Frequently asked questions

David writes:

Noticed on your site you call the dilute of Ash Red Ash Yellow.  I would like to remind you that the dilute of Ash is Cream.  Should be called Cream Yellow.  So many make this same mistake.  Same as saying Blue Dun.  Can't have Dilute and Intense terms in same name.

Best    Dave

Hi David

Interesting comment; may I ask what your controlling source is for your statement that the dilute of Ash is cream only and never yellow?

I hope you will agree that Wendell M. Levi (author of “The Pigeon”) and Dr. Willard F Hollander (world’s leading expert in pigeon genetics) would both know the proper terms related to plumage colors in pigeons.    If so, let me direct you to paragraphs (512) page 309 and paragraph (519) page 312 in Levi’s book where these terms are used.  Dr. Hollander wrote this portion of the book for Levi.

·         Paragraph (512) page 309                  Silver bears the same relation to blue that yellow does to red (519) and dun does to black.  When the dilution factor is introduced into blue, silver is the result.  Silver-colored birds are always short-downed as nestlings (595).  So a short-downed squab produced from a pair of reds is yellow (519), and a short-downed squab produced from a pair of blues is always silver and a hen.

·         Paragraph (519) page 312                  ............................................ Genetically yellow is the dilute of either dominant or recessive red.  Its color granules are of red pigment, so sparsely arranged that the effect is yellow.  Yellow nestlings are short-downed (595) and usually have an albino-like eye...............................

This book was originally written in 1941 and has been revised many times since.  At the time of the original writing the term dominant red was used to mean ash red.  These terms “dominant red” and “ash red” are interchangeable and are both used today.  Most Europeans use the term dominant red while we here in the US use ash red.   

Next I would like to direct you to Joe Quinn’s book “The pigeon Breeder’s Notebook – An Introduction to Pigeon Sciences” page 35 center of the page where my good friend Joe makes the following statement where he lists the possible genotypes, for a single sex chromosome are: and then he goes on to list several, one of which is ...............BAd    dilute ash-red (ash-yellow). 

And finally I would like to direct you to Dr Axel Sell’s book “Breeding and Inheritance in Pigeons” page 17 where he writes .........................>Typical examples are mealy bars (ash-red bars), mealy checkers (ash-red checkers), cream bars or checkers (ash-yellow bars or checkers).  ......................<

Then turn to the back of the book on page 200 under the index and you will find the following:.....Ash-Yellow = dilute Ash-Red.

Now David these four men are well known the world over for their contributions to pigeon genetics.  They too used the term ash yellow and saw nothing wrong in doing so.  The question should be “why did they choose the term ash yellow over cream yellow”.  The answer is simple. There is more than one way to produce a cream yellow phenotype.  However there is only one way to produce an ash yellow phenotype and that is to combine ash red with dilute; but there is more than one way to produce a cream yellow phenotype.  All you need do is produce an ash red mimic and add dilute into the mix. 

·         You see Dave when you take an ash red mimic and add dilute you get the same phenotype as you would with the real thing.  Both homozygous blue, homozygous indigo; and homozygous blue, homozygous red phase recessive opal are mimics for ash red and sometimes it can be dam hard to tell them apart.  Throw in dilute and you will produce that cream colored wing shield and yellow pattern marking you speak of in describing your cream yellow.

There is nothing improper in using the terms ash yellow and recessive yellow to differentiate between the dilute of ash red and the dilute of recessive red.

As for your problem of combining an intense with a dilute I will just say this. The term Ash does not necessarily mean intense anymore than it means dilute or extreme dilute.  The term Ash denotes a genetic mutation from blue/black to red and this allele, known as ash can be produced in the intense, the dilute or even the extreme dilute forms just as it can be produced in combination with any other color modifying mutation such as reduced, indigo or dominant opal etc..  

Cream yellow is a show term normally seen as a dilute ash red bar and there is nothing wrong with using that term either.  Both terms correctly describe the phenotype but cream yellow is not limited to just one genotype.  Ash yellow is. 

I look forward to reading your sources.


Ron Huntley


Hi Ron,

I have a basic question that I am unable to find the answer to, and I've not ever tried to make a mating in order to know the answer on my own.


Pattern as a general rule must be present or carried on both the cock and hen side in order to be produced.  My question relates to the order of dominance in patter.  I have a Blue-Check Cock that carries both Milky and Bar Pattern.  My question is if this cock is mated to a Barless Hen, will I get some Barred birds?  Logic would tell me that I would produce Blue-Checks carrying Barless.  However, since the Hen being Barless, would the cock carrying Bar reign over a small percentage of the young?


I also wanted to ask/comment about the mutation called Rubella.  It occurs to me that in reading the results of the matings used and tested, that the birds could simply be Dilute Indigo.  They all show the phenotype of Indigo/Andalusian birds.  I'm very interested in this color whatever the case.  I've bred Dilute Indigos as well as a Dilute Spread Ash Yellow, or Ash-Yellow Andalusian if you will.  The Yellow Andalusian expressed many of the visual traits you list and discuss under the Rubella topic.  I was interested in your thoughts on this.


Thank you in advance for your help and time,

Eric Stephens

Frisco, TX





Every pigeon will carry two genes for pattern.  There are no exceptions to this rule.  One gene will come from the cock the other from the hen.  Nothing else matters in this equation be it color or color modifiers like milky, dilute or anything else; just the two genes for pattern.  Now they both might be the same such as barless//barless or they could be different such as checker// bar but there will always be two pattern genes present and one comes from each parent.


When both genes are of the same type such as barless//barless or bar//bar then naturally that pattern is the pattern which will be displayed.  But when one gene possibility (allele) is different from the other allele then the outcome will be that of the more dominant of the two. 


Dominance for the pattern alleles start with barless as the most recessive with bar, light checker, checker, dark checker and t-pattern being more dominant as you go up the scale of patterns.  T-pattern being the most dominant in the series while barless is the most recessive.


All barless phenotypes (what is displayed) are pure for the barless gene alleles (barless//barless).


A bar phenotype may be split (heterozygous) for barless//bar or it could be pure (homozygous) for bar//bar and the bared phenotype would still be the same i.e. a bared pigeon.


You’re barless mated to a checker heterozygous or split for bar could result in the following:

·         barless//bar and display as a bared phenotype

·         barless//checker and display as a checker phenotype

So to answer your question is “Yes” you’re barless to a checker split for bar can produce some bared youngsters.


You also asked about the mutation known as Rubella. 


Rubella is a recessive sex linked color mutation related to Reduced.  These two sex-linked recessives are alleles of each other with reduced being the more dominant of the two.  Indigo on the other hand is a dominant autosomal mutation (meaning it is not sex-linked) and is in no way related to either reduced or rubella.  We know this by conducting extensive breeding tests.  In fact, it is possible to produce a phenotype that would be both reduced and indigo or one that would be both rubella and indigo just as easily as we can produce a phenotype that is dilute and indigo.


Andalusian is not a gene, it is a phenotype produced by combining the genes for blue with indigo and spread.  In other words, all andalusians are indigos but all indigos are not andalusian.  It depends on what else is in the genetic makeup and for indigo it to be andalusian it must include the color blue with the spread modifier.


It is possible to make a dilute ash red or “Ash-Yellow” but technically speaking you cannot make an Ash-Yellow Andalusian because an andalusian must be blue and not ash red by definition.   If you produce an ash red with dilute, spread and indigo the combination would be yellow or gold but it would in no way be considered andalusian.


The reason the rubella phenotypes express in similar fashion to other genetic phenotypes is due to the similarity in the total genetic mix.  When red or bronze pigment is expressed in the dilute form, it is seen as a yellow/gold color.  Reduced, Rubella, recessive opal and Indigo all produce a bronze like color in their pattern markings.  Combine them with dilute and this bronze like pattern becomes a yellow/gold color.  Each is slightly different but in general they appear very similar.  Being similar however, does not equate to being the same.


I am going to put photos of five different phenotypes for you to study.  Each is genetically different but the outcome is nearly the same.



Blue spread rubella

 Blue spread reduced.


 Blue spread dominant opal (poor photo with too much light)


 Blue spread recessive opal


 Blue spread dominant opal with indigo (Opalusion)


Now they all really do look similar; so the question begs as to why this is so.  The answer is obvious; they all include the wild type color blue with a modifier for spread and some other color modification (reduced, rubella, recessive opal or dominant opal) which will produces a metallic or washed out tail bar. 


These combinations produce very similar phenotypes but we know they are not the same genetically because when we test breed them we can see that some are sex-linked recessives (reduced and rubella) some are autosomal recessive (recessive opal) and some are dominant autosomal (dominant opal and dominant opal/ indigo combination).   


The reason they look so similar is the fact that blue spread birds with metallic or washed out tail bars will produce blue metallic spread phenotypes.


Well Eric I apologize for being so long winded but I hope this explanation helps to answer your questions.  If you are interested in obtaining more information on rubella please contact Dr. Lester Paul Gibson ( )   As far as I know, he is the only person here in the US with rubella stock.  He was gracious enough to give me one but unfortunately it escaped on the same day I was placing it into it's new breeding cage.   Up and gone into the wild never to be seen again. Needless to say I was pissed but stuff happens.


Ron Huntley

Hello Ron

My question; I have Lemon and Khaki racers at the moment.   They manage, but are not top quality fliers.   How do I breed them to my current stock to produce top quality racers with these colors?

Regards, Bennie
Hello Bennie

If you want to upgrade your lemon and khaki race birds (both sex linked recessive modifiers i.e. extreme dilute blue as lemon; and dilute brown as khaki) do the following with NO EXCEPTIONS:

Step 1 -    Using only lemon and or khaki hens, mate them to your best performing or racing cock birds of any color.   Fly or discard all the young daughters produced as none of them will carry the genetic material you’re after.   Keep only the sons for the next step.

Step 2 -    Select the best young flying cocks from step 1 (regardless of their displayed color) and mate them to your best racing hens of any color.   Color is of no concern at this point.   Since lemon and kahki are both sex linked recessives we know that all the young cocks produced from step 1 will be carrying the genes we are after.

Step 3 -    Select the best young lemon and or kahki hens produced under step 2 and repeat the process beginning at step one again.

Fly or discard all the young cocks produced under step 3 as only 50 % of them will carry the genetic material you’re after and none of them will show it so you will not know which ones are good for continuation in the program and which are not.   Only breeding tests will answer that question and we do not have to waste time finding out.   Simply select the best young lemon and or kahki hens and begin the process over again at step one.   In fact you could even use the same original cocks used to repeat the process or you can bring in others, it makes no difference as long as they are of the race quality you’re after.

Continue the above sequence of steps 1 thru 3 as many times as is necessary to up grade your lemon and kahki birds.   When you reach the point where you’re satisfied with the results, simply mate the best young hens of lemon or kahki color to their sires and you will produce some young cocks that are lemon and or kahki.

Using the above system, only hens will be hatched that are either lemon or kahki, while the young cocks could be any color depending on what you introduced in the original gene pool.

