Ash Red (BA)

All plumage color found in our pigeons is produced from one of two melanic pigments.  These two forms of melanic pigments are eumelanin and phaeomelanin. 

In the production of these two melanins it is the biochemical process which decides if you get eumelanin or phaeomelanin pigment and this outcome is dependent on an activity ratio between tyrosinase and tyrosine.  A higher ratio of tyrosinase in the biochemical process results in eumelanin being produced, while a lower ratio gives phaeomelanin.   In other words, if you increase the amounts of tyrosinase you end up with brown or blue/black eumelanin pigment; while, an increase in tyrosine results in red phaeomelanin pigment.  The thing that decides if eumelanin will result in either a brown or a black pigment depends upon the completeness of the oxidation process.  When this process is incomplete, eumelanin results in brown pigment while a more complete oxidation process yields black pigment.  On the other hand, phaeomelanin is a reddish brown pigment and it is from this pigment, that our birds get their red color.  Diluted forms of brown eumelanin becomes a khaki color; diluted black eumelanin yields a silver dun color; while diluted phaeomelanin gives us our golden yellows.  Therefore the three basic color forms we have are brown, blue/black which is the normal wild type and ash red.  It is the ash red pigment color that is the most dominant of the three and ash red is the color form which we will discuss here.  

Ash red or dominant red (as it is sometimes referred to) is a sex-linked mutation, with the genetic symbol BA.   It can be found in many varied phenotypes from the normal ash red patterns of barless, bar, checker and t-pattern velvet to any number of combinations with other mutants such as dilute, pale, reduced, rubella, grizzle, spread, indigo etc just to name a few.  Each of these combinations will differ in some color form, yet genetically their base color remains. 

Having said that, I must point out that our pigeons are not just one form of melamic pigment or the other, rather they are combination that is predominantly one form or the other.  In other words, studies show that varying amounts of both eumelanin and phaeomelanin will exist jointly in our birds feathers. Black and brown will be predominantly eumelanin with small amounts of phaeomelanin, while ash red will be predominately phaeomelanin with small amounts of eumelanin present. This explains why some blues will have bronze showing in their otherwise blue/black feathers; or why some ash reds will have black ink spots.  In the case of many ash red cocks, these ink spots often points to their being heterozygous for both blue/black and ash red.  However their presence being found on some hens cannot be explained by a heterozygous condition since these hens are never heterozygous for basic color.  In their case, and in the case of some cocks, these small amounts of black are the result of other factors in the pigment production process; mainly the availability or ratio of tyrosinase / tyrosine within the cell.

Ash Red Velvet (BA) (CT)

This Ash Red Velvet is a deep red color.   Some call it Brick Red; a term also used to describe other forms of solid reds such as Recessive Red (e) and Indigo Red Velvets (+), (In), (CT).   All three of these Red forms are shown on my Other Reds page. Of these three Red forms, only Ash Red is a true color.   The others, all result from a pattern and or modifying genes producing a change to the basic color and result in a bird that appears to be red.   In the case of recessive red (e) it could be any true color with any pattern.   Indigo Red velvet (+), (In), (CT) ,however; is only formed by combining the color blue (+) with the modifier for Indigo (In) and the pattern called t-pattern checker or velvet (CT).

Ash Red Check Dilute - Ash Yellow

This Yellow Check hen is simply an Ash Red with the Dilute gene modifying her color into a lovely golden yellow (BA); (d); (C)//(C).   Pigeons which display this modifying gene known as Dilute (d) are born naked.   They will not have any yellow down fuzz.  Since the gene is sex linked, a cock bird must be homozygous (carrying two genes) for dilute to show any effect for color.   Hens can only possess this gene once.   When they do it is displayed.

Some more Ash Reds - a Mealy, a Check, a Strawberry and a Grizzle

An Ash Red Mealy (BA), (C+) is the bared pattern form of this color.   A Red Check is the checker pattern while Strawberry is the term used to describe the modifier known as sooty or what many Americans mistakenly call pencil.   Spread Ash is the spread form and is not red but creamy ash in color.  Ash Red Grizzle is more white than red but their red color is seen in the form of a few red specks or feathers.   A double dose (homozygous) of the grizzle gene will produce a nearly all white bird with ivory bill and colored eyes.


Ash Red Check pattern (BA), (C) on the left and a Mealy - Ash Red Bar pattern (BA); (C+) on the right.

Strawberry - Ash Red Sooty pattern. Notice how the Sooty gene has also darkened the ash color of the wings and tail. Compare this to the red check above which does not carry Sooty. (BA), (C+), (So).

Ash Red Grizzle (BA), (G)

Next Page - The Pattern Series

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Copyright 1999 by Ronald Huntley.
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Ronald R. Huntley
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