According to Webster Dictionary: a-ri-a. (ä΄rēַə), noun, 1. an elaborate melody sung by a single voice 2. a striking solo performance [Italian, from Latin ǎera, literally means air]
The cinnamon inheritance is carried genetically, and is a sex-linked gene that can be passed on from either the father or the mother. For those of you interested in breeding canaries, you should refer to the Color Pairing w/Cinnamon Factor Chart.PDF that shows you the possible results in offspring, color-wise, when you pair a male of a certain color with a hen of a certain color.
When the cinnamon factor occurs in a white ground canary it produces what is termed a "fawn" color, which is more of a beige appearance. You will notice the tinge of yellow on the flight feathers which is charactoristic of the dominant white ground color.
You will also encounter canaries where the black pigment is absent from the melanin. The brown melanin that is left changes the appearance of a yellow ground colored canary to a warm cinnamon color. This coloration is know as the "cinnamon factor".
When the melanin is black/brown, the white ground colored bird is said to be a "blue" canary. This "blue" is not like you would see on a parakeet, but is actually appears to be more of a slate gray. This photo shows a blue hen.
American Singer canaries are also found with white ground color, another mutuation. This photo is of a dominant white canary hen. The gene for white is dominating the yellow ground color so that it only appears on the edges of the flight feathers (wings).
Colors of Canaries
If you think that all canaries are yellow, you join the company of hundreds of folks who have this common misconception. The yellow canary is a mutation that occurred as people began breeding canaries in captivity a few hundred years ago. The wild canary is not a yellow bird. It is a yellow-green bird with brown-black streaking on the back. Keepers of canaries have learned that is actually a bird of yellow ground color with a overlay of black/brown melanin pigment that gives it the appearange of green. This transparent overlay alters the appearance of the ground color and gives the bird a green cast.
Now, the mutation of the canary being hatched without the melanin overlay, exposing the bright yellow ground color, probably occurred in the wild, but a yellow bird would be an easy target for predators. It was protected in captivity, and soon became very popular. Canaries were then bred selectively to produce more birds of this pure yellow color. This color became so common that the words "canary yellow" are now as recognizable as a description for a certain color as the words "lime green" or "sky blue" are for other colors.
In the illustration below, you can see how a black/brown overlay on a yellow ground color produces an olive green color. Artists frequently combine yellow paint and black paint to get various shades of green. I guess it shouldn't surprise us that God chose the same color combination to get the original green of the wild canary.
Here we see the babies in the weaning cage and not looking so much like babies anymore. It is amazing to see them develop and change from helpless chicks to independent beings in only a few short weeks.
I like variegated birds, as they can be identified by their unique markings. I've even named some based on their markings.... A bird named "Lefty" because of a yellow left wing, a bird called "Santa" because of a white beard.
Melanin can be totally absent from the bird, which is what you see when you look at a canary that is completely yellow, or completely white. This is called a "clear" bird. All you are seeing is the pure ground color of the bird. When melanin only affects a few feathers in a patch no bigger than a dime, the bird is called "ticked".
To the other extreme, a bird totally covered with the melanin overlay is called "self". When one of these dark birds has only a few feathers showing of the ground color, it is referred to as a "foul" bird.
Everything in between the ticked canary and the foul canary is called variegated. This is where the pattern or patches of melanin appear anywhere on the bird. Each variegated bird is different, and the coloration can be quite beautiful.
Feather type also affects the color tone that the bird appears. There are two basic feather types in canaries..... hard and soft. In the hard feather type, the color in the feathers is intensive and covers the entire feather. Its color is bright and vivid. In the soft feather type, the ground color is less intensive and does not extent all the way to the outermost tips of the feather, but stops short, leaving the tips white. This makes the bird look frosted or pastel. A soft feathered bird also differs slightly in structure, in that the soft feather is somewhat larger, broader and softer in texture and the bird has a rounder appearance.
Breeders of different types of canaries use different terms to describe feather type, and the terms are one of the things that often confuse newcomers. The chart below should help. The terms on the left side of the chart all mean the same feather type on one end of the spectrum. Similarly, all of the words on the right side of the chart are referring to the opposite feather type.
Here are the same two babies at about three weeks old. The cinnamon baby has feathered out with the white ground color of her mother, so is technically called a "fawn". Her garnet colored eyes have darkened and look the same as her nestmate now. Her sibling is a medium-variegated green, showing the yelow ground color in areas where the melanin is not present. At this age, their instinct has them crouch down and remain still when a "predator" (including a human) is around.
You will notice that these two-day old nestmates have different colored eyes. The one on the left has garnet colored eyes, while the baby on the right has black eyes. Garnet colored eyes are an indicator that the chick on the left is a cinnamon (or a fawn depending on the ground color it will have). As the chick gets older, its eyes will darken and will appear the same as non-cinnamon birds. It is possible to determine the sex of a chick this young in some cinnamon pairings based on the traits of the parents. The baby on the left in this photo is a girl. The chart referred to above gives you clues as to what sex garnet eyed chicks may be depending on the parent's cinnamon traits.