Hope that helps and please let me know how it turns out.

Ronald Huntley


From Garry Glissmeyer


Ron, I'm still learning here...   as I know Ash Red is our most dominant genotype, so was wondering if that fact over rides the tendency for Indigo to not allow the tailbar (or ribbon?) to express itself (color inhibited) when combined with Ash Red?
    My limited experience, and book-learnin' indicates Indigo inhibits the expression of a tail bar ... one of the 'tip offs' of Indigo phenotype.   But you are saying a blue-based checker modified with   Indigo creates a ribbon (light bar).  
    The few Indigos I have had in the loft, over the years, have all had a "silver" tail, no bar/ribbon.   I have not had an Ash Red Indigo, to my knowledge, so haven't experienced that phenotype.
    OK, now I'm primed and ready... elucidate :o)



Garry look at this blue indigo.  Note the deep red velvet with the blue tail.  Look closely at the tail bar and the tips of the wing feathers.  These are lighter than the other blue areas of the tail and the red areas of the wing shield pattern marking areas and the center portion of the wing flights. 


Now ask yourself these few questions.


1)         If I were to identify the course spread areas on a normal blue (this case a t-pattern velvet indigo) where would they be.  Answer the wing shield, center portions of the wing flights and some portions of the head and neck area.


2)         Where are the smooth spread areas to be found?  Answer the tail bar area and the wing tips along with a lesser portion of the neck and face of the bird.


3)         Where are the clumped areas to be found?  Answer the wing shield where there is no pattern or between the pattern markings, over the back, down the tail and under the breast.


4)         What color are these on a blue/black bird?  Answer: black for both smooth and course spread areas; gray or blue for the clumped areas.


5)         What color are they on a brown bird?   Answer: brown for both the smooth and course spread areas; tan or very, very light brown for the clumped areas.


6)         What color are they on an ash red bird?  Answer: smooth spread areas are ash while the course spread areas are red; light ash for the clumped areas.   Woooo there is a major difference here, did you catch it?


We know that clumped areas of pigment reflect light is such a way as to produce a very light effect thus the gray/blue in lieu of black, tan in lieu of brown and very light ash in lieu of red. 


What about the smooth spread areas of the ash red, why did they react differently?  Did the ash red gene wash out the wing tips and tail bar pigment to make it ash colored? 


Answer:  No ash red pigment is red phaeomelanin and the pigment rods produced are shaped differently than the eumelanin pigments of both black and brown.  Since pigment distribution plays a major role in the way color is reflected and is seen by our eyes, these pigment rods when distributed in a course verses a smooth fashion are seen by our eyes differently.  However the distribution differences are not enough to cause a noticeable difference in color for the eumelanin pigments of either black or brown.  However, in the case of red phaeomelanin this same difference in distribution combined with the difference in pigment rod shapes and size is indeed sufficient to cause a noticeable color change between the two.  Course red phaeomelanin reflects as red while smooth red phaeomelanin is seen as ash.


This pigment distribution difference is not limited to just ash red.  It is true for several other color modifiers as well.  In the case of indigo the course black pigment is being converted to a form of red phaeomelanin or red color where the course spread is produced and it reacts very similar to what you see on an ash red.   The smooth spread areas are also reacting in a similar fashion and they become ash like or as some would say appear washed out.  At the same time the clumped pigment areas (wing shield where no course spread is present, back and tail) remain a form of black eumelanin pigment and here its pigment distribution has been increased thus these areas become much darker and take on an indigo blue color when expressed on a blue/black base.  On brown or ash red this same tail area is not seen as indigo blue but a darker brown when on brown and a deep red when on ash red. 


As a side note for your interest, this pigment distribution difference in the smooth, course and clumped areas is why color changes when you include the effects of most other color modifiers such as dominant opal and or spread.  The rules for what is happening has not change, they continue but in combination with the other effects of the additional modifiers.  So when you see a tail bar that is washed out you know it is due to the effect these modifiers are having on the smooth spread areas and you should see the same or similar effect in the other smooth spread areas of the bird.  Same is true for the course spread and the clumped areas.  It’s why the tail bar is enhanced on an ash red smoky.  In reality the tail bar has remained unchanged while the clumped areas of the smoky have had the amount of course pigment increased.  In the case of the blue and brown smoky if gives the appearance of the entire bird being darkened when in reality it is mostly only the clumped areas that have been affected.  Since there is a color difference between course and smooth spread on ash red, the affects of smoky are seen more realistically seen as the clumped ash areas are darkened by the effects of smoky thus darkening the tail while leaving the ash bar unchanged.


Another side note is the similarity between spread blue dominant opal, spread blue recessive opal, spread blue reduced, spread blue rubella and spread blue milky.  All of these genotypes have spread and blue in common and they each have the effect of displaying a washed out tail bar, thus the similar phenotypes for the same reasons given above.


Garry I hope I was able to make that understandable.  It’s hard at times to explain something especially when I’m not all that versed on the technical end of how it happens chemically.


Ron Huntley



Good morning Mr. Huntley,


I hope all is well with you. I've been reading with great interest your information on the opal factor. I'm very new to this sport, so if I sound ignorant with regard to this subject, it's because I am! This past spring, I purchased a pair of Opal White Bar Birmingham Rollers with intentions of having young ones to fly this season (as yet they haven't produced-not sure why). Last night a friend of mine e-mailed me with info from a friend of his, saying that two opals should not be bred because of a high probability of genetic problems (poor eyesight, blindness) in their offspring. Being new to this sport, I had not heard this before and the person I got the pair from hadn't mentioned it. Is this a legitimate concern and do I need to breed with another color first to get back to the opal coloring with a later breeding of two recessive opal parents? Any information you can give me is greatly appreciated!



Dave Kramer

Holland, Michigan


Hi Dave


If you want to breed white bar opals the best combination is dominant opal to indigo with both being on a blue bar base.  What does that mean?  Well there are two completely different kinds of opal, dominant opal and recessive opal.  The first, dominant opal will displayed with only one factor (heterozygous) for dominant opal being present.  When this type of opal is pure (homozygous or two factors) it does not produce poor eyesight and blindness as your friend stated.  What it does do in its pure form is cause premature death in the egg and or nest.  Poor eyesight and blindness is what occurs when you breed almond to almond.


 The other form of opal is recessive opal.  It is a completely different genetic trait.  The two are not related in any way but do produce a similar opal look, thus the similarity in their names.  Recessive opal always requires two factors (homozygous) to show its opal color and there are no bad side effects with this type of opal.  However this opal does not produce a white bar and is not the form you’re looking for.  Dominant opal on the other hand may produce a white bar but white bars are not guaranteed.   What you need to insure the white bars is to combine dominant opal blue bar to an indigo blue bar.  This will give the combination you're looking for.


There are two schools of thought when it comes to breeding dominant opals.  One says never breed two dominant opals together due to the bad side effects.  The other says go for it.  OK so which is correct?


Well for starters only homozygous dominant opals are going to have the premature death problem and if they are already dead they are not what the parents are.  The parents are heterozygous dominant opals.  That means the each carry one gene for non dominant opal and one gene for dominant opal.  That being the case when two such birds are paired 25% of their young will be pure for non opal and be normal color.   50% of the young will heterozygous dominant opal like their parents and show the opal color and the remaining 25% will be pure and die due to the bad side effects.  End result is that of all the eggs laid only half will result in opal young. 


When you breed a heterozygous dominant opal to normal color 50 % of the young produced will be heterozygous for dominant opal and 50% pure for normal color.  The outcome for more opals then is exactly the same.  The difference between the two breeding programs is the total number of surviving young with the total non opals produced being less in the case of dominant to dominant.    


It does get complicated and it is difficult to explain in only one short email but I do hope that this helps.  If it were me I would continue to breed the two dominant opal white bare together knowing that 25% will die and the remainder would be perfectly fine with the majority being more dominant opals.  In addition I would look for some indigo blue bars and include them into the breeding program to upgrade the quality of the dominant opal white bars produced.


Ron Huntley



Hi Ron,


My son is starting to work on his science project this month.   I think his hypothesis is going to be something along the lines of whether a red check will dominate a blue bar, blue check, white splash, or grizzle. He is using these colors because we have birds that are mated with those colors and we have a couple of generations of baby birds to use for data.    He is using your web page but is having a little bit of a struggle with all the technicalities of the breeding etc.   Do you have any suggestions for a Jr. High pigeon genetics hypothesis?   I thought they could pose the question of the % predictability based on dominant vs. recessive traits in the parents.


  Thank you,






Your best bet and simplest way to show a form of dominance and sex linkage would be to use an ash-red hen and a blue cock.   From this matting, all the young cocks will be ash-red and all the hens will be blue assuming that the cock does not carry brown.   If he does then half of the hens will be blue and the other half brown.


Since brown is not very common in racing stock and since you have not produced brown in your loft, we can assume brown in not a possibility and that the blue cock is homozygous for blue.


The reason a color cross from a homozygous blue cock x hemizygous ash-red hen producing heterozygous ash-red cocks and hemizygous blue hens is due to the number of Z sex chromosomes that a cock carries (i.e. two) verses the number a hen has (i.e. one Z and one W).


Keep in mind that a single gene for color, be it brown, blue or ash-red is to found on the Z or sex chromosome, a bird with two Z's will become a cock and a bird with only one Z a hen.  


It follows then that if a bird receives one sex chromosome from each parent, for a hen to be a hen, she would need to inherit a W chromosome from her dam and a corresponding Z from her sire.   This also means the color gene found on the sire's Z would be the single color gene she would inherit.   In our blue sire's case, this would naturally be a blue gene passed along in his sperm since he is pure or homozygous for blue. 


Just as s young hen must receive a single sex chromosome from each parent (i.e. Z//W), a cock would have to receive a single Z//Z from each of his.   In our example, one would be from his blue sire and the other from his ash-red dam.


His color possibilities would be both blue and ash-red.  Since only one will display fully and since ash-red is dominant to blue our young, heterozygous cocks will be ash-red with some very small black flicks on their wing and tail feathers.  These black flicks will not be found on a hemizygous hen since she would be pure for her single base color gene.   As an ash red she may have some flicking but if you look closely you will see that they are colored reddish brown and not black.


Give your son two blue buttons, one red one, and a small piece of pencil led.  The blue buttons represent Z chromosomes with a blue color gene, the red another Z chromosome with an ash-red color gene.  The small piece of pencil led represents the W chromosome with no color gene.


Place two blue buttons on your left and the red button and pencil led on your right.   The two blue buttons represent your blue sire the others your ash-red dam.    Now let’s make some fertilized eggs.   Take one object from the dam on the right and one object from the sire on the left.    No matter how hard you try or how many time you repeat this exercise you will never be able to duplicate a homozygous blue cock with two blue buttons or a hemizygous ash-red hen with a single red button and a piece of pencil led.   You will always end up with a heterozygous blue/red cock combination and a hemizygous blue/pencil led hen. 


