Red sprinkles and yellow sprinkles at Oriental Rollers

In 1926, there were no sprinkles in the German Breed Pigeon Standard. In the standard of 1951 they are called for the first time as two-color with white ground color and black, red or yellow sprinkling. Silver sprinkles with a silver-gray background and black flecks (sprinkles) were forgotten in 1951 when listing the colors. However, they were mentioned when naming the breed characteristics. They may, like black and multicolored, have a black beak tip as opposed to the other colors.

Recessive red with white factor as sprinkles after the standardization of sprinkles in the 1950s and 1960s

White with black spinkles has been around for a long time. The even distribution of colored sprinkles also influenced the idea of sprinkles in other colors. However, sprinkles with a uniform, intensely red or yellowish sprinkling throughout the entire body, including the wings and tail, probably never existed.


Oriental Roller white black sprinkle and the today white-red marked (Weiß-Rotgezeichnet)

Consciously in memory are the author ‘Redsprinkles’ from the 1960s from the shows in northern Germany. Still very young, in the wings still not molted young birds received high grades. Their older siblings had already evolved to white-flights, sometimes with some full-colored feathers. Genetically, it will have been Recessive Red endowed with a brightening factor. That caused the moaning of red youth plumage to white in large parts. Such a trait was still described by Christie and Wriedt in 1929.

White Ash Red (dominant red) sprinkles as an intermezzo around 2000

After 2000, top-breeders of multicolored Oriental Roller presented at the big shows genetically and phenotypical different red sprinkles. They were ash red with the stipple (or equivalent sprinkle) factor. The individuals presented by Horst Graefe 2005 at the National Poultry Show in Dortmund came closer with ashy splashes on a white background in the primaries and stronger red in shield and neck of the idea of 'red sprinkles' and were honored in the show report by the author. This positive assessment was not shared by everyone. It was denied by those responsible in the Special Club that the pigeons would not have red sprinkles, but ash. This was especially obvious in the wings and tail.


Oriental Roller white ash-red sprinkled and white ash red sprinkled cross breed from the own loft

Ash-red sprinkle cocks one already obtains from the first pairing of black sprinkles with Spread Ash, Ash red bars or checks. They are heterozygous for black pigment, which shows in sometimes only a few black feathers. Mating such a heterozygous cock with an ash red (Spread Ash, Ash-red bar etc.)  can with some luck already result in some homozygous ash-red sprinkles. Genetically the Color-locus and the stipple locus both are located on the sex chromosome and are therefore genetically linked. But they are so far apart that this linkage is often broken. Not only theory, but also in practice, as sprinkles from the test pairings with other breeds of the author show. Spread tends to have the effect of changing the base optically to white in the case of dominant red in combination with the stipple factor. Without the Spread factor and lacking color intensifying traits, the pigeons got a light creamy base. When enriched by the color intensifying 'modifiers' dominant red without Spread should be the basis for occasionally shown dominant red with the sprinkle trait (dominant red sprinkles), which are misleadingly also referred to as 'dominant red Almonds'. They have no white (or near to white) ground like the white dominant red sprinkles.

Those that felt responsible for the standard at that time still followed the illusion that you could raise from the mating with self reds easily red sprinkles with intense red sprinkles over the entire body. Black sprinkles can be obtained by pairing multicolored with self blacks and then selecting for distinct two-colored white with black sprinkles. This should also be possible by the mating of multicolored or black sprinkles with Recessive reds and producing homozygous recessive red St-individuals. But it is not! Recessive red with the stipple or sprinkle factor become DeRoy, much lighter than Red. The lightened wings and tail feathers are an obvious difference to yellow.


Oriental Roller DeRoy, Yellow and Red

This could be seen on the example of the English Short Faced Tumbler also in the Show Report for Dortmund 2005, and that could have been found even then in the relevant literature.

White-red marked and white-yellow marked as successors of red and yellow with white factors

After the rejection of the ash red sprinkles, further attempts were made to raise red sprinkles in the desired color by matching multicolored, black sprinkles, grizzles, red recessive with white factors and probably others, but without success. Often looks into the breeders’ loft and the existing colors give a better impression of the genetic factors involved than narratives.


View into a breeder’s loft for an assessment of potential genes in the flock, a DeRoy, a white red-marked and a blue grizzle


White Red-marked (the former recessive red ‘sprinkle’) from different German exhibitions

At a photo assembled a DeRoy, genetically homozygous red Recessive with the Stipper trait, a Recessive Red with white (or bleaching) factor and a blue grizzle. Even the intensive efforts did not lead to the hoped-for result, so that finally a renaming was made in agreement with the Federal Breeding Committee. However, the crosses and different hereditary factors have left their mark on the stocks and show up in the variance of the colorations still today. White primaries are expressly allowed in the standard description if individual full-colored feathers are also desired in between.

Revival of the ash red sprinkles?

If you follow recent reports from the US and Holland, then there still seems to be an interest in ash red sprinkles there. For the breed it would be positive, if the breeders inform about the genetic bases of their pigeons and participants in the discussion about standards are aware of the findings and controversies in the past.


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

Sell, A., Genetik der Taubenfärbungen, Achim 2015