment the majority of the pairings made are between a single-factor Jaspe and a classic. Pairings with top-quality classic birds will enhance the beauty of the Jaspe.


Following this improvement it will be more and more possible to make single-factor Jaspe x single-factor Jaspe pairings to produce high-quality double-factor birds. The goal is to increase the melanin in the double dilute birds, which at the moment are too pale.

Details of the back of a single-factor agate Jaspe – black stem, bordered by grey with clear edgesDetails of the back of a single-factor agate Jaspe – black stem, bordered by grey with clear edges


 Characteristics of the Jaspe
■ No action on either the phaeomelanin or lipochrome.
■ Dilution of the colour of the eumelanin black and brown.
■ Modification of the provision of the eumelanin in the feather. On the normal plumage you will find a concentration of melanin down the central stem.
Sometimes there is a zone showing less melanin than other central stems where a band of melanin pigment exists (more or less dark and more or less wide) and finally on the edge of the feather sometimes you find phaeomelanin mixed with lipochrome.
■ Modification in the tail feathers. The external feathers are much paler than the internal feathers.
■ Modification in the flight feathers, with the seven or eight outer feathers being very diluted.
A word of warning, though: perhaps the dilution that we are seeing in the flight and secondary feathers isn’t a characteristic of the Jaspe per se, but simply of its Carduelis forebears.
With selection, we will be able to eliminate the dilution from the wings and tail over a number of generations.
A judge’s view of Jaspes
Ten points to watch for in a Jaspe on the showbench
1. With all single-factor Jaspes we should be looking for, and favouring, birds with striations. It must be a visual eumelanin striation, not the spangle-like effect that we associate with the phaeo.
2. With black single-factor Jaspe, the preference is for birds with a dark eumelanin in the plumage and no phaeomelanin. With this version, we also need to see birds with well developed oxidation of the beak and legs, etc. (We know this to be possible because examples already exist.)
3. In the brown Jaspe, it is difficult to have well defined eumelanin striations. There is a preference at the moment for birds to show weak striations. (A brown with spread-out pigment without phaeomelanin is better than a bird with a false pattern consisting of phaeomelanin.)
4. In agate Jaspes, we are looking for a bird that is as “luminous” as possible. We are seeing birds that have striations that are too wide. We are always looking for a fine, narrow striation.
5. Double-factor Jaspes are sought with as much melanin pigment as possible and the appearance, however slight of a striation. We have to tolerate for the moment birds that have irregular pigment on the back and flanks.
6. With all forms of the Jaspe, we have to sanction areas of plumage that have not been affected by the mutation.
7. We can sanction small areas of non-pigmentation, notably on the head and neck. We will be less severe if there is light non-pigmented spangling on the back. This has to be tolerated for the moment.
8. We need to be vigilant and not accept visible non-pigmentation under the beak and sometimes around the eyes.
9. It is unacceptable for the flight, secondary or tail feathers to be devoid of pigment.
10. The presence of any form of lipochrome colouring in the flights and tail of the white ground or mosaic feather-type Jaspe will be viewed as with all other colours.

Jean-Paul Glemet, along with Patrice Hery, are OMJ judges for coloured canaries. They have been responsible for introducing the Jaspe canary to breeders through a new specialist club: Club Européen du Jaspe Canary. Geoff Walker is the author of the well-known book Coloured, Type & Song Canaries: A Complete Guide.

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