Good luck

Ron Huntley


Hi Ron,

Thank you so much!   Stephen printed this out and is excited to take it to school tomorrow.   He has to make a large display poster and your analogy with the buttons and lead will be an excellent way to demonstrate the genetics.  If it's ok, we will probably download some of the pictures of your birds from your web-site to include as well.




Hi Judy and Stephen


Yes you may use as many photos as you wish.


If you liked the analogy of the buttons then let's add a few more examples to demonstrate some more genetic proofs.


This time let's reverse the colors of the parent birds.  Let's use a homozygous or pure ash-red cock and a blue hen. 


Place two red buttons on your left to represent the cock with two Z chromosomes each with a single ash-red color gene.  Place a blue button and the pencil led on your right for a pure hemizygous blue hen.


Now make as many youngsters as you wish by again taking one object from each parent. In this analogy all of the young hens will be hemizygous or pure for ash-red. Like the first example, they will have inherited their red color from their sire.  However, all the young cocks will also be ash-red only they will be heterozygous for blue.  They will not be the color of their mother.  In other words, in this scenario all youngsters, regardless of sex, will be ash-red.  There will be no young blue pigeons.  Only the young hens will be the opposite color of their sire while the young males are heterozygous ash-red and blue just as they were in the first example.   This in combination with the first example demonstrates that the color genes are located on the Z chromosome and can be traced or predicted in the breeding program under cretin conditions.


Now let's do one where the sire is not homozygous or pure for a color but is heterozygous or split for blue and ash-red.  For the hen let's use a blue and then see what results.


On our left, we have a blue and red button.  On the right a blue and a piece of pencil led.  Repeating the same steps as before and we find that now we can produce both blue and red young hens. Each hen will be hemizygous and pure for her color.  In addition, all the young males are either a pure homozygous blue or an ash-red heterozygous for blue.  In other words, both reds and blues will be produced in either sex. 


The things constant in all three examples are as follows:


All hens will be pure for color and that color will always come from their sire.


When a young cock is homozygous or pure for color, that color will be the same as his mother's.  It may or may not be the same as his sire.  When it is not the same as the sire then the sire's color is recessive to the hen's color. 


All heterozygous ash-red/blue youngsters will be cocks and should show some black flicks on their ash-red wing and tail feathers.


That should get Stephen an good grade.  Just remember this.  These examples only work when it comes to genes located on the sex chromosomes.  They do not apply to genes on the remaining Autosomal chromosomes.  Go to my web site and down load the page on genetic symbols and use it to show which genes are sex linked and which are not. 


Ron Huntley 


Hi Ron,

Thank you again for more examples!!!!

Can you help explain this real-life example -


Stephen is trying to decipher the parents' genetics of two of our pairs of birds -


We have what they call a red-check cock - which I don't think is the same as an Ash-red - that is mated with a blue bar hen.  I don't know anything about their parents but they have had four sets of chicks as follows: (I use ?'s if I don't know their sex - I give a lot of young birds away and never really get a chance to know their sex)

1.  Red check hen, blue bar cock

2.  Silver hen, silver ? - killed by a hawk the first day out of the loft 3 ft. from my back door - horrible!

3.  Blue bar ?, Blue bar ?

4.  Blue check-white flight ?, Blue check ?


Then I have another pair who has raised five sets of babies - blue check hen with very slight red overlay, blue bar cock

1. Blue check cock, blue check cock - both look exactly like their dam?

2. Blue bar ?, blue check ?

3. Blue check cock, blue check hen - both look exactly like their dam?

4. Blue bar ?, blue check ?

5. Red check cock, blue check ?


How do we figure out what dominant vs. recessive genes these pairs are carrying?  Why did my first pair have silvers?  The first red check hen hatched went on to mate with a different red check cock and their first baby was also a silver.  Then in the second pair what did it take to get a red check cock out of those two birds? 




Hi Judy


You are making a very common mistake regarding your bird’s color and marking patterns.  The two are not related.  A red check is simply an ash-red with the marking pattern of checker.  Your silver which is more correctly termed a mealy is genetically also an ash-red but with the bar pattern instead of a checker.  In pigeons, there are only three true genetic colors.  These are brown, blue/black and ash-red.  Every pigeon will be one of these three basic colors.  There are no exceptions to this rule.  Albino and all other forms of white are due to other genes turning off the production of color or pigment.  However, the genes for these colors are still present in the bird’s genetic makeup. 


In addition, we have other genes that modify these three colors.  They are almond, qualmond, indigo, spread, dominant opal, recessive opal and recessive red just to name a few.  They change the appearance of the three basic colors.  In other words, you will find brown almonds, blue almonds and ash-red almonds; brown dominant opals, blue dominant opals and ash-red dominant opal etc or so on for each color modifier.


When we look at the pattern markings, we find that every pigeon will carry two genes for pattern.  These are not sex linked and do not follow the same rules that we used in our first three examples with the red and blue pigeons. 


The marking pattern genes in their order of dominance from least to most dominant are; barless, bar, light checker, checker, dark checker and t-pattern or velvet.  Like the modifiers, we then have brown checkers, blue checkers and ash-red checkers.  It follows then that we also have almond barless, almond bars, almond checkers and so on. 


As you can see a pigeon is a composite of many different genes that make up their overall appearance.  Color and or pattern are always present.  The other modifiers may or may not be present in the birds overall gene pool.  What you see as a phenotype is the end result.  When you don’t see any evidence for almond it simply means that the non-almond gene is present.  Since there is neither a non-color gene nor a non-pattern gene, the genes for these two factors are always present.  It is only when they are being masked by some other gene such as spread or recessive red that they become non-visible or hidden from our view.


You can expand your exercise by simply adding something to represent each pattern and assigning two for each bird.  They operate separately from the sex chromosomes and their colors.


Ron Huntley



To: Ron Huntley


I was just reviewing your web site again... I learn something every time I go through it.  Tonight's lesson was the difference between reduced blue and indigo.


I recently acquired a reduced blue bar and it looked like an indigo, but different because it was lighter.    The breeder called it a dilute, but I know it's not a dilute.     It looks just like your reduced blue bar picture.


Are these rare?   What do you mate with one to get more?   Anyway ... I'm extremely fascinated with the colors now that I'm not racing.    I want to perpetuate the Dilutes and Almonds.   How much do you sell birds for?     I don't often buy birds but would love to acquire some breeding stock for dilutes and some of the rare colors.    So I can learn how to breed for colors and experiment.     I may not be able to afford it, but let me know if you ever reduce your stock.





Hi Mark

I'm very pleased you like my site.  Stay tuned and as I get more time I will be adding more information.     Finding the time is the big factor.    

As for your question of Reduced being rare in homing pigeons, I would have to say “Yes”.     In fact, it is very rare.     One would almost have to introduce it to their loft for it to be found.     Indigo and Recessive Opal are also considered as rare colors but they both are some what common. In homers.     However they usually go unnoticed for different reasons.   Both have been found in homers for as long as modern day homers have been around (200 + years).   Reduced, on the other hand is rather new with its origins being from flying rollers.

Indigo is a simple dominant so it only takes one factor or gene to express itself.     To the untrained eye it can go un-noticed as the appearance of ash-red and indigo look very similar.     It is found in many homer lofts as blue with rusty red colored bars and checks.     On ash-red, indigo blends in so completely that only the darker color around the head is different.    

Recessive Opal and Reduced are both recessive and must be inherited from both parents to be displayed.     However, Reduced is sex linked so a cock bird that carries the reduced gene can throw a reduced hen.     He only has to carry the gene and does not need to show it to be a carrier.   A hen that carries Reduced is always a Reduced and as such she will show it.

The same is not true for Recessive Opal.   This gene is not sex linked.     For two birds to throw a recessive opal regardless of its sex, both parents would have to be carriers of the gene.     They need not show the gene but must both be carriers to pass it on to their recessive opal offspring.

OK let’s state that another way.  Two normal colored birds may produce a reduced.  When this happens it is the cock who is the carrier and the off spring is always a hen due to the sex linkage involved with reduced.   When two normal colored birds produce a recessive opal the offspring can be of either sex and both parents will always be carriers.

OK now back to your bird.

Question: is it a cock or a hen?

What colors are its parents?

If it is a hen, it could be either recessive opal or reduced.

If it is a cock then it must be recessive opal as reduced has been ruled out due to sex linkage.

If either of the parents are colored, like your bird, then we have a different set of rules to follow.

I would be more inclined to say that your bird may be recessive opal bar and not reduced. Can you provide me with some information on the parents or send a photo to aid in their identification?

Ronald R. Huntley


Hi Tim

I assume you’re asking how to go about combining recessive red with smoky and spread to get a good dark recessive red.

Let’s start with your slate cock. It MUST be one that shows it's a true smoky. A simple check is to look at the bird’s tail. The two outer tail feathers normally have a whitish strip (albescent) on the outer edge. If these are missing, it’s a Smoky. If the albescent strips are there, get another bird because that one is not pure for smoky.

Now mate your smoky cock to a recessive red hen that shows some evidence of a tail bar. All of the young (F1s) will be normal looking blue pigeons. Since these will not be pure for recessive red or smoky they will be their normal color and have an albescent strip. However, since their sire was pure for smoky and their dam pure for recessive red, they will all be carriers for both genes. Next mate the F1s to each other to produce F2s.     12% of these F2s will be recessive red smokes and be much improved in their color richness.

At the same time take a solid black or spread pigeon of any sex and mate it to another recessive red. None of their F1s will be recessive reds but some will be solid black like their parent. Discard the normal colors and keep all the blacks. It is only the black F1s that you can use in your next step to produce recessive red spread F2s. This is due to the fact that spread need not be pure to show itself. If all of your F1s turn out black it means the original black was pure spread. If only some were black then it was not pure but did carry the gene and that was all that you needed. These F2 will also be much improved in their tail color area.

(NOTE: should your produce any spread ash birds treat them in the same way that you do blacks. Remember spread blue is black and spread ash-red is spread ash. What you’re working with is the spread effect and not the base color of blue or ash-red.)

Ok now take the F2s from each line and mate together. You will continue to get spread recessive reds but the effects of smoky will not be seen in the F1s.     Take these new F1 spread recessive reds and put them back together to produce your F2s.     This second group of F2s should be pure for all three genes and you will have nice deep colored, evenly spread, recessive red smokies and when you do please let me know.



I have question on the linkage percentage of recessive opal with pattern gene. What is the percentage of the cross over? Are they 100%? I mean based on your experience, are all the young with the same pattern as the donator carrying recessive opal? i.e. If the donator is recessive opal bar, do all the bar young carry recessive opal or just by 50% chance? How about if the donator is heterozygous checker with heterozygous bar, would all bar and checker young carry recessive opal or just the checker young carry it?

Aylwin Wong



Hi Aylwin


I’m not sure what the percentage for crossover for Recessive Opal and pattern is but it’s very small.  Odds are you could breed for it all your life and not have it but it can happen and has for barless, bar, checker and t-check.   Of these checker is the most common pattern linked to rec. opal.   The other three are somewhat rare.  I have barless, bar and checker in my loft.  My t-check is lost from my breeding stock but may be present in some heterozygous birds unknown to me.


