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Recessive Red by Frank Mosca

Recessive red European Carneau. This picture gleefully swiped from: Koninklijke Club De Luxeduif Mechelen Belgium



Red pigment is red pigment -- Doc Hollander has thunked me over the head about that often enough. Ignoring the bronzes, there are at least two main inheritance pathways for red pigment in pigeons. One is a sex-linked dominant mutation -- Ash-red. This is the common red of the homing pigeon. You can read about it in the Ash-red article already on line. In this article, we discuss the other red -- recessive red. Recessive red is neither sex-linked nor dominant. Instead, it is a recessive autosomal mutation. That means that both cock and hen have to carry two copies of it for it to show itself and that the mutation is carried on chromosomes other than the sex-chromosomes. Recessive red is also epistatic to many all patterns and many other mutations. Epistatis is easy to understand. It's just a term which mean that the particular mutation under discussion can hide other mutations which we would normally expect to see. It differs from dominance in that it is not on the same chromosome as the mutation it hides. For example: checker (chequer) is dominant to barless. Both mutations are on the same chromosome and are alleles, alternatives to each other. A bird carrying a gene for checker and one for barless will be seen as a checker. However, if this same bird also carries two genes for recessive red, it will be seen as a solid brick red colored pigeon. In like manner, if a bird beside it - let's say one which carries brown, Spread, Checker and Indigo also carries two genes for recessive red, we'll see the same thing: a brick red pigeon.
A recessive red pigeon can quite literally be almost anything under its coat of recessive red. It's like putting three men in red sweaters -- one may have on a black shirt, one no shirt, one a red shirt, but we can't tell because all we see is the sweater. Similarly, we can have four pigeons in front of us, all recessive red, all appearing the same. That is, they have similar phenotypes. Yet, all may be very different genetically. Recessive red doesn't have it all its own way though. There are some mutations which in turn are epistatic to it - recessive white, e.g. A solid white pigeon may be recessive red under that white and we can't tell. Other mutations interact with recessive red to produce something different enough to be distinquish visually. Almond with recessive red produces a lighter colored pigeon with darkened spots throughout. English Shortface Tumbler breeders call such birds DeRoys and the name has been taken into the terminology of many breeds now. Recessive red mottles seem to be the result of homozygous recessive red interacting with some bronze (Ken Davis is working on this hypothesis at the moment); recessive red with dominant opal gives a somewhat attractive pinkish color. Reduced recessive red also produces a somewhat pinkish bird. Though in both these cases, the "pinkish" term leaves much to the imagination especially for those who hope they're going to see something like a flamingo. Recessive red with recessive opal - I have no idea. I've never seen such a bird. Dilute with recessive red give us recessive yellow, and so on.
If you have one recessive red bird and wish to have more like it, simply mate the bird. Take any of its young of the opposite sex and mate it back to the recessive red parent and you should get about 50% recessive red in both sexes. You can also intermate the siblings and get about the same. Now comes the problem. If you're trying for show quality recessive reds, it's not an easy task. Recessive red doesn't usually do a great job covering the blue of the tail and underbody when it's all alone. Most show quality recessive red birds are combinations of bronze, reds, Indigos and any other reddening factors to make each feather of the bird appear a deep chestnut color from beak to tail. Producing such a pigeon is by no means an easy task and it's definitely a tribute to any breeder who can raise one.

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