Friday, June 6, 2008

Song - Inheritance or Training

There has been some discussion in this forum on whether the shama’s song ability is inherited or it can be acquired by suitable training. One of the books that has assisted me a great deal in breeding and maintaining my shamas, is not a book on shamas or even of soft-bills but on canaries. While Linda Hogan’s “Canary Tales” is about Roller Canaries, there is much in the book that is applicable to other species. Below is an extract on the song inheritance of canaries which I have applied in my breeding program. By applying, and continuing to apply, Linda’s methods, I hope to eventually breed a super strain of shamas that is more desirable than anything in the wild. For breeders who would like to consider what is required to produce good songsters, I quote below from Linda's book:

How well a bird sings depends on its inheritance. It is estimated that 75% of the birds singing ability is inherited, while 25% of the singing ability is due to training. Since song is inherited as a sex-linked characteristic, to improve the song we must be able to identify the genetic contributions of both the cock and the hen. Sex-linked characteristics are carried on the x chromosome. The song the bird sings is dependent upon the genetic makeup of the two x chromosomes inherited one each from the father and mother. The female canary has one x chromosome and one y chromosome. Her x chromosome was inherited from the father and the y chromosome from her mother. Each male offspring of the hen will inherit the x chromosome she inherited from her father. The cock, in contrast, has 2 x chromosomes, one he inherited from his father and one he inherited from his mother. Male or female offspring have an equal opportunity of inheriting either the x chromosome of his father or the x chromosome of his mother. …… Even though the offspring have the same parents different song patterns are expected because of the combination of x chromosomes inherited from the mother and the father.

The practice of line breeding is one way to improve your bird’s song. A “good” singer can be selected and bred back to its mother. …. When we breed the son back to the mother we increase the mother’s contribution in half of the males as well as reproducing the mothers x song type in half of the females. By evaluating the sons we get a good idea of what the female is contributing to the male offspring’s song.

To get a closer look at both of the father’s x chromosomes we [breed] him back to several daughters and compare the sons’ song…..

Once the appealing combinations are identified, further line crossing can be made to improve the beautiful song. Utilizing half brother/sister combinations, weave a pattern that balances a cock who is strong in bass with a hen whose father was strong in hollow roll and vice versa.

When purchasing breeding stock buy from one breeder who is consistently winning on the show bench. Avoid the temptation to buy unrelated birds from different breeders. Always breed within a strain. When an outcross is necessary return to the same breeder. Only when a suitable outcross is not available, is it necessary to buy an unrelated bird. This unrelated bird should be pure and from a compatible strain. Do not breed males from this pairing because they will not breed true. Rather keep the daughters and breed them back to your original line. Many breeding disappointments can be avoided by always making sure that the breeding male is your pure strain. Outcross males may perform very well on the show bench, but only disappointing results happen when you breed them!

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