It works like this.  The gene for rec. opal is located on the same chromosome as both pattern and spread.  The pattern gene is located very close to the opal gene while the spread gene seems to be some distance away.  In the process of producing sperm and or eggs, the new chromosome is a mixture of the two carried by that donor parent, some from each chromosome string taken at random as chunks.    Since pattern and opal are very close they are normally passed along as a part of the same chunk or string of genetic material. 


That being the case, it makes it possible to track the opal gene when in the heterozygous state but only when the other pattern gene is recessive to the linked one.  In other words, should I want to move recessive opal from Homers to Saints, I would use the checker linked opal from of opal check homer and breed it to a bar or a barless Saint.  All the F-1s would of course be heterozygous checker / bar and heterozygous opal. 


Now remember we want to move this recessive gene from one breed to the other so we would breed our F-1s back to Saints to improve the Saint appearance.  If we continued to use bar or barless Saints to do this then only some of the F-2’s would be heterozygous for opal and checker.  Some would be pure for bar and of these none would be heterozygous for opal since it was linked to the checker pattern.  The F-3’s and F-4’s each matted back to pure Saints of the barless or bar patterns would continue to produce both pure bar stock and heterozygous checker and opal.  Once we got to the point where we had basically pure Saints again then all that we need to do to produce opal would be to mate the checkers together and 25% would be pure for both checker and recessive opal. 


We would have moved the gene very quickly between the breeds without having to double back to be sure the opal was still there.  This only works when the two genes are linked and are matted with a more recessive one to aid in the tracking process.


I hope this helped and please stay in touch.


Ron Huntley





Hi Ron
I have a question for you if you don't mind? I have several good Blacks Hens and Cocks. I have several Yellows all checks both Hens and Cocks. I have one Solid Yellow Cock one or two white feathers in one wing. What would be the best way to get some Duns?

Thanks Don


Hi Don

You pose a good question. Let me start by explaining what makes dun and yellow. You probably already know that it is the dilute gene in combination with spread black that makes dun. Spread black is the combination of blue and spread. Dun is a spread blue (black) dilute.

When in combination with ash-red, dilute makes yellow or cream. When in combination with recessive red it produces solid yellows and these birds often have some white feathers.

So in your case you have two options. You can cross your solid yellow (recessive red dilute) with a black hen and hope for a dun hen or you can use a yellow check (ash-red dilute) cock.

The problem is that the dilute gene is on the same chromosome as the basic color gene be it a brown, blue/black or ash-red. It will always be one of these three possibilities. There are no exceptions even if the bird is an albino.

When one of these sex chromosomes is passed along the color and the dilute factor normally go as a set. Crossovers however do occur. It might happen on the first cross, it may be 50 or 100 birds later or it may never happen. A crystal ball would sure help if we had one.

Your yellow check or dilute ash-reds would require a crossover to produce a dun. However since recessive red is not a base color but a modifier, that is masking a base color, there is a good chance that your dilute recessive red could carry blue and dilute on one of his two sex chromosomes. If he does, and he is mated to a black hen, then 25% of the offspring will be dun or dilute blue/black and they will all be hens. If both of his sex chromosomes are blue/black with dilute then all of his daughters will be dilute blue/black. In short the color of his offspring will tell you what he is under his recessive red mask. One thing is certain, he is pure for dilute for him to show yellow.

I would start with the recessive red dilute for the above reasons.

I hope that helps.

 Ron Huntley


Hi Ron

I found a good dun hen from some long distance birds. What would be the best to put this hen with to reproduce more Duns?  Black, R-Yellow, or a R-Red ??  I know I could put her on her son but I am not sure that she is that good. 

Ron what effect does Indigo have on R-Yellows and R-Reds or even Duns.

Thanks    Don


Hi Don


By Dun I assume you are speaking of a dilute blue spread and not simply a dilute blue of any pattern.


To produce more of the same you need to breed here to a black and then take one of her sons and put her back to him.  This will give you some of each color (dun & black) in either sex.   All of her sons will be able to produce daughters that are also dun.  


In other words, all her daughters from the first cross will not carry the dilute gene, only her sons will.  So use her on one of her sons and off you go.   Remember her son is 50% from the sire so choose the best you can find.  It doesn’t have to be black, as a blue will also do.  However you want to select a black son to put back to her.  Since a dun is really a dilute black, she should give you some black youngsters regardless of the blue cocks pattern.


Recessive reds will mask the dun and make a recessive yellow.


Indigo will darken or deepen the color of both recessive reds and recessive yellows.   On a dun it will produce a light colored andalusian.


Ron Huntley



My name is Peter  and I live in Woodside, SOUTH AUSTRALIA.  I am attempting to breed a team of white Show Racers (here we call them Showpen Homers)  I currently have about 10.  In order to improve the 'type' I need to cross them with better specimens (these being coloured birds mostly Blue and Red).   These do not carry any white in their pedigree.  I understand that white is not really a colour, but more a lack of colour.  I also understand that it is difficult to predict the outcome.


What I would like to know is; 

As you can tell, I don't know a lot about genetics but I feel that white is probably the hardest thing to reproduce with certainty.

I would appreciate any advice you could give me as it is a project I am determined to achieve success eventually.


Regards,   Peter.


Hi Peter


1)      If a white is crossed with a Blue will the young 'carry white' even if they don’t show any?

 Answer:           Yes and No depending on what is causing the white bird to be white.  If all of your Show Racers are pure white with no color showing and they have bull eyes or eyes that are very dark without color then chances are they are recessive whites.  Recessive whites follow the same rules for breeding that recessive reds do.  When you breed one to a normal colored bird all young will be normal color.  There may or may not be some white present but if there is, it is not due to the recessive white but is due to other genes that produce pied and splash.


2)         If these youngsters showed no white, and were mated together, would they produce white?

Answer:    When you breed two birds that each carry one gene for recessive white 25% of the offspring will be normal color and they will not carry the recessive white gene, 50% will be normal color but will also carry one gene for recessive white and 25% will be pure for recessive white and be pure white.


3)         Is it possible to carry white (complete white, not pied)?   Answer:     Yes.


4)        I have been told that it must have a (complete white parent, not a part white (pied) in order to carry white and thus         produce complete white offspring?    Answer:    Again Yes and No depending on what is making the bird all white.  Yes for recessive white, no for other types of white.


5)         Is there any merit in this idea or would simply a part white parent (pied) produce young with the same potential to reproduce complete white?   Answer:   Your best bet (if you want to consistently have all pure whites) is to use recessive white as your white source.    A pied can be in the mix but only as an addition to the recessive white genes, not as a substitute.


6)      Finally what would be the best way to go in order to improve the type of the whites (by using Blue) and still reproduce complete white in a couple of generations?.   Answer:    Yes.


Good luck with your project mate.


Ron Huntley





We recently got some brown bars from a colored breeder. He said he got the brown bars from mating a brown barless and a red check, is that what you do? Will their babies be brown or brown barless and red checks? Thanks for your help.

Kristina K


Hi Kristina:  


Well to answer your question it will take a little more understanding of how genetics works.  There are only three true base colors in pigeons.  They are brown, blue/black and ash-red.  Everything else is one of these being modified is some way or another.  The gene for base color located on the Z chromosome (sex chromosome) of which a cock has two and a hen only one Z and one W chromosome.  Therefore, a cock will have two possibilities for color while a hen is limited to only one.  The W chromosome carries no genes that we know of.


Chromosomes that are not sex linked are autosome chromosomes.  Every pigeon, regardless of its sex will carry 40 some pairs of autosome chromosomes.  Each pair is different and each pair contains a completely different combination of genes.  The genes for pattern are to be found on one of these chromosome pairs.  Therefore, every pigeon will have two genes for pattern possibilities, be it barless, bar, light checker, dark checker and t-pattern checker.   When the possibilities are different as in one being barless and the other checkered then the checker, which is more dominant of the two is displayed.   The order of dominance is barless through t-pattern with t-pattern being the most dominant.


When the breeder said he took a brown barless and mated it to an ash-red checker what he was doing was mating a hen (one brown gene and two barless genes) to an ash-red checker cock (in this case one gene for ash-red//one gene for brown and one gene for checker//one gene for bar).   Had it been any other combination he would not have been able to produce brown bar youngsters of both sexes.


The offspring could have come in a number of combinations but for them to produce brown bars it would mean a single brown gene was passed by the cock in both cases and the hen passed her single brown gene one time and her w chromosome without any color genes the second time.  The young cock would be from the brown//brown and the hen would be brown//W.  


For pattern the cock passed its bar pattern gene and the hen her barless.  Both young would be a combination of barless and bar but show as bars.  Therefore, you could get barless and bars form future generations but you will never get any other color but brown from brown birds mated together, regardless of what color their parents were.  Each parent can only pass along one possibility and if it’s brown in both parents then brown is all that the young will have for future generations.


Take some time and read my chapters on basic genetics found on my web site.  It will help to explain it better.


Ron Huntley


Hey Ron,

I have a question for you. The dilute blue bars (silver or dun), do they have black

bars (pigments)?


How can you tell them apart from brown bars?




Hi again Kristian


As you know, a dilute blue is genetically black pigment diluted down to dun or a dull gunmetal color.  The wing shield takes on a light tan look and the bar or pattern areas become the gunmetal off brown color.  Brown on the other hand is brown pigment.  The tail bar and pattern marking are dark brown with the wing shield area a very light tan color.  The two phenotypes do look very similar.  Some dilutes blues being browner in appearance than others are.  All dilutes start life with no feather down or naked skin.  Dilute brown becomes khaki.


If you place a dilute blue bar beside a brown bar you will see that the brown is softer and a more true brown in color.  The dilute blue may vary some but is darker in shade towards black, not much darker but noticeable when side-by-side. 



Another way is to look for sun fading of the brown feathers.  The suns rays affect Brown much more than any other color.  If fads them out to a cream color on the wing tips and pattern marking which are exposed to the sun’s rays.   


sun faded brown spread                                            brown spread after a molt


A third way is to look at the eyes.  A false pearl is genetically a yellow eye modified by the brown pigment.  Brown will have either a false pearl (modified yellow) or a true pearl eye.  A dilute blue will have yellow or true pearl but never a false pearl. 



Ron Huntley 


Ron: a question for you. I mated a spread ash cock to a light grizzle hen and their youngsters are a regular BC and a white with dark eyes. I was expecting grizzles or something unusual. What do you think happened???




Hi Richard


Well let’s see what you had to start with and then look at what you got.


Spread ash cock = ash-red and ?  (sex linked colors since a cock always carries two sex chromosomes.)  Question does he have any black flicks?   If so then he is both ash-red and blue which is the same as black.    Since he is spread, we don’t know what his two pattern possibilities are because Spread has hidden them under that solid coat of ash.


