The mystique of producing a dream bird is deeply imbedded in the mentality of the western fancier. Several successful results were sited. A vivid example is the substantial improvement of the Racing pigeon to home within the last two centuries. Fancy pigeons have concomitantly achieved good results using their knowledge in color genetics as we see in nowadays Modenas, Kings, Trumpeters and the list could go on and on. The improved breed is usually derived from a pool of breeds possessing desirable qualities after methodical planning.
When goals are reached, the matter then is to focus on maintaining and sharpening what has begotten. It is no longer introduction or random mixing. The Egyptian swifts have inevitably gone through the same process long time passing. The breed as evidenced by it's noble appearance and color brilliancy, portray a full proof of hundreds or even thousands years of refinement. They possess many, if not all colors known in pigeons. Hypothetically this could be because of the maximum exchange of genes from the mutation sites as they cross over the chromosomes.
Despite growing up with the breed and observing all possibilities, I have limitation in decoding their colors according to what is currently provided in genetic books. The following modifiers and autosomal genes are identified individually or collectively in the ES on the basis of their phenotype.
Black, Spread, Indigo, Milky (powdered silver), Sooty and possibly others all seen combined to produce the Andalusian color of the Otati.
Grizzle, Barless and almond are seen in the Safi.
Opal notes in the blue Bolk and some of the Rehani family.
Spangling, Lacing in Bolks as expressed separately in blue, black and brown.
Recessive red: as seen in the self-red of Ahmar, Morraca, Asfar Gohzar and the Halaby.
Homogenous pastel yellow on the Yellow Rehani.
Azure or Ice as in the Barless powder Safi (Rahmani).
Bronze: as in the dark blue Rehani (Gazgandi) and Azrark Katifa(blue velvet).
Dilution: Bronze, Silver Blue Rehani and Otati Saboni.
Pale: This is noted vividly as you compare the pure Bronze Rehani (Gazgandi). Also noted in the Otatis
Faded: which expresses the conspicuous contrasting coloration of the neck as opposed to the rest of the body. That is notable in the black Rehani with an expression of a yellow mane against a beetle sheen black body. Faded necks are also observed in the Almond Safi and the Andalusian Otati.
An important concept that we have to keep in mind as we proceed is that the Egyptian Swifts(Gohzar) are divided into unique subfamilies or subgroups, depending mostly on the beak setting, which has been referred to in previous articles.
Each subgroup of the ES family is characterized by distinctive facial configuration that is supported by a unique color and pattern to enhance the purity and the conformity of each group. Deceptively enough to the untrained eye, the similarity of the physical appearance, flashy colors and short beaks have confused the novice fancier. These differences are pointed out concisely in the written standards accompanied by properly drawn outlined diagram and supplemented by many pictures.
Beginners who conceive the color and the length as the ultimate attraction of the ES usually have one or more of the following three agendas in mind:
Mixing will produce colors previously unknown to the ES:
This is a popular notion going around in the USA. A prime example is the Rehani and the Otati subgroups. Unfamiliar fanciers see a dark body and faded necks, thinking they must be the same. Crossing these two birds will lead us the exact direction as out breeding from two different breeds. Most of the groups stand out from each other in their beak settings, eye color, cere, head shape and even their body shape. The Otati has blunt, wide mandibles, and large head that reflects on its muscular body unlike the finely structured Rehani. The Rehani has an obtuse, spindly beak. A noticeable elevated forehead is a part of a compacted and small head. The Otati is more dominant in any setting over the unstable color of the Rehani. The color of the first generation will resemble an Otati with narrow pointed peak and medium body. Others have mated faded Safi to Bronze Rehani to produce an Almond bird! The results is uncharacteristic facial markings.
Injecting new color and look in other breeds:
There are many examples to site here from pictures mailed to me or from birds I observed in occasional shows that were claimed under the ES. Rehanis were mated with Archangels. Syrian Dewlaps and Tubinteens were introduced to Bolks. Others have done the same with Rollers and others. The provided link above is probably the best example of quality birds and mix birds. You may test yourself by trying to discern the difference and ask yourself on what basis you arrived to your answer.
