© 1977 Poule d'eau Publishing

The Black Cheek Zebra is certainly the most recent of new mutations to arrive in the US. I am uncertain of its exact time and place of its origin but I suspect it was in the mid to late 1970's. I saw a picture of a Black Cheek Zebra dated 1980.

This mutation is recessive! Some have mistakenly listed it as dominant, it certainly is not. I have kept and bred this variety since 1991 and know it well. Without any doubt this mutation is one of the most eye-catching of all Zebra Finches. The black cheek patches of the male and female make it so. The Male Black Cheeks has not only black cheek patches, but dark reddish- black flanking with white dots. Some individuals show more intense black pigment in the flanking, others more chestnut. The female has black cheek patches just as the male does, but often the are not quite as intense as those found in male, and many females only have half a cheek patch present. When I received my first Black Cheek Zebra I remember looking in the shipping box and counting the birds. Initially I was disappointed because I thought I had received all males. In the excitement of looking at them it took me several minutes to realize that some were females, they were the ones without the breast bar.

Black Cheek young fledge with black cheek patches. There is no waiting period to determine whether or not they are going to be Black Cheeks. Immediately upon fledgling the black cheek patches are noticeable in both sexes. While the sexes are not always distinguishable at fledgling, since both sexes have black cheek patches, in short order the males will develop their breast bar and flanking. Often young females will fledge with dark cheek patches only to loose that intensity as they mature.

Black Cheek Zebras are hardy and good breeders. At first I struggled to establish a strain, beginning with only one pair of birds, I did accomplish it. Initially I bred all of the Black Cheeks I produced to splits to secure a number of breeding pairs. Later as I acquired unrelated Black Cheeks from another importation, I bred Black Cheek to Black Cheek.

I find Black Cheeks to be hardier than Orange Breasted Zebras. During the past two years of breeding Black Cheek Zebras I have produced more of them than I did Orange Breasted Zebras in twice that time period.

The Black Cheek mutation can be combined with other mutations. I have produced Silver Black Cheeks, Fawn Black Cheeks and Chestnut Flanked White Black Cheeks, but perhaps one of the most attractive combination is that of Black Cheek Lightback. These pale bodied birds show vivid glossy black markings. They are spectacular. Black Cheek X Black-face is also a very attractive combination.

What do you think a Black Cheek X Orange Breasted Zebra look like? Both mutations are recessive. Is it possible to produce a Zebra with black cheeks and an orange breast bar? Probably not, but the thought is intriguing.

Check these Black Cheeks out!