Light grizzle hen.  I have to assume that you mean a blue bar heterozygous grizzle.  That means she is hemizygous blue; heterozygous barless // bar or homozygous bar//bar and heterozygous grizzle // non grizzle.


Since this pair produced a blue check, we can now state that one of the hidden patterns of the cock is checker.  We know it came from him, since the hen did not carry it.  (Had she been a checker grizzle she would be described as a dark grizzle)


Also, since this ash-red cock produced a blue youngster from a blue mate we can state that he is heterozygous ash-red and blue so the black flecks should be present.   If they are not then his parental status should be in question.   


Conversely, a homozygous ash-red cock to a hemizygous blue hen will always produce heterozygous ash-red // blue cocks and hemizygous ash-red hens. 


So the mystery of the blue check (cock or hen) is solved.  It simply means the hen did not pass along her one and only grizzle gene and the cock did not pass along his spread gene.


There are many ways to make a solid white.   One way is recessive white.   A recessive white will have dark eyes just as a pied bald white will.   The white of a Grizzle can camouflage the white of pied white since white is white.   However, pied white on its own will not normally produce a pure white bird.  Recessive white however does result in a pure white phenotype.   Recessive white, just like recessive red can lie hidden in the genetic makeup of both parents and not show any outward signs of the gene.  However, should the youngster (male or female) receive one recessive white factor from each parent then it becomes homozygous for the recessive gene and will display it.   If this is the cause of your white youngster then it means both of your birds are carriers of the recessive white gene.  The true base color, pattern markings, grizzle and spread would all be masked by the white shown. 


Another possibility is that the white is a combination of spread ash, grizzle and pied white (in this case the young bird would be a hen since the sire is ash-red).  Both the effects of spread ash and  pied white could mask the red grizzle flicks around the head and the pied white would cause the eyes to become bark.   Such a bird would carry both grizzle and ash-red and not show either.   It would appear as a solid white.  Mate the bird to a blue bar cock and see what happens.   You should get more spread ash and ash-red grizzles.  No blues and no blacks since this is a sex linked matting.


I hope this helps.


Ronald Huntley


I`m from Germany, and your web site is very interesting for me. I want to ask you, if it can be, that from a copulation Qualmond-brown-spread (cock) x brown-bar (female) a blue-bar-qualmond (female) can born?  Please excuse my bad English.


Rainer Krebs


Guten Tag Herr.Krebs


Thank you for visiting my web site.  I am pleased you enjoyed it.  Your photos are very nice and I would like to use some if possible.  However, I can only do so if you are the person who took the photos.  Did you take them and may I use them?


You asked if a Qualmond brown spread cock x a brown bar hen could produce a blue qualmond hen.  The answer is both Yes and No. 


“Yes” if the cock is heterozygous for both blue and brown.

“No” if the cock is pure for brown.


The genes for either almond or qualmond are on the sex chromosome just as the gene for the basic color is.  As a result, the almond or qualmond gene almost turns off the color gene found on that chromosome.  Good color almonds and or qualmonds are not pure, they only carry one gene for the almond or qualmond effect.  Therefore, the only color gene not being completely affected by the almond or qualmond gene is the one found on the other sex chromosome.


What does all that mean?  Well if the cock is a blue – almond // brown wild type then the almond gene will almost turn off the blue pigment on that chromosome and the brown color found on the other chromosome becomes the color of the bird’s flicking even though the bird’s blue color gene is the more dominant.   This means that a blue // brown qualmond will look more brown than blue.  The same is true if the bird is ash red // blue in which case it will look blue and not ash-red.  A blue almond // blue will look more bluish only because one of its two wild type blue genes has been almost turned off.


Should the bird be pure for almond or qualmond then both color genes are almost turned off and the bird appears as near white.  As the bird ages the turn off begins to weaken and the bird becomes darker with age.


My guess is that your brown qualmond is actually a blue qualmond // brown which would look whitish with more brown flicks than black ones.


Where in Germany do you live?  I was stationed there in the Air Force at Hahn AFB 1967 - 1969 and again at Frankfurt from 1974 - 1979.


Hello Ron,

I have placed your site on my favorites list. Ever consider writing a book ?


I would like to send you a picture of a bird I raised from a mealy cock, and a ash-red velvet hen. Grand parents all around were either ash-red velvet, mealy, ash-red check. There is a good amount of inbreeding going on here. The great grand dam on the hen's side is listed as a dark check hen.


The picture of the hen I want to send separately through my Kodak share picture system looks almost black. She also came with a frill, like her sire. No other cock in the loft has a frill?


How could this happen?  I actually like the result.




Hi Mr. Smith


Thanks for visiting my site.  Yes, I have thought of doing a book and when I retire in three years, I will do so.  Not sure, who would want to read it.


Please send me a pedigree that includes the bird’s color and marking patterns.   I will see if its possible for this pair to produce the black velvet t-check. 


What you are looking at is three different things.  Color, which is sex linked, along with pattern and frill which are not.   Based on the info in your post the color blue (black) for a hen would have to be from her sire’s side.   The pattern could be from either side of the pair and the frill would have to be present or hidden on both sides.  Since you do some inbreeding, the frill should come as no surprise.  Inbreeding will bring recessive traits such as frill back together in a pure state.  When that happens, the frill expression is again displayed. 


Ron Huntley



I want to create some pure white, pearl-eyed birds (obviously avoiding the use of recessive white) and was hoping that you could give me a bit of guidance regarding what colors, patterns and modifiers I would be best off using in order to achieve this?   My current understanding is that the grizzle gene plays a large part in eliminating the majority of the color... however I have grizzle
in my Budapest’s and they still have a small amount of dark "flecking" around the head and neck area, as well as a little in the flights and tail. How do I eliminate this and generate pure white birds?




Hi Fred


I’m not sure that grizzle on its own will produce a pure white bird with colored eyes, at least not in my loft.  However, if you add in the ash-red and the spread factor you should be able to eliminate the remainder of any ash-red still showing.  I say this, because what you are trying to do, is turn off the pigment production in the bird.  Therefore, the question becomes how we do that.


Ash-red turns off the production of pigment at the feathers extremities.  Grizzle does just the opposite, i.e. it stops formation of pigment in the center of the feather.  Here is a photo that demonstrates this.

However, the combination of the two does not always result in all pigment being turned off.   In the case of grizzle the darker the pattern (checker and t-check) the more pigment color shows.  Homozygous grizzle reduces this effect but not completely.  Therefore, to get where you want to be you must begin the process with a barless or a bar pattern, pure for ash-red, homozygous for grizzle and at least one factor for spread.  


Why the spread gene?  To begin with, we must look at the different ways pigment on our pigeons is displayed.  We have Course Spread and Smooth Spread.  Smooth Spread is pigment evenly dispersed to produce what we find on the tail bar and wing tips.    Course Spread is similar in even distribution and is found on the pattern markings.  Pigment found on the remainder of the body is clumped together and gives a much lighter color effect.    


The gene for Spread is a modifier to these three normal pigment distributions. The Spread gene causes pigment on a pigeon’s body feathers to be dispersed evenly in the same fashion as the pigment displayed on the Smooth Spread Areas of the tail bar and wing tips.  On a blue, both Smooth Spread and Course Spread are displayed as solid black, on a brown they are both dark brown.  Since the Spread gene causes the clumped pigment areas to become evenly distributed like the wing tips and tail bar we end up with a self colored bird.  Therefore, a spread blue or a spread brown becomes a self-solid colored bird assuming nothing else has turned the pigment off to cause white.


From the above we would assume that a spread ash would also be a solid colored bird but in reality, it is not.  Why? 


On Ash-red the Course and Smooth Spread areas are displayed in the same way as they are on a blue or a brown.  However, the color effect is different.  Course Spread (pattern areas) is seen as red while Smooth Spread (wing tips and tail bar) is seen as an ash color thus the name Ash-red.  The clumped pigment areas continue to be seen as a light color, in this case ash.  Since it is the Course Spread areas of Ash-red (wing bars and checker patterns) where the red pigment is displayed, the effects of Spread-Ash is less effected.  Both Spread-Ash bar and barless pattern birds are seen as a self colored Ash and are often called a Barless Ash.  When you add homozygous Grizzle to this Spread-Ash mix the Grizzle will eliminate the remaining ash and red effects of the bar and or barless patterns and will give you the pure white bird desired.    A checked patterned Spread-Ash will continue to display the greater amounts of red pigment in the wing shield areas and is often called a Strawberry.   This phenotype will not produce a pure white bird like a barless or bared pattern, spread ash, homozygous grizzle genotype will.


In other words, it becomes a building block process in reverse, to remove the formation of pigment.  If you want to end up with white eyes, which is a recessive eye trate, then you had better begin the process with only white eyed birds.


Ron Huntley


Steve Souza writes
My Ash Spreads tend to not show their "red"... The ones het for blue show flecking (increasing with age of course as this one shows), and the ones homo (or hemi) Ash are like this without the flecks... no real hint of the "red", just the "ash" color.


Good to see our old friend again.   He was a very good bird.    If you can check his breeding record you should find he was a bar pattern under his spread coat.   Had he been a checker pattern there would have been much more course spread (red) pattern to spread around along with the smooth spread (ash) color.   This is the difference. 

The “Spread” gene is causing the pigment to be evenly distributed accost the bird.   Do not confuse this term “Spread” as used in the name for the gene “Spread” with the names of the two different types of pigment distribution i.e. “Smooth Spread” and “Course Spread” which are both a basic part of the pattern series.   Smooth Spread is found in the pattern markings of the tail end bar, wing tips and around the birds head and crop area.    Course Spread is what makes the pattern markings of the wing bars and or various wing checker patterns.

OK how does it work?   On an Ash red the more “Course Spread” in the original pattern the more red you will see.   Course spread here produces red while Smooth spread produces ash.   On a brown both Course and Smooth spread areas are seen as brown.   Same is true for the wild type color blue where both spread types are seen as black.  Add the effects of the “Spread gene” which evenly distributes all pigment and you will get a solid colored bird.    A spread brown becomes a solid brown.    A spread blue becomes a solid black. Under certain light conditions you can clearly see that the two spread pigment types (Smooth and Course) are different as one can be distinguished one from the other even though they are displayed as a solid color on a Spread modified brown or black pigeon.   They are STILL THERE and have not been replaced by something else.  What’s different is only the manner in which their pigments and the pigment of the adjacent non-spread areas are now being distributed.   

Non-spread areas have their pigment clumped together and do not reflect light in the same way as the two spread types do.    Non-spread areas are the light brown, light blue or light ash color of the bird’s body and tail.   The effects of the “Spread” gene causes all three area types i.e non-spread, course spread and smooth spread to be evenly distributed in the same fashion as the smooth spread area.   Remember, the pattern is still there.   One type was not replace with the other, it (spread) only changed the way its pigment is being distributed.   The end result for both brown and blue is a solid colored bird.    Ash red is different in that the color of smooth spread and is ash while the color of course is red.     When you evenly distribute the pigment of a barless or a bar pattern ash red you will still see mainly ash as there is little red (Course spread) to be distributed.  

