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
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
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
Vogtländer Trumpeter blue bar and blue check – heterozygous white
The list of 'white heads' discussed here is far from complete, even
not in the attached table with a listing of numerous similar
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
Sell, Axel, Genetik der Taubenfärbungen, Achim 2015.
Sell, Axel, Pigeon Genetics. Applied Genetics in the Domestic
Pigeon, Achim 2012.