Pigeons made Beautiful!
By Manuel Yap
Illustrations by Vanessa Estarija
Racing pigeons have grown in popularity among fanciers, mainly because of the mysterious way in which they can return home from long distances.
I remember during the 80s, there were only two types of fancy pigeons: the pigeon owl and cowboy. Pigeon owls are birds that have short beaks while cowboy pigeons were those which had feathers covering their legs.
Presently, fancy pigeons have become popular because of the importation of breeds and regular bird shows in multiple regions of the country. Fancy pigeons are a type of domestic pigeon that is bred by pigeon fanciers for various traits relating to size, shape, color, and behavior. There are about 800 pigeon breeds, and the number is growing through more crossbreeding. Before the coming of hundreds of new types of fancy birds, I will share with you the fancy pigeons that have always been popular.
1. The Budapest has a unique face that makes it look like a cartoon character. These birds have eyes that can look particularly huge due to the bulges of bare flesh around them. Combined with their small heads, these bulging eyes create the illusion of a caricature bird.
The Budapest Highflier is regarded as one of the best races of high endurance flying birds. When it comes to highflying and endurance flying breeds, only the Old English Flying Tippler is more popular throughout the world.
- Origin: Hungary
- Description: The Budapest Highflier is a medium sized pigeon and has a slender build. The erect body tapers gradually to the tail. They have a small head with a well arched topskull and the forehead steeps towards the beak. The breast is carried proudly with good musculature.
- Colors: Black, red, white, yellow, pied, off colors
2.Barb – This fancy pigeon is my all time favorite. There are many interesting features and traits of this particular pigeon that I grew fond of. The young barb looks very naïve, and as they grow older, their looks suddenly change because of wattling development around the eyes. When viewed from the front, the head has the appearance of an empty spool of thread.
- Origin: England
- Size: Small to medium
- Description: Small beak without any pluffiness of feathers. Most notable about this pigeon is the wattling around the eyes and beak, which can take up to two years to fully develop into a fleshy flower-like ring around the eye.
- Colors: Black, fatigue green, orange or yellow, white
3.Tipplers are the most popular type for the high-flying pigeon group. It is a simple bird that packs a lot. They are a breed known for endurance flying competitions. Flying results of up to 22 hours non-stop have been reported. Fanciers from western countries compete their birds against each other without leaving the confines of their own home. Here in the Philippines, ipplers are popular for bird shows instead of endurance flying.
- Origin: England
- Size: small to medium
- Description: They have rounded heads which are a bit flat on the top; this bird has a slim build, or can have a more robust stance. They have long beaks with small noses which are similar to those of what they call native pigeons
- Popular colors: Grizzle, Blue bar
4.The Chinese owl is a beautiful pigeon with elegance and class. The female stance is well-poised, and even the male, with its aggressive behavior, still manages to retain its elegance. Despite its name, they are unlikely to have originated in China. Due to the shortness of their beaks, many of the owl breeds have trouble feeding their young. Often, a sitter is used.
- Origin: Uncertain, possibly Spain and India
- Description: bountiful frilled feathers. Owl pigeons have very short beaks and rounded heads. They also have large bodies.
- Color: Black, blue bar orange or yellow, white
5.The African owl is my second favorite fancy pigeon. With a great personality. African owls have a strong confident stance. They are similar to the Chinese owl except that they have fewer chest feathers, larger heads, and bigger beaks.
- Origin: From Tunisia
- Size: Medium
- Description: The breed is known for its short and stout beak, which gives the breed the “Owl” name due to the size and shape. The African owl has a crest of feathers running down the front of its breast, The body of an African owl is short and plump.
- Popular colors: Orange, white, yellow
6.English Carrier – I never acquired an English carrier. They are quite suspicious with their actions and have a strong personality. The look weak because of their elongated features but once you get hold of them, you can feel how strong they are. Their sometimes creepy look makes them adorable.
- Origin: Developed in England
- Size: Large
- Description: They have long, slender bodies, with long necks in proportion with the rest of the body, and long legs. The largest of the flying pigeon breeds, the Old English Carrier was originally used for sending messages.
- Popular colors: Black, blue bar, red, white
7.German beauty – My favorite of all the large fancy pigeons, tender in appearance but packs a lot in personality. From my experience, because of the heavy body structure of the German beauty, it cannot fly high, which makes them ideal for bird shows.
- Origin: Germany
- Size: Large
- Description: It has a bullet shaped beak and a heavier neck than the English carrier.
- Colors: Black, red, yellow, and white, grizzled, checkered, blue bar, pied.
8.The Scandaroon – This is on my wish list. I find the Scandaroon a balance between a German beauty and an English carrier. I like the pied color which makes the scandaroon distinct. Thy are calm and quiet and make good parents.
- Origin: England or Persia
- Size: Large
- Description: It has a distinct beak that is long and curves downwards and a striking red eye cere. Big body and long legs.
- Colors: include white, black, blue, red and yellow.Pied
9.Oriental Frill – A fancy pigeon that makes me feel “feminine” because of its overall features. Pure elegance in every angle. They are not part of my wishlist but I was able to have the experience of taking care of them. The variety is divided into several variations in color and markings with Blondinettes and Satinettes being the most common.
- Origin: Turkey
- Size: Medium
- Description: Compact in body, heart-shaped, and has a proud stance profile. Clean eye structure. The “frill” part of the name comes from the ruff of feathers that runs from the neck to the chest. The more frills, the better it is.
- Colors: The wide range of colors and patterns are too many to mention, so let’s focus on:
- Satinettes are predominantly white in color, with colored wing shields and tail
- Blondinettes are completely colored with the exception of the shoulder and wing, which are concealed.
As mentioned earlier, there are more than 800 varieties of fancy pigeons. Each one is unique from the other. They have their own personalities, beauty, and even performance capability. Wait for future features of fancy pigeons such Nuns, Indian fantails, Egyptian swift, Modena, Lahore, pouters, and archangel. I can predict that I will not be able to feature all of them because of the continuous way in which new varieties are developed. No one will complain because of the joy the birds bring. The more, the merrier.
This appeared in Animal Scene’s December 2016 issue.