Evenly distribute the course spread pigment color of a checker or t-pattern and “Wa-La” less ash color and much more course spread red is now seen.  This is one way to make what we call a Strawberry color.

Ever ask yourself why a black grizzle homozygous for both is solid black with only a small amount of white Grizzle seen on its head; while an ash red grizzle homozygous for both is some times pure white while other times more Strawberry red like?   Well the answer is in the basic pattern under the spread gene and the way both genes i.e Spread and Grizzle affects that particular pattern.   The more course spread the more red.

I hope that helps to clear up your question.   It does get a bit confusing with all that spread terminology and all.  <GRIN>

Now back to your bird Steve.   In addition to him being a spread ash, he is also heterozygous for both blue and ash red.   This can be seen by the black flicks.   In addition   the tic eye and frosty ash crop indicates he is a dirty.   Dirty tends to lighten the non-spraed areas of ash red which is just the opposite of its effect on brown and blue.   Each and every gene will either have an effect or be blocked by one of the another's present.    The total outcome is what determines the phenotype.  Thus a spread ash red bar is different than a spread ash red checker.

Ron Huntley




I have a question about breeding. If I mate a blue bar to a black, or a blue check to a black or a red check to a black, what colors can I expect the babies to come out? Also what about a red check mated to a pure white?   Thanks for your time!


   Yours in the sport

    Randy Larson



Hi Randy


Well that is more than just a simple question but I will see what I can do.  First when you speak of black are you in reference to a true black or a very dark velvet that looks black?  A true black is any pattern of blue that is modified by the gene called spread.  This gene takes the color of the tail bar and spreads it over the entire body.  Its really a matter of how the pigment is dispersed on the feather but the description of spreading the color of the tail bar is the end result.  Which type of black are you in reference to?   If you aren't sure then look at the tail.  If it is solid black then its a true black.  If its a blue tail with black end bar then its not.


OK now that we have an understanding of what true black or spread is, lets get started. 

Blue bar to a black: 


First remember every black (spread) has two pattern genes under its black mask.  You will or should get 50% black if the black is heterozygous (one factor) for spread.  The remaining 50% will be bars or checks or dark checks depending on what is under the black mask.  If all blues are bar then it means that the black is a bar/bar or bar/barless under the black.  If some are bar and some are check the black is both bar and check.  If all are check then the black is check/check but the young will be bar/check. Since one of the pair is also a bar pattern.


If the black is homozygous (two factors or pure) for spread then 100 % will be black but only heterozygous for it. Both hetero and homo blacks will look the same. The patterns under the black will remain a mystery until you mate the offspring back to another blue bar.


Blue check to a black:  Same as above.


When you cross different colors then the sex of the bird also comes into play.  First there are only three basic colors.  Brown, Blue/Black and Ash-red.  Since these color genes come on the sex or Z chromosome and a cock bird comes with two Z chromosomes while a hen only one; it follows, that a hen will only have one color gene while a cock will carry two.  There are many other genes that modify true color so don't let them confuse the issue here.    You have to keep that in mind as we go along.   Colors like yellow, recessive red, almond etc are all modifiers just as spread is and will also enter into the equation if present.   Example being ash-yellow which is simply Ash-red modified by Dilute making it Yellow.   The bird remains an Ash-red for the purposes being discussed here.   Ok I hope you are still with me.   Good!   Back to the question.  


A Red check matted to a Black. :  For the moment lets forget the check pattern and simply refer to it as Ash-red.


If the cock is Ash-red//Ash-red and the hen is true black you will get 50% Ash-reds and 50% spread ash which is a self colored ash or light cream colored bird.   Some flyers call this a barless mealy.    However the correct term is Spread Ash.


If the cock is Ash-red//Blue (normally be Ash-red with black flicks) and the hen is a true Black you will get 25% Ash-red, 25% Blue, 25% Black (blue spread) and 25% Spread Ash.


If the cock is Ash-red//Ash-red and the hen is again a true black you will get 100% Spread Ash birds.


If the cock is Ash-red//Blue and the hen is still a true black you will get 50% Spread Ash birds, 25% spread black and 25% blue.  


If the cock is a true Black (hetero for spread) or spread Blue//Blue  and the hen an Ash-red you will get 12.5% Ash-reds, 12.5% Spread Ash, 50% Blue and 25% Spread Black.   (All the Ash-reds and Spread Ash birds will be cocks while all the Blues and Blacks will be hens)


If the cock is a true Black (homo for spread) or Black//Black   and the hen Ash-red you will get 50% Spread Ash and 50% Spread Black.   (All the Spread Ash birds will be cocks.  All the Blacks will be hens)


As to the question of red to white let me say this.   White is not a color.   It is the result of modifiers and can be produced in several different ways.   So, to answer your question it would depend on what type of white you were dealing with.   In most cases you would most likely get red and red splash birds.  You could also get red grizzle.   There are other possibilities but it is just too complicated to answer here.


Your best bet would be to check out some genetic sites and read up on all this stuff.  It really can be very interesting and fun to do.  

I hope this has helped.   I also hope it has sparked a desire for more.   Please go to my web site and review the material there.   Then go to both Frank Mosca’s and Tom Barnhart's web sites.   They are very both helpful in explaining these subjects.


Ronald R. Huntley

Hi Ron

Now I have a new bird just got this weekend its a brown bar Cock bird that has barless as its 2nd pattern Now I’m going to mate the bird to a blue hen and I know I will get brown hens and blue cocks with the cocks having brown as the 2nd color but how will the barless go 50/50 or will the hens just be 50/50 or all the cocks CAN YOU HELP ME


Thanks Tim


Hi Tim

Well if the brown bar cock is het for bar and barless and is matted to a blue bar hen then the following possibilities exist.

Half of the daughters will be brown bar / / barless or brown bar // bar and the other half will be blue bar // barless or blue bar // bar.

Half of the sons will be blue // brown.  Of these some will be bar // bar and some will be barless // bar.


The other half of the sons will be pure blue // blue and like the first group they will be bar // bar and some will be barless // bar.


Color is sex linked but pattern is not.  Every pigeon will carry two genes for pattern.  They may be the same pattern or they may not be the same pattern.  All cocks will carry two genes for color and all hens only one.


There is no way to know which of the youngsters you produce will carry the barless gene.  However 25% of the overall number regardless of sex will. 





Thanks Ron


If the Color is Sex linked how do half the hens become blue?


Hi Tim


The answer to your question is due to the fact that the color genes for brown, blue/black and ash-red are found on the sex (Z) chromosome.   Every cock will have two Z chromosomes while a hen has a single Z and a single W chromosome.   As far as we know, no genes exist on the W chromosome.


When a sperm is produced in the cock only one of his two possibilities will be passed along to the egg.   Since your cock (Z//Z) is split for blue and brown, 50% of his sperm will come from the Z with the brown gene and 50% from the other Z with the blue/black.


Since a hen only has one Z chromosome and its opposite in the chromosome pair is a W, it follows that she will only have one gene for color and it will be the one found on her single Z sex chromosome.   When she produces an egg, the egg will contain one of these two possibilities, i.e. a single Z with color or a single W without color.


Get two dimes, a penny and a small piece of grain and let's fertilize some egg possibilities.   Set one of the dims and the small piece of grain in front of you. These represent your hen's (Z-blue) // (W-colorless) sex chromosomes. Take the other dim (Z -blue) and the penny (Z- brown) and place them off to your right.   This represents your cock's sex chromosome pair.


  Now lets make some youngsters.   Each youngster will have one sex chromosome from each parent.   Start by taking a Z from the cock and the small piece of grain or W from the hen.  You now have a new young hen. Look at her chromosome makeup.   What color is she going to be?   If it is the dime or blue Z then she will be blue.   If was the penny or brown Z then she will be brown.


Do the same again only take one Z from the cock and one Z from the hen. You now have two Zs or a young cock.  If it is composed of a dime and a penny then he will be split for blue and brown just as his father is.  If it is composed of two dimes then he is pure for blue.  You will never be able to get two pennies for a pure brown cock from this pair since there is only one brown possibility to select from.  Therefore, all of the young cocks produced by this pair will be either heterozygous brown//blue or homozygous pure for blue//blue.


No matter how hard you try there will only be four sex chromosome pair possibilities, two for each sex.  Of these four, only one will give you a brown color and it will be a hen.  Her color is always one of the two possibilities coming from her sire.


Pattern genes and most other modifying genes are NOT located on the sex or Z chromosome.  They are found on one of the other 39-autosome chromosome pairs.  Every pigeon regardless of sex will have two genes for patterns. Of the two genes present only the most dominant will show.


Please take some time and read the chapters I have written on basic genetics.  It will answer all of these types of questions.

Ron Huntley


Hi Ron,

I have these two hen that I call chocolate or brown I would like you to look at them and see what you think, I really like your web page. These only come in hens and are all pearl eyes and skip a generation.


Walt McKeen

Yes Walt those are brown pigeons. One a brown bar, the other a brown t-check. Both look to be very nice birds. Mate them to a son of the other and you will produce youngsters of which 50% will be brown in both sexes. This is how you get brown cocks. You mate a cock that carries brown to a hen that is a brown. Any sons produced by a brown hen will be a carrier of the brown gene.

May I use them on my web site?

Ron Huntley

Hi Ron,

I am new to the pigeon sport.   I am racing in my second year and have a lot to learn.    I have been reading all I can.    One seemingly obvious question I have that I have not had a satisfactory answer to is if red is dominant to blue and grizzle dominate to both blue bar and check why aren't our parks filled with red grizzles?   Do you have any thoughts.




You need to get a better understanding of genetics.    A pigeon can be a combination of ashred and blue; bar and checker, grizzle and non grizzle.     Why?   If you will go to my web site and read the chapters' one through four it will explain it more fully.    However, in a nut shell every cock pigeon will have two Z or sex chromosomes while a hen will only have one Z and one W sex chromosome.    This is the opposite of humans where a female is XX and a male is XY.

The base color gene of brown, blue/black or ashred resides on the Z chromosome.   It will always be one of these three base colors even when the bird does not look that color.   Since a hen only has one Z, she can only carry one base color gene.    On the other hand, since the cock has two Z's he will always have two possibilities for base color.    They may both be the same or they may be a combination of any two.    An ashred grizzle with small black flecks is carrying blue.    Black and blue are the same color in pigeons.

Blue bar, red check and color terms like these are really a combination of base color and pattern markings.   The pattern markings are not found on a sex chromosome.    They are located on one of the 40 chromosome sets.    These other chromosome sets are classified as Autosomal chromosomes.   Every pigeon will carry 40 sets or pairs for a total of 80.    Each set or pair is different and each is comprised of a string of genes.     This means that every pigeon be it a cock or a hen will have two possibilities for pattern.    These possibilities are barless, bar, light checker, checker, dark checker and t-pattern or t-check.   Since each bird will have two possibilities and since at times these possibilities will not be the same, only the more dominant of the two will be expressed.    Barless is the least dominant and t-pattern is the most dominant.   A barless // barless will appear as a barless while a barless // bar will appear as a bar and so on.

