Pigeon colors in standards and in the not
Taubenfärbungen in Musterbeschreibungen und in
What color is that? For
pigeon breeders who have grown up in pigeon and poultry breeder
clubs and are influenced by the exhibition activities, a strange
question. You look at the standard and compare. For Almond e.g. you
read "an almond-colored ground with black sprinkles or stipples,
primaries and tail tricolor". If the deviations from the standard
are great, then it is no longer a bad Almond, but an unrecognized
color. For some colors, standard experts must also fit. Pigeons with
the meanwhile well-diffused gene 'Rubella' are not known by the
standard. Platinum is in combination with the Spread factor in the
standard, the bar and check variant not. An early statement from the
experts was ‘false color’, a 'color deviation, worth for nothing.
In the meantime, beyond the
exhibition scene, a scene has developed in which there is an
interest in rare colors and not least in the "false color-class" to
take it with humour. It is worn by former racing pigeon lovers and
high flyer and roller enthusiasts, who usually do not know any
standards and are only vaguely informed about genetic backgrounds.
When asked which color is that, it will be best and most appropriate
to answer, a beautiful one. Because it will rarely meet the
requirements of the description for any exhibition class.
Opal e.g. is an attractive
name. Opal as a gemstone is appreciated by the brightly colorful and
dazzling color play of precious opal. However, there are only three
color classes with the genetic factor Dominant Opal in the pigeon
standards. And they already existed, before it was known that there
was a genetic factor Dominant Opal behind the standardized colors.
The trait was analysed and named by W.F. Hollander in 1938. Standard
colors are light blue with white bars, light blue white laced and
Fig. 1: Field Color Pigeons
Light blue white bar, Light blue white laced and isabell white bar
The opal colors beyond the
exhibitor scene are closer to the brightly colored and dazzling
color play of the opals than the standard colors. Often also by
being "spiced up" with additional modifying genes.
Fig 2: Giant Homer, at Levi
1965 ‚dun-laced (dilute Dominant Opal, T-pattern), at the right
Show Racer Dominant Opal light yellow-reddish lacing
Thus, by adding the factor
indigo, that (shall) lead to 'Opalusian'. 'Shall' in parentheses,
because the Spread factor also present at Andalusians after the
experience in other combinations could rather suppress the color
play. With many genetic factors in the loft, it is no longer
possible to control what is involved in a pigeon and what is not.
Supplemented by grizzle and the pied trait, the spectrum can lead to
'Opalusian grizzle pieds'. Further extensions are possible. Standard
authorities would be overwhelmed, for each variant to form a class
or even to find a catchy name for it.
At the stipple factor
matters are similar. In the standards and at exhibitions there is
the stipple factor e.g. at English Short Faced Tumblers. For a while
in Germany the breed was called English Almond Tumbler and the
complementary colors considered means to an end.
Fig. 3: English Short Faced
The trait exist at the
Modenese Pigeons as Magnani or multi-colored, in Oriental Rollers as
multi-colored and in addition as white-black sprinkes,
white-blue-sprinkles and silver-black sprinkles. Silver and white
black-sprinkles are considered to differ due to modifiers. Often
also for the multi-colored class we are not sure whether alleles of
St or modifyers are at work. For Danish Tumblers the standard
enumerates brown, yellow and gray stipper. This designation of the
Danish Tumblers regularly leads to misunderstandings, because they
are genetically not brown and not yellow.
Fig. 4: Multi-colored
variants at German Modeneser and Italian Owl
Fig. 5: Multi-colored
variants at Oriental Roller
Fig. 6: White-black
sprinkled and silver-black sprinkled at Oriental Roller
The name Stipple or Sprinkle
does not seem to have a high profile for breeders. Thus many
fanciers declare all pigeons that have the stipple factor as Almonds
instead of Stipples. And that also when the almond color is totally
missing. Christie and Wriedt, who first genetically tested the
stipple factor and reported about their findings in 1925, did not
call the factor Almond as some may believe, but sprinkle or stipple
with the symbol St. According to their scheme, Almonds like the
English short Faced were brown-black sprinkles, and light brown-gray
sprinkles as dilutes. In addition, they distinguished stipples with
a white ground as white-black sprinkles. Intermediate types, which
make up most stippled birds beyond the exhibition scene today, were
also known to them.
At the illogical naming of
the intermediate types, e.g. as black Almonds (either they are black
or they are almond-colored), the literature is not innocent. At
times, not only the Almond color was famous, but also the term
Almond was used for the gene instead of stipple introduced by
Christie and Wriedt. As an excuse and explanation it can be stated
that at that time apart from the English Short Faced Tumbler hardly
any other breeds with the Stipple gene was well known. Árpád Cséplő
from Hungary was probably the first who prophesied to us, and also
to the author, that the lax handling of the terms would still hurt
us. And he was right.
Double and triple
Beginners often have
difficulties to understand that a pigeon color is the combinations
of many inherited factors at the same time. Not just for the base
color and pattern, but for many more. A pigeon can have the factor
Dominant Opal and at the same time the stipple factor. In addition,
the indigo factor, grizzle etc. Therefore, simultaneous assignments
to the group of opal variants and stipple variants are possible.
Perhaps the introduction of a more open-minded AOC-class at the
shows would be a way also to integrate fanciers that not yet
participate. The playful and joyful element perhaps would be back
again. Pigeon breeding is finally a hobby.
Some breeders have tried to
build a bridge between exhibition breeders and others. They have
called the Almonds according to the standard description and
classical literature (Fulton 1876, Lyell 1881) as 'classic Almonds'.
Similar variants would then be simple Almonds. These are something
like Almonds 2nd class. One uses the brand, Almond ', without at the
same time meeting all quality criteria.
This already de facto was
done in part in some standards, only that one has called the second
variant 'multi-colored'. Names are not insignificant, as not only
marketing experts know. From the renaming of the 'Silver King' to
mealy brown bar, the color class has never really recovered. In the
Oriental Rollers, for example, the Americans have renamed their
former multi-colored to 'Almonds', even though very few pigeons met
the standard requirements of the 'classic' Almonds. Perhaps a
reflection on the traditional name 'Magnani' used by the Modenese
breeds or on an early name as 'Harlequin' could be useful. May be
these will find more acceptance.
Levi, W. M., Encyclopedia of
Pigeon Breeds, Jersey City 1965
Sell, Axel, Genetik der Taubenfärbungen, Achim
Sell, Axel, Pigeon Genetics.
Applied Genetics in the Domestic Pigeon, Achim 2015