Initially, my starting point was an accident! For most of my life I have raised white beaked Budapest. There were no dark beak Budapest available to me that did not have faults and I had no one available with proper breeding stock. So, I decided to make Buda Blues by crossing my white beaks blues with a dark beak Buda Blue that had some valuable traits. The white beak blue had a dark beak which made it more desirable to use in the cross. Of course, I raised Buda Blues but some of them had pale ceres not black or dark ceres. But I was on my way! I kept selecting birds which could take me in the direction I wanted to go.
Dr Szecsenyi in his book mentions that it is the responsibility of the breeder to “fix” the trait that you were lucky enough to be given to work with.
So, I was still working on my Buda Blue project.
One of these Buda Blue cocks that I was working with was extra and it paired to a yellow hen (the dilute of recessive red). I got busy with the breeding program and I did not break the pair. Upon seeing one of their babies, I noticed it was odd. It was small and had a horn colored beak—not white and not black, As it matured, I realized that it was a SILVER—the true dilute of Buda Blue. The horn colored beak would make it a stock bird and not a show bird. In the family background there was dilution in the original white beak blue and the yellow hen is dilution of recessive red, but I knew the yellow hen had bars in its background also. This particular baby turned out to be a cock bird!
Because this Silver was a cock and this is a sex linked trait I was able to produce silver hens. I took two directions for 2 reasons. I paired the Silver cock to Buda Blue hens and raised silver hens. I, also, paired this Silver cock to white beak blue hens to try and secure the silver gene, but with whites beaks for show because I knew the horn colored beaks in white beaks is a fault.
The intelligent thing to have done with the originals horned beaked silvers was to create a class for them. Jealously, by some of the breeders halted the cause, so I just persisted with producing white beaks silvers. I was not afraid of the challenges presented to me.
It was rather easy to secure the silvers in the Buda Blue gene pool. So, I lost some of these birds and gave a few to one of my breeder friends who would not waste it.
Different from the Silver project, my quest to make Cream bars (inappropriately called Isabella) was definitely deliberate. I will need to explain details about whites here in order to explain the gene transfer for you.
In Budapest, whites are the complete blending of Ash Red and Stork. Many whites in the pigeon world are not understood. Budapest have blue eyes so their white color is understood through epistasis. Epistasis is the term used to describe the complete blending of the two color patterns. Ash red wipes out the black of the stork’s wings and the black cere and beak. But the Ash red can be a self or with bars. You never know what Ash you are working with unless you can see the faint bars in the hen or just take a chance on any white hen. The babies will tell you what you are working with.
So, now what has to be done is to separate the epistasis effect and release the Ash red bar. If it is ash red spread go back to white or raise ashes. I took a silver cock and paired it to a white hen. I produced Ash red bar cocks carrying dilution with the chance or possibility of producing silver or cream bars. I was able to produce the silvers and red bars. I crossed these silvers and red bars until I got a Cream bar hen.
I had success and failures with this color. I paired the cream bar hen with an Ash red bar cock (carrying dilution) and produced a cream bar cock and a cream bar hen—but I would not pair them because it is much too close and the young would die or I would raise inferior birds. In part of the program, I produced a spread Ash red carrying dilution. He looked like an Almond but was not an almond but he was carrying bars as well. So, now I had two avenues to travel. I was able to produce two beautiful cream bar hens – one from each pair. I recently gave the two hens to John DeCarlo because they got too old for me to use in heavy production. I was able to get one young cock from each of these hens this year. However, I lost both cocks from bringing a disease into the loft from showing. Adenovirus. Of course, I wanted to scream but I can reproduce them again because I have two cream bar males and several silver and brown bar hens to use in the new matings.
The silver gene I was able to secure better in the Buda Blue flock or with silver hens and cocks that I have.
Nothing is easy, but you must have perseverance to have success.
The Germans are known for color breeding but they don’t mix colors like I do. They stick to black, red, yellow and they are not really fond of browns which are a key pigeon in Budapest for making blue eyes. Many times, I get comments from the Middle East about being able to get many colors and patterns from my pigeons and I will explain why I breed differently.
Dr Szecsenyi knew I was isolated living in America and that being able to maintain a healthy flock would be more difficult for me. I can’t just go out and find a necessary bird. He suggested that I cross the colors keeping good records of what I was doing to be able to maintain hybrid vigor in the flock.
In the USA, usually I try to be collegial with the birds and when someone asks me for a good bird, then I ask them to trade with me. Bring a good bird for a good bird. Once in a great while it works but for the most part selfishness and fear of my breeding capabilities keeps it from happening.
I do not want to travel to Europe to look for one good specimen. The cost of bringing birds into the USA is prohibitive especially after 9/11. The flight, the broker, the doctors and NOT seeing the birds could cost up to $10,000.00 for me and I am not willing to chance the importation anymore. No one wants to share in the expense so I worked with what I have and I remain very critical of my own work. Some breeders think that I am too critical of my program.
I have, also, produced true steel marked grizzles and storks, but that is a topic for another paper.
I hope this information is useful to you in trying to accomplish new colors and patterns.