The color a pigeon shows is a combination of several things, base color, pattern, and any other modifiers such as grizzle, opal, indigo, spread etc to make the complete package.

Grizzle may hide pattern some what, but genetically it is still there.    Since these genes are still there they continue to appear in the offspring.    Hawks tend to go after odd colored birds so nature has a way of keeping their numbers down.    Blue bars and blue checks have the best chance of survival in the wild.

Go to the web site and read the information there, it will help you understand.

Ron Huntley


Hey Ron love your web page and have a question for you.   I am trying breed for Crests.   If I mate a crested bird with a non crested bird.    Will the non crested babies, from this pairing,  carry the crest gene? Some say yes and some say no.   I want to take those if they carry them and cross them with a crested bird?   But if they do not carry the crest gene them I am wasting my time right?   Would love your wisdom.


Hi Randy 

To answer your question about crests, yes, a youngster from a crested bird (homozygous for crest) to a non crested bird (homozygous for wild type or no crest) will carry one gene for both crest and non crest (heterozygous for each gene type).    If you mate this heterozygous youngster to another pure crested bird then 50% will be pure for crest and show crest while the other 50% will be non-crested just as the first but a heterozygous carrier of each gene.

What type of crest are you dealing with and which breeds?

Ronald Huntley

I'm not sure I understand allomorphs. Why does it create two alternative forms of a gene?


The word is allelomorph not allomorphs.  Your spell checker may have made this change since “MOST” spellcheckers do not include allelomorph in their list of words.

An Allelomorph is an alternative form of a gene. When a gene mutates or undergoes a change, which in turn produces a different outcome, we call this new mutated gene an Allelomorph.  Since it is different from the original gene, we now have two possibilities.  Each possibility is called an Allele which is the short form of the word for Allelomorph.

Think of it this way.  Henry Ford use to produce the Model “A” Ford car.  One day he made some design changes and began producing both the original model “A” and the new form which he called the model “T”.  Both were still Ford Cars and they were both available from the same Ford car factory.

Think of the model “T” as an Allelomorph of the model “A”.  The two are sort of like alleles in that they are both Ford cars and can be purchased from the same factory.   Prior to the design change (mutation) there was only one Ford car possibility.  Now there are two possibilities (alleles) so with the addition of the new allelomorph we now have two choices.

Allelomorph Definition: An alternative form of a gene (one member of a pair) that is located at a specific position on a specific chromosome.   For example, the gene for seed pod color in pea plants exists in two forms, one form or allele for green seed pod color (G) and the other for yellow seed pod color (g).

Organisms have two alleles for each trait.  They may be the same which is homozygous or they may be different i.e. heterozygous.   When the alleles of a pair are heterozygous, one is more dominant than the other.   The dominant allele is expressed and the lesser dominant or recessive allele is masked.   Using the above example, green seed pod color (G) is dominant and yellow seed pod color (g) is recessive. Plants that produce green seed pods are either genetically (GG) or (Gg).  Plants that produce yellow seed pods are (gg).  

OK back to your question of "Why does it create two alternative forms of a gene?"  The Allelomorph doesn't create two forms of a gene.  Its mutation or coming into existence results in a new alternative for the original gene possibility.  If there were none prior then it would result in two possibilities or alleles.  If there were more than two alleles prior to the mutation then the total number of possibilities is increased by one.  



Hi, Ron:

    I had few moments this morning and went to your genetic site...just reading thru on "reds" and read you use the term "velvet" in a genetic sense...I’m sensing you have used it as a synonym for T-pattern?

    I have heard others refer occasionally to "velvet" but am wondering if it is a hand-me-down genetic term, versus a hard-core?  I'm just trying to increase my knowledge base here. I do enjoy your site.





Hi Garry:


I’m glad you’re enjoying my site.  I’m also looking forward to seeing you at Louisville later this month.


Velvet is a term to describe a bird which is darker than a normal T-pattern.  Many believe this phenotype is caused by other modifiers darkening the T-pattern.  On a typical T-pattern you can see a small T at the end of the wing shield feathers.  This is where the name T-pattern comes from.  I have a photo of this on my site at the page for patterns.   


Having said all that I’m not convinced that Velvet is simply a darkened t-pattern.  I believe Velvet is a separate mutation in the pattern series and that it is dominant to T-pattern.  However I have no proof so I don’t make the claim.  The way I see it there are several causes for Velvet, one being a separate mutation, while others are due to the addition of other modifiers such as homozygous Smoky, heterozygous recessive red, Dirty and Sooty. 


Kite will produce Velvet but has a bronze tint.  The reason I feel some Velvets are caused by a separate gene or pattern allele is that when you find Velvet on an ash red it does not match what we know is supposed to happen with some of the above causes found on blue and brown. 


Example: I have Ash Red Velvets that have clean ashy colored wing tips and tails.  You probably saw a photo of one on my Reds page.  It’s this clean ashy color that’s important.  These Velvets can not be from a single dose of recessive red on Ash Red since such birds would have a marooned red color that extends into their wing tips and tail feathers. 


My Ash Red Velvets have deep red colored necks.  We know that Dirty causes a frosty or silvery color around the neck so Dirty can be ruled out as a cause.  


Homozygous Smoky would darken the overall bird’s color which is good but on Ash Red it would also extend the red color into the tail and eliminate that clean ashy look.  So Smoky can be ruled out. 


That leaves Sooty and if that is the cause then we should be able to separate Sooty out through breeding to a blue barless where the Sooty would really stand out.  I have not done any testing so I don’t know what the outcome would be.


If Velvet is a separate pattern allele breeding pure Velvet to a barless would always result in more Velvets since barless is the more recessive of the two.  If Velvet is not a separate pattern allele then breeding to a barless should expose the two patterns under the Velvet modifiers (one at a time) on the young produced, i.e. some being bar while others being checker or T-pattern.  The major problem would still remain with the het barless//T-pattern Velvets produced.  If the cause for the Velvet is recessive modifier to the pattern displayed it would not show and we could demonstrate that it was not a pattern; however if it is a dominant then we would get the same results as we would for it being a pattern allele so additional breeding tests would have to be done to break the linkage between the T-pattern and the Velvet genes.


I hope I was able to make myself clear on this and I hope it answered your question on what Velvet is. <grin> 


Don’t forget to bring that Smoky to Louisville.  If you have room I would like to examine a Spread Blue Milky. I don’t want one but would like to see one. 





Hi again Ron

I was wondering if the base color would show thru EVEN MORE, with Reduced added ?... as Reduced does what it's name implies, and would the ash red/blue/brown have an even more pronounced effect? 


Garry, reduced like both dilute and pale work’s on base color, not in addition to it.  Exactly what these three do or how they work I’m not sure but the end result is a change in the color as light reflects back to our eyes.   

The colors we see are governed just as much by the pigment color as they are by the pigment granule’s size, shape, numbers, and distribution.  When you elongate black pigment granules they tend to brake into smaller sections or droplets.  These reflect as a reddish bronze color.   Some juvenile bronzes are produced this way.  The accelerated growth of the juvenile feathers can cause the granule droplets and is why you no longer see bronze when the slower growing adult feathers molt in.   

When I look at a bird to determine its genetic make up I try to understand what each gene does and how its effects are being displayed.  It is a mistake to only go by color.  An indigo blue is very different from an indigo brown or ash red.  However, while indigo effects both course spread and smooth spread differently, its indigo effects on the spread areas of three base colors is the same.  This in turn, allows us to recognize indigo even though the final colors are vastly different.   Same is true for spread, grizzle and most other modifiers.  Recessive red is no different and we use this knowledge to produce enhanced reds that are solid and uniform in color by having the proper combination of genes present to insure the solid uniform red color. 

Recessive red changes the production of pigment from whatever is being produced at the base color and changes it to red pigment.  Recessive red seems to be more epistatic in the head, neck and body areas.  Its epistasis effects are not as strong on the back, rump and tail.  This is why we see pattern showing through when the bird is a blue base color without other modifiers or genes that changes the blue base color.  The same is true on a brown but since brown is closer to red in color the difference is less notable.  Ash red is normally ash in these same rear areas and the recessive red color has a more epistasis effect since red is darker than ash.   

Let’s assume reduce changes the number of pigment (melanin rod-shaped granules) present in the base color.  If that’s the case, then the number of pigment granules would be less than those of a normal colored bird.  If recessive red changed these melanin granules from black to red and reduced resulted in only half the number of granules produced then the end result would be a shade of pink.   Reduced on blue or black results in a pink color where the smooth spread pattern marking are; and a dark metallic color on the head, neck and body with an even lighter metallic color back, rump and tail. The epistasis effects of recessive red override the effects of reduced just as it does on a normal blue.  We can see all of this from the photos posted with the pink colored head and body and lighter colored back, rump and tail. 

As our pink youngsters molt into their adult feathers, their overall color should become slightly darker and more evenly distributed.  The color defects caused by juvenile plumage will be gone and the birds should be more pleasing in appearance.  Had spread also been present, those pigment granules would have been evenly distributed and the entire bird would be the darker shade of pink.   



Hi Ron

I bred a brown Bar cock bird with a Blue velvet, How did I get 1 Brown Bar and 1 Blue bar?   The brown bar should be a hen and the blue a cock bird but with velvet being Dom, why did I not get velvet now the dam is from 2 velvets (one must of past bar!!).



Hi Tim


Color and pattern are two separate genetic functions.  The color genes i.e. brown, blue-black and ash red are found on the Z sex chromosome.  The pattern series genes are located on one of the 40 plus Autosomal chromosomes pairs.  What that means is that every cock pigeon will posses two genes for color while every hen only one.  Since brown is the least dominant of the base colors, both color genes would have to be brown for your cock to display his brown color.  Therefore your brown cock can only pass along a brown gene to each sperm he produces.  This of course means his daughters will all be brown.  If he is matted to a blue hen then all of their sons will be heterozygous for both blue-black and brown but he will only display the blue-black color.  As you can see, color can be sex linked.


With the pattern genes being located on one of the Autosomal chromosome pairs they are not sex related in any way.  Both sexes will have two genes for pattern and they may or may not be the same pattern.  If they are different then the more dominant will display.  Their order of precedence is barless, bar, checker, dark checker, t-pattern and or velvet.  Just because you bred velvet with a bar does not mean that you will only get velvets.  Should the velvet be heterozygous for both bar and velvet, then there is a 25% chance they will produce a homozygous or pure bar pattern youngster; a 50% chance that they will produce a heterozygous bar/velvet youngsters which will be velvet and a 25% chance that the youngster will be pure or homozygous for velvet.


So to answer your questions, yes the brown will be a hen and the blue will be a cock carrying brown.  The production of the bared youngster (if produced in an isolated breeding cage) indicates that the velvet hen is either carrying bar or is carrying barless.  Either way such a combination of bar//bar or barless//bar would result is another bared youngster.





