Black Face Zebra Finch
Black Face Zebra finch male

Mutation Effects
Inheritance: Dominant

Male: The space between the tear mark and the beak (lores) is changed from white to black and the breast bar is extended towards the vent making the underside of the male black. The extent of the black is variable. The flanks have a tendency to lose the spots, but this is not so in all cases. The tail coverts also carry more black. The white bars are more narrow.

Female: Black Face females have only subtle differences from normal hens and are easily passed over. The white between the tear mark and the beak is gray instead of buff white and there is often an extension of gray down from the breast. The tail bars are similar to males. because of these subtle marks, it can sometimes be difficult to distinguish BF hens from normals and the problem is exacerbated in other colors like fawn and CFW.

The Black Face mutation combines well with a number of other mutations. Because of the subtle effects on hens, the results of combination on them are less dramatic than in the males. Black Face is often combined with the Black Breasted mutation to create some spectacularly colored males with lots of black and orange. The two mutations often seem to enhance each other, extending the black down the breast towards the vent and filling the area between the beak and the breast bar. When combined with the Black Cheek mutation, the results are a very dark bird with the entire lower region filling in with black. When combined with the Orange Breasted mutation, the extended black areas change to orange. Some of the most spectacular combinations involve Black Face, Black Breast and Orange Breast together. This creates a bird with orange across the head and down to the vent.

The Australians also have an extremely dark version where the black extends from breast to tail. These are often referred to as Black Bodied, but these are still genetically a BF Zebra, not a new mutation. These birds were achieved through multiple BF x BF crosses. Some Australians have told me that if you mate a Black Bodied Zebra to a normal, the result is a Black Face rather than Black Bodied.

The Black Face mutation does conflict with the Florida Fancy mutation in that the BF extends the black areas while the Florida Fancy mutation is suppressing the black. They are still often combined because once these two mutation are then combined with the Orange Breasted mutation, the results are a striking bird with lots of orange on a white base.

The Black Face mutation probably conflicts with the Penguin mutation. I would expect the Penguin mutation to suppress all of the features of the Black Face Zebra.

Black Face Fawn Cheek (click to view)
Black Face Black Cheek (click to view)
Black Face Black Cheek Black Breasted - 'Triple Black' (click to view)
Black Face Black Breasted (click to view)
Black Face Black Breasted Fawn (click to view)
Black Face with Yellow Beak (click to view)
Black Face Recessive Silver (click to view)
Black Face Recessive Silver Pied (click to view)

It is believed that the double factor Black Face is a lethal. That is to say that if an egg were to receive the BF gene from both its parents, it would not hatch but die in the shell. Although this may sound tragic, there are advantages to BF x BF matings. These matings can be used to improve the black extension towards the vent. There is also a theory that they double factor BF is not lethal and that such birds may exhibit greater extension of the color and perhaps effect the spots in the flanks. More statistical data is needed to determine if the gene is lethal or not.

There is a condition known as melanism that causes usually white areas on a bird to change to black. Melanistic males will look very much like Black Face males, but melanistic females are also black unlike Black Face females which are gray. These black areas are often quite blotchy and are not the even black seen in Black Face Zebras. While the BF mutation is genetically controlled, melanism seems to be a metabolic malfunction, possibly having something to do with the liver. (Melanistic female and another shot. Close up of belly Notice the blotchy coloration. This is the worst case of melanism I have ever seen. I sold this normal female to a pet shop a year or so earlier. I brought her back home to see if I could reverse the melanism.)

Black Face Black Breasted Black Cheek male