Sunshine's Aviary

Red Factor

Genetics:

The Red Factor canary was produced by crossing a yellow canary with a male Black-Hooded Red Siskin Finch from Venezuela. The red genes of the Red Siskin were thus inherited by the offspring of the breeding pair. Male offspring were in turn mated back to yellow canary hens. Fertile females then could be crossed with red siskin finches until the line was purified and the red gene intensified.


A Red Factor canary with no dark feathers contains no melanin, and is called "clear". These red birds have a gene that suppresses the melanin. Sometimes they have tiny areas of melanin (dark feathers) and those are called "ticks". Many people prefer a bird with small "ticks" or some distinctive pattern of dark feathers, while others want them clear.

Colorants:

In addition to the genetic component, coloring foods must be supplied to effectively intensify this red color. In nature, the birds eat various compounds which are absorbed by the red genes and produce the bright red plumage. The natural compound which produces the red color is beta carotene which is found in vegetables like carrots, several varieties of grass seeds, paprika, and dark vegetables like red peppers. However, this is not intense enough to develop maximum coloring and breeders use synthetic agents to maximize the color. The most popular coloring agent is Canthaxanthin, which can be fed via nestling food or other soft foods or suspended in the drinking water.

Our Philosophy & Practice:

Our philosophy at Sunshine's Aviary, with respect to color-feeding, is that red factor genes will not exhibit unless the canary is fed the necessary red pigments. Therefore, we color feed all our red and bronze canaries with a high quality mixture of Bogena Intensif and Canthanxanthin. We use the minimum amount required to achieve even coloring, and we color-feed year long, with occasional brief breaks. To raise the healthiest canaries we also continue to feed dark green vegetables, even while the canaries are molting. These vegetables contain xanthophyll, which unfortunately compete with the red pigments we feed them. We know that our birds could be of a darker red shade if we eliminated xanthophyll from the diet (also present in certain seeds). However, we prefer to raise healthy canaries than to compromise nutrition for several weeks, in order to achieve a darker shade of red.