Almond, stipper and sprinkle in the domestic pigeon.
On confusion of terms and their causes
For many pigeon fanciers of the 19th century, the Almond Tumbler, as
far as pigeon breeding is concerned, was the culmination of
creation. This is also, but not only related to the unique Almond
color over the body and the cover feathers of the wing with tri-colored
primaries and tail feathers as well as even distributed dark
splashes on the entire plumage. Stippers and sprinkles have common
genetic factors with Almonds. Almonds can also be considered
genetically as a variant. So you can develop stippers and sprinkles
from Almonds by elimination color factors by crosses and create
Almonds from stippers and sprinkles by adding color factors.
However, today almost everything that looks colorful is now called
Almond in some pigeon fancier forums. This even applies to white
pigeons with black splashes, which are given the self-contradicting
term 'black Almonds'. Ignorance, but which has more recent causes,
which are discussed here.
Almonds in classical literature and the distinction between
multicolored and sprinkles (stippers)
The first monographs on a single pigeon breed were dedicated to the
Almond Tumbler, in England in 1802 by Windus and in 1851 by Eaton.
The importance of the yellow-brown Almond color to the breeders,
among other characteristics, is evident from the fact that the first
public pigeon show in England was held in 1848 by the
Philoperisteron Society in order to resolve the differences between
the 'gentlemen' about the correct coloring of the Almond Tumbler
(Kate Whiston 2017).
Fig. 1: Almondtumbler and the Almond color at Eaton 1851. Not only
the almond color is important. In primaries and tail feathers the
required sprinkles are shown very distinct in this case. Source:
Eaton, A Treatise on the Art of Breeding and Managing the Almond
Tumbler 1851, Sell, Genetik der Taubenfärbungen 2015
Stipper and sprinkle are synonymous for the black or dark gray
splashes (flecks) that appear in the Almonds on almond-colored
ground in the body plumage and on the three-colored wing and tail
feathers. These splashes are available in other breeds also on an
overall white or silvery plumage. In Europe pigeons with that
coloration have long been referred to as sprinkles or stippers, such
as gray stippers for Danish Tumblers and black sprinkles for roller
pigeons. If the basic color cannot be clearly determined, it is
Fig. 2: Multicolored Oriental Roller at Spruyt. At the right in
today’s terminology a black sprinkle, or more exact in the
terminology of Christie and Wright a white black sprinkled Roller.
Spruyt, De tuimelarrassen 1935.
Fig. 3: Danish Tumbler with almond base color at the left and white
blue sprinkled and white black sprinked Pomeranian Eye Crested
Highfliers created in the own loft by elimination color traits
through outcrossing. Soruce: Sell, Taubenzucht. Möglichkeiten und
Grenzen züchterischer Gestaltung, Achim 2019.
Now what if white or almost white pigeons with black and sometimes a
few yellow splashes are referred to as black Almonds or Almonds on
social media? It's also, but not just self-inflicted ignorance as
will be outlined in the following.
Analysis of sprinkles (stippers)
In the first genetic analysis of Almonds, the Norwegians Wriedt and
Christie (1925) dealt with the colour rather casually. They were
mainly interested in the inheritance of sprinkling (stippers). They
examined Danish stippers that came from English Almond Tumblers (Prütz
1885). The stipple factor common to the phenotypical brown, light
brown and white stipper variants was symbolized with St.
Fig. 4: Photos from pigeons used in the genetic analysis by Wriedt
und Christie (1925). White black sprinkled (upper line) and light
brown gray-sprinkled (below) and demonstration of the darkening
effect with age.
They were only marginally interested in the Almond coloring, most
similar in their assessment with the light brown-gray stippers. They
describe the interaction with kites and recessive red rather
casually, as if it were nothing special. They also found the genetic
code for DeRoy and diluted DeRoy.
Why in some forums today the name Almond for gray stippers, black
sprinkles and other variants that do not show any almond color?
Mid of the 20th century, pigeon genetics in the pigeon fancy only
existed in the USA. The breeders only knew the English Almond
Tumblers as a sprinkled pigeons. So in the influential book 'The
Pigeon' (1st edition 1941) by Levi, in my edition from 1969, a
sprinkle with a light silver base color from Switzerland is still
called 'spangled'. In the Enzyclopedia of Pigeon Breeds from 1965, a
white, black-sprinkled Oriental Roller from Switzerland is referred
to as 'Black Almond'. So, understandably, when mediating the
inheritance at Almonds, as a didactic 'crutch' the Stipper factor
became the Almond factor. It is the factor that is
indispensable for standard coloring of the Almond Tumbler. This
parable socialized generations of breeders interested in genetics,
including the writer, around the world. No problem for the USA at
the beginning because there were no other variants with the St-gene.
No problem for Europe either, because the different types with
sprinkles, two-colored, multi-colored etc. had firmly anchored color
code names. The absurdity and distance from logic is only now
becoming clear when German fans in international pigeon breeders
groups start writing about black and white Almonds where we have
other established names in the fancy and standards.
The names at Wriedt and Christie
Wriedt and Christie had suggestions for naming the variants 100
years ago, but they were not followed. They differentiate between
browns with black sprinkles, light browns with gray sprinkles and
whites with black sprinkles according to the basic optical color
that characterizes the appearance. Here you can easily accommodate
the almost white, silvery ones with black sprinkles (today's at
Oriental Rollers silver sprinkles), who were considered by the
authors a modification of the white ones and not an allele. The term
'brown' is to be used with caution, because genetically they have
the black base color with modifications by bronze. They also knew
intermediate colors, which are recognized as multicolored in many
breeds in Germany and other countries, however as Almonds today in
The result is an example of how didactic crutches learn to walk
themselves and move in a different direction than intended. Or from
classical literature: “I don't ban ghosts I called”.
Eaton, J.M., A Treatise on the Art of Breeding and Managing the
Almond Tumbler, London 1851.
Sell, Axel, Pigeon Genetics. Applied Genetics in the Domestic
Pigeon, Achim 2012.
Sell, Axel, Genetik der Taubenfärbungen, Achim 2015.
Sell, Axel, Taubenzucht. Möglichkeiten und Grenzen züchterischer
Gestaltung, Achim 2019.
Spruyt, C.A.M., De Tuimelaarrassen, Volledige Beschrijving van alle
Rassen met uitvoerigen Staandaard, Gouda 1935.
Whiston, Kate, Pigeon geographies: aesthetics, organisation, and
athleticism in British pigeon fancying, c. 1850-1939.
PhD thesis, University of Nottingham 2017
Wriedt, C. / W. Christie, Zur Genetik der gesprenkelten Haustaube.
Zeitschrift für induktive Abstammungs- und Vererbungslehre 38
(1925), pp. 271-306.