Have you ever wondered why many of the ES colors are not copied in their entirety to other breeds? The Black Rehani is a vivid example. Is it because of lack of genetic factors that have to be present at the other breed during gene transmission? Whatever the case might be, it might not be totally overcome until genetic mapping is widely performed inexpensively on various animals.
Mixing to produce a bird of vigor:
Some fanciers become attracted to the ES for the purpose of transmitting one or more of its color-rich gene pool to another breed, others have been attracted to the long wings to increase the wing span of a racing bird. This is done frequently in Egypt when out crossing a homer x ES producing the so-called Ostrali. The translation of the word in Arabis rightfully so is the Mule. The new breed has more endurance than the Swifts but flies with the same rhythm as the ES and displaying a touch of color from the ES parents. Their beaks are longer with thicker wattle and eye cere. They are also used as excellent fosters for many short beaked Swifts. The term used for a bastard breed in Egypt is (Bazrameet), probably of Turkish origin, used widely in Egypt. The Bazrameet is hardly of any value because it is regression in the evolutionary process of the ES. The most striking example of random mixing is mating of the two ES subgroups (Gazgandi & Otati) that made their way to Europe and the USA via the Syrian-Lebanese region. The newly mixed breed is widely known in the west as the Syrian Swifts. Mixing was carried on regardless to group consideration in order to save the few remaining Egyptian birds.This resulted in a temporarily stronger generation that has the appearance of the ES; however devoid from the distinctive ES colors and pattern (mostly drab colors) and lack identity. This concept has become an attractive phrase to market birds otherwise would have been eliminated. Again the same link above provide few example of that. I had sold few Reds and velvets to a racing fancies for the purpose of expanding the wing span of his Racing homers to win the races!
Neither the term Syrian Swifts nor Egyptian Swifts is used in the Lebanese- Syrian region. When found, pure Egyptian birds are strictly known as "the Egyptian pigeons" in that region. It is worthy to add that the term Swifts is alien among the Egyptian fanciers and other Middle-Eastern countries. The term is confined to the western countries. In EgyptThey are called the "GOHZARS" as we truly should call them here too
It is refutable that the purpose of mixing is to improve their flying. With proper group selection, pure ES in my loft have been documented to home from over thirty miles on the video "DUEL IN THE SKY".
The process of improving the ES is strictly encompassed in maintaining it's fine characteristics within each unique group or knowing exactly how revert to the origin. Those who show will find it challenging to keep up with beak settings, color and body style. On the other hand, it becomes of an art to maintain most of their distinguishing marks in addition to watch them flying briskly.
When do we get away with occasional subgroup mixing?
Generally if we are within the same subgroup. Here is a basic scheme and should applied very carefully as a last resort:
Bolks: Black Bolks (fahmey) are mated with the Walnut Bolks (bondoc). They are simply identical except for their colors.
Rehani: A very careful crossing of Azrak Katifa (blue velvet) with Black Rehani could be done, but not with the Gazgandy (a cross between blue velvet and possibly Otati for flying power) Excessive crossing will replace the beetle sheen hue by indigo and copper lacing over the shoulders. Yellows (Wardy) could be crossed with the white (Asfar Waraka).
Recessive Reds (Ahmar Gohzar) : Mated with the Yellow Gohzar.
Safi: The major worry here is the insurmountable difficulty in attaining the proper beak setting. Color is of no impact on this group. Any slight impurity or poor selection is easily detected in this group. Long birds with proper beak settings are the jewels of the Egyptian loft. This could be only achieved within the group setting.
Mesawed: Don't ever mix them with the Anbary group or Absy group. Each group has different facial structure.
The ES color genes are numerous and intricately interwoven with strong degree of stability over the years to produce the maximum effect of color brilliance. Changing this subtle combination through random mixing will destabilize their genetic make up producing aberrant colors; however dull and less attractive. Furthermore it leads to unrecognized and valueless breed. For more type Egyptian Swifts using a search engine and see if you could point signs of mixing!.