Dark and Light Versions
(Photo by John Ward of Australia)
© 1977 Poule d'eau Publishing
Dilute Greys be they recessive or dominant are generally referred to as Silvers, and dilute Fawns as Creams. The name, Pastel was first adopted by Europeans in reference to dominant dilutes. The term Silver was used for recessive dilutes. However confusion still exists among authorities and some refer to Dominant dilutes as Silver or Cream, with no reference to the name Pastel, nor to the Recessive Silvers and Creams. Fortunately, there are those authors which acknowledge the differences by prefacing the name silver or cream with that of Dominant or Recessive, i.e. Dominant Silvers, Recessive Silvers, etc. That seems to be the best way.
The first dilute zebra mutation was the Dominant Cream. It appeared in Australia in the early 1930's. The literature indicates that the first Dominant Dilutes were dilute Creams rather than Silvers. It is interesting that a new mutation would first appear in a color other than Grey. Dominant Dilutes did not originate in the wild as did a number of other mutations that came from down under. According to several authorities, the first Dominant Silver zebras arrived in Europe in 1938. They were popular and by the late 1940's Dominant Dilute zebras were being bred in the U.K. Dominant Silver were often referred to as "Blue" zebras in the US. This name was applied to dark Dominant Silver that often seemed to show a slate, blue-grey appearance. The "Blue" zebras never truly had a blue color and while the name "Blue Zebra" continues to persist in the literature, particularly abroad, it is not generally an accepted one.
The Dominant Silver is in my opinion the most attractive of the dilute Zebras. The unique color features make this mutation irresistible to any connoisseur of Zebra Finches. The male's cheek patches are very dilute, varying from pale orange or cream to silvery white. Dominant Silvers can possess a variable body color, from dark grey to very pale silver. I have seen dark Dominant Silver which were very similar to normal Greys, except in cheek patch and flanking color.
Naturally, the most desirable Dominant Silvers are birds that exhibit the palest color. A good Dominant Silver cock will have a pale silver body color. The wings, back and rump should be a clear even color and free of any streaking of darker pigmented areas. Many birds show some streaks of brown or buff coloration in these areas. This is a common fault associated with Dominant Silvers. Tear drop marks and tail barring should be visible. The breast bar should also be discernible from the body color, but only slightly darker. The tail should be the same shade of silvery grey as the body. The lower breast and vent area should be very light cream or buff to near white. The cheek patches should be light cream to silvery white, with no orange pigment. The flanking color should compliment the cheek patch, perhaps having a bit more orange blush but preferably a pale shade of peach or cream. The white spotting of the flanking should be visible. The Dominant Silver hen should show a similar shade of silvery grey, free of streaking. Hens should also show the typical dilute tear drop mark and tail barring.
Since Dominant Silvers are more easily produced in good size and color , they are often seen on the show bench. This variety is a superb exhibition bird. Perhaps the most attractive combination of the Dominant Silver is with that of the Lightback. Lightback Silvers are striking with a pale body accentuated with black tear drop and tail markings.