Baldheads, White Heads, Monks and White-headed Patch Pied and similar pied markings in the Domestic Pigeon


The Baldhead pigeon is well known since the magnificent pictures of Fulton 1876 with English Short-Faced Tumblers: Pearl eyed with white head and relatively high cut, white primaries, white tail and belly. The term was also understood in Germany. Nevertheless, the regional name 'white head' has been retained for ‘Elbinger Weissköpfe’ and related breeds with the baldhead marking.


Baldhead in the ‚Illustrated Book of Pigeons‘ of Fulton 1876 und Elbing ‘Weißköpfe’ with the  Baldhead-Marking (at the right in the upper line) in the ‘Illustrirten Mustertaubenbuch’ of Gustav Prütz 1885.

White heads

The term 'white head' can be found in Germany not only as a misnomer for the Elbing Tumbler and related breeds, but also for Thuringian White Heads that are phenotypical not Baldheads. They show a white head with white tail, but colored primaries. Unlike baldheads, the eyes are dark and the belly is colored. Such pieds in a direct translation are also called 'White Head' in the English-speaking world, as in the standard work 'Encyclopedia of Pigeon Breeds' by Wendell M. Levi in ​​1965 to convince yourself. Thus the term should not be uncommon in the English speaking countries.


Thuringian White Head red and black

Monks 1st kind

The monk-marking of South German and Saxon Color Pigeons differs from baldheads by the dark eye and colored belly. As in Baldheads primaries and tail are white. You can find them also in Swiss Color Pigeons. The term monk was still literally translated as 'Monk Pigeon' by Lyell in 1881 in his ‘Fancy Pigeons’ (p. 93). In the breeding pen, this pied marking is more stable, more reliable than the more varied Baldhead marking.


Saxon Monk blue white bar and South German Monk blue laced

Monks 2nd kind (White Heads white Flights)

There is a second Monk Marking in the German Standard, white heads with white primaries, but colored tail. They exist in Color Pigeons, but also in Pouters and other breeds. These have, like ‘White Heads’ and Monks of the first kind, dark eyes and colored belly. At Gimpel Pigeons they were renamed some years ago into 'White-Heads', but not yet with consequences for the classification at shows. Such a 'monk' can be found on the cover of the book 'Genetik der Taubenfärbungen'



Gimpel gold blackwing monked, Gimpel copper blackwing monked (monk type 2 with colored tail)

Patch Pieds – Irregular Pied Marking

Patch Pied show irregular distributed colored patches at white ground or vice versa. Often they are provided with a larger white bib and also with partly or in total white tails and flights. The author had them in Racing Homers, Uzbek Tumblers and knows them from other races.


Patch Pieds at Uzbek Tumblers and Duneks

Vogtländer Trumpeter and other pieds

Vogtländer Trumpeters show a white head combined with white wings (and, since muffed, white muffs) and otherwise colored body. The white-headed individuals mated together inherit not true but split up in self white, selfs in another color, and the standard pied marking.


Vogtländer Trumpeter blue bar and blue check – heterozygous white head marking

The list of 'white heads' discussed here is far from complete, even not in the attached table with a listing of numerous similar markings.

Extensive research on the genetics of the white head

Out of historical reasons in Germany many terms to name colors and markings are not clear. In the standard descriptions, the partially different regional names have been adopted for individual breeds. Christie and Wriedt had examined pied markings in the 1920s, detailing more than 400 F1, F2 and back-crosses alone in pieds. In tables so accurate that readers could follow their conclusions, but could may also come to different results. One of their ideas was that the white parts in a pied marking could look like a jigsaw puzzle in which hereditary factors for a white head, white tail, white wings, white shield, white belly, etc., work together to produce different pied patterns, depending on the factor combination. Although they included only part of the known pieds with white heads in the analysis, they had to accept more than one factor as a potential trigger for individual feather parts, so as not to run into logical contradictions. Linkages and epistatic effects were discussed. They were not completely satisfied with their result and had announced further investigations in 1927, to which they did not come any longer.

Baldhead as a term for a historic pied marking - not a suitable term for genetic analysis

Lester Paul Gibson (2005) has taken up the basic idea of Christie and Wriedt of a rather simple pied puzzle. That there the white head is referred to as 'Baldhead', have taken some too literally in the following. The results at Christie and Wriedt and also the extensive reports on white heads in other pied variants in other sources show that there is a very different inheritance in many white head variants. This has been documented for many piebalds in 'Pigeon Genetics' and ‘Genetik der Taubenfärbungen’. It was not the aim of that documentation to support a uniform hereditary formula for the white head. It shows, after all, facts and experiences that should not be discarded when searching for satisfying explanations of the genetics of pied markings. And it shows that there is no reason from a genetic perspective to give up the term Baldhead marking at the English Short Faced Tumbler and other breeds in that phenotype, and call anything that has a white head Baldhead. For genetic follow-up that would be rather harmful.


Christie, W. und Chr. Wriedt, Charaktere bei der Perückentaube, dem Kalottentümmler und dem Brünner Kröp­fer, Zeitschrift für induktive Abstammungs- und Vererbungslehre 1927, S. 334-367.

Christie, W. und Chr. Wriedt, Die Vererbung von Zeichnungen, Farben und anderen Charakteren bei Tauben, Zeitschrift für induktive Abstammungs- und Vererbungslehre 32 (1923), S. 233-298.

Gibson, L.P., Genetics of Pigeons, o.O., 2005; Genetics of Pigeons. Columba livia (Gmelin), Plain City, Ohio, USA 1993 (manuscript with exten­sive color plates).

Levi, W.M., Encyclopedia of Pigeon Breeds. Jersey City, New Jersey 1965.

Sell, Axel, Genetik der Taubenfärbungen, Achim 2015.

Sell, Axel, Pigeon Genetics. Applied Genetics in the Domestic Pigeon, Achim 2012.