Hi Ron I am just asking the very basics on the one pigment gene Blue.


Now am I correct to say we know there are well three pigment colour genes to date at the pigment locus.  Well yes and no.  Today the accepted theory is that we have two mutations which can change the wild type color of blue/black into a brown or an ash red.   These may or may not be the same genes that actually make the pigment.  Most likely there are several genes that produce these pigments.  You might say these are the three main ones.


But to see these three colours we need something to carry these three pigment colours and of course we are talking the pigeon.


I am so not confused but disorientated why people call a Blue Bar (+) or Blue Black Bar (+) pigeon a Blue Black pigeon ( +//S)  Wild type is a concept that helps us in identifying all visual mutations such as color, size, shape or anything that is a change from the normal species found in nature.  Wild type is symbolized as +.  In pigeons, a wild type pigeon is what we call the blue bar rock dove.  Naturally such a bird will have just as many genes as any other pigeon of a different size or color but these differences are the result of mutations.  It is these mutations that we assign our gene names and symbols to.   Yes, bar is a pattern but it is also the base point for wild type at that pattern gene locus.  A brown bar would also be wild type for pattern (+ for bar) but mutated (b) for basic color, one mutation one color change.

The same exist for an ash red bar pigeon which is wild type + for pattern and bA for its color mutation; again only one mutation for one color change. The pattern in both cases remained the same unchanged from wild type bar.


I argue the point and of course get put down every time. To me a Blue Black pigeon is a Blue pattern spread pigeon, it could be Blue bar, Blue open check or Blue T-check. Yes Mario that is true but please do not confuse a general description with a genetic description.  A general description, describes what you see when looking at a pigeon; while a genetic description only refers to the changes brought about by the mutations.  A blue bar is a general description. Wild type is the genetic description that describes the same appearance. 


Spread is different, as a mutation it hides all patterns by covering them with smooth spread pigment in the same color as the bird’s tail; again only one mutation for change.   Let me list some examples by using a comparison chart.


General Descriptions

Genetic Descriptions


Blue Bar



Blue Barless





Blue Checker



Blue T-Pattern












Wild type without any mutations. All of the many genes it takes to make a blue bar pigeon are classified as wild type.  These are the bench marks or reference points.


Barless is the only mutation.  Wild type color is understood and not symbolized nor are the many other wild type genes that it takes to make a pigeon.  The only gene necessary to describe this bird is c for the barless mutation.  Everything else is wild type.


Checker is the only mutation. Wild type color is understood and not symbolized.

Same as above.


T-Pattern is the only mutation.  Wild type color is understood and not symbolized.

Same as above.

Brown Bar



Brown Barless



Brown Checker



Brown T-Pattern




b,   c



b,  C



b,  CT

The only gene necessary to describe this bird is b for the brown color mutation.  Everything else is wild type.


The color brown and the barless pattern are the only mutations.  Thus these two are the only ones symbolized or needed to describe this bird.  Everything else is wild type.


The color brown and the checker pattern are the only mutations.  Thus these two are the only ones symbolized or needed to describe this bird.  Everything else is wild type.


The color brown and T- pattern are the only mutations.   Thus these two are the only ones symbolized or needed to describe this bird.  Everything else is wild type.


Ash red Bar



Ash red Barless




Ash red Checker



Ash red T-Pattern




bA,   c



bA,  C



bA,  CT

The only gene necessary to describe this bird is bA for the ash red color mutation.  Everything else is wild type.


The color ash red and the barless pattern are the only mutations.  Thus these two are the only ones symbolized or needed to describe this bird.  Everything else is wild type.


The color ash red and the checker pattern are the only mutations.  Thus these two are the only ones symbolized or needed to describe this bird.  Everything else is wild type.


The color ash red and T- pattern are the only mutations.   Thus these two are the only ones symbolized or needed to describe this bird.  Everything else is wild type.



Spread Black

over bar pattern




Wild type color and pattern are understood and not symbolized.  Spread is the only mutation.



Spread Brown

over barless pattern


S,   b,   c

Spread the color brown and barless are the only three mutations.  Thus these three are the only ones symbolized or needed to describe this bird.  Everything else is wild type.


Spread Ash Red

over T- pattern


S bA, CT



Spread the color ash red and T-pattern are the only three mutations.  Thus these three are the only ones symbolized or needed to describe this bird.  Everything else is wild type.


Indigo blue bar



Indigo is the only mutation.  Both color and pattern are wild type as are all the many other genes, thus only Indigo is symbolized or needed to describe this bird.  Everything else is wild type.



For any of the three pigment colours they have to unite with one of the pattern genes to express themselves which must be alleles.  Think of alleles as being alternative possibilities that are only possible when they replace the original or in this case a wild type gene. 


Again I was put down for supposedly mixing a pigment colour with a pattern gene from the pattern locus.


To me a Blue pigeon (+), Ash red pigeon (BA) or a Brown pigeon (b) has to start from the bottom and that is Bar-less (c). So if we see a blue bar-less pigeon it is blue with a black tail bar (+ /c), an Ash red bar-less pigeon (BA/c) it would be ash but we would not see the tail bar, a brown pigeon  it would be brown with a drab tail bar (b/c).  Mario the wild type system used to describe pigeons was devised years ago by the people who have to deal with genetics on a daily basis.  It is much easier for them to describe only the mutations or changes from wild type than it would be to list all the thousands of genes needed to make a pigeon.  It really doesn’t matter what you or I would like it to be; we are not the ones who must communicate in this fashion.  Genetic researchers do; for them it is simple and by only listing the mutations it is less likely to result in a mistake.  There must be a starting point and the blue bar phenotype was selected as that starting point.  It is the universal description of wild type at every gene locus.   Regardless of what you or I may think that is never going to change.


So if I call a blue pigeon to me it would be a blue bar-less pigeon (+ / c). A blue bar pigeon it would be a blue pigeon with black bars (+//+), a blue open checker pigeon would be a blue pigeon with black checks (+//C) and so on.   Mario the wheel has already been invented.  Today we can change or improve on it but we cannot reinvent it.  What you are trying to do is change a system that others who use it daily do not wish to have it changed.  


Now am I correct in what I am saying. I know about the Black pigment if compressed will appear to us as Blue and if the Black pigment is course it looks black to us.


Can you fill me in or explain better for me please.


Thanking you Mario  


I hope that was of some help


Ron Huntley

Brad Pare writes:
Hello Ron, My name is Brad and I live in Abbotsford BC Canada an hour outside of Vancouver. I raise Indian Fantails and frequent the Indian Fantail forum, and have just spent an hour on your genetics site and will have to return another time...there is way too much information there. My question to you is: a person has an all pure white loft, and lets say he can go back at least 4 generations being pure white, babies are born both long downed and short downed does down length have any meaning and what does it mean. Any information you might have would be sincerely appreciated.    Regards   Brad 

Brad, your question of down length of white pigeons is a good question and I will try to answer it as best I can without going into too much detail.
The color white is produced when the feathers pigment production is turned off.  There are several different ways to produce a solid white pigeon, i.e albino, recessive white, pied bald white, spread ash red grizzle, grizzle white and some combinations of pied white and directional white. 

Regardless of the type of white you have, genetically speaking they all (100% of them) are one of three color posibilities which are hidden by their feather pigment being turned off.  They must be some form of brown, blue/black or ash red with their true color being turned off thus resulting in a white.  We know this is true because when you take for example an ash red cock masked by some form of white and mate him to a brown pigeon hen you will produce all ash red youngsters.   This is due to the genes that result in white being recessive and as such they will only show when the bird is pure or homozygous for the white factor.  Your white birds are therefor pure for some form of white factor.   Any bird that is split for white and normal will he heterozygous and the effects of the white producing gene will not display.

OK, but you asked about down length and why some are short while others are long.  Well the total genetic makeup of your white birds is not limited to just the production of pigment or lack thereof; it also includes several other factors.  Things like pale or non-pale; dilute or non dilute; extreme dilute or non extreme dilute; indigo or non indigo; dominant opal or non dominant opal; recessive red or non recessive red; so on and so forth for all of the many various color mutations; be they recessive or dominant and any of their many combinations.  

Genes like pale, dilute, and extreme dilute will result in squabs being so sparse in down feather that they will appear as being naked.  Genes like almond and qualmond will produce squabs that are very short downed.  Conversly, any normal color pigeon be they browns, blues or ash reds will have long down unless they are in combination with one of the other mutations that I just mentioned. 
Example: and ash red dilute would be naked down while an ash red almond would be very short downed.  Well now if this is true for colored pigeons the same would be true for color pigeons that have their pigment turned off resulting in whites. 
Example: a white with naked down would be a dilute of some form be it a pale, dilute or extreme dilute.  It (the dilute) makes no difference as to their color because their color has been turned off by the white factor.  The only effects of dilute that we can see in this case, will relate to the non production of down, rendering the squab as being naked.  In other words, a white squab with naked down is either a pale, a dilute or an extreme dilute and all three types will still be seen as white.

I hope that all makes some sense for you and answers your question.  It was a very good question to ask.

Ron Huntley




Hi Ron,


I liked your website a lot.  I have a question, and I think I came to the right person.  lately, I hear the name (pure Andalusian) is there any thing called pure Andalusian???    If there is, how should it look?


Thank you.

Jamal .G. Telmesani


Hi Jamal

I'm pleased you like my web site and hope it is in some small way useful to you.


You asked if it would be possible to have pure Andalusian in pigeons and what it would look like. 


Well let me first say that Andalusian is a color that results when combining three genes together to produce the phenotype known as Andalusian.  In other words, it is neither a color nor a modifier gene unto itself, it is a combination of three genes all working together to produce this Andalusian effect.


Andalusian is produced when you take a blue pigeon that is either heterozygous for blue and brown or homozygous for blue only and add to it; a single heterozygous modifier for indigo and to either heterozygous or homozygous spread.


Jamal please keep in mind that for something to be pure it must be homozygous which simply means both possibilities are the same and not split for a genetic effect which is what a heterozygous effect would be.  If you noticed, while the Andalusian combinations I listed above could be pure for both blue and spread it was only heterozygous or split for indigo and for a very good reason.  Indigo in a pure or homozygous state on a blue is seen not as indigo but as a mimic for ash red.


Homozygous or pure indigo turns the blue into ash red looking birds.  Genetically they are not real ash reds but they look the same as a true ash red would look with the exception of having a slightly darker head and face and a very, very slight bluish tint over their back and tail feathers.  Therefore, when you throw in spread you get a strawberry looking color and not the typical Andalusian color you would be after.   


To answer your question a pure Andalusian would in fact be a pure blue, pure indigo and a pure spread and such a bird would not look anything like Andalusian which is a solid, deep purple color.  Instead, you would have a bird that looked just like a spread ash red checker or what many call a strawberry.  The two are mimics of each other.  Therefore a pure Andalusian would no longer be an Andalusian and that doesn't make much sense, does it?


I hope that was clear and of some help.


Ron Huntley