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 multicolored.


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. Source: 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 USA.


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.