We study color pattern variation within members of the Estrildidae family, part of the species-rich group Neoaves. Estrildid finches are small passerine birds distributed in Asia and Australia. We survey their color patterns and perform developmental work on non-threatened species that are tractable in the field, reproduce in captivity and display typical color domains with little sexual dimorphism.
The zebra finch (Taenopygia guttata) is an Australian songbird widely used in behavioral and developmental neurobiology. Contrary to other avian models (chick), it displays a sharp typical dorso-ventral color pattern: dark grey wings / upper body and light ventrum. Males also have a black and white striped chest, which gave this bird group its name.
Zebra finches have the technical advantages of both avian models (i.e., amenability to experimental embryology through in ovo manipulation) and genetic models (i.e., sequenced genome, availability of molecular tools, transgenic strategies).