Beak length in the domestic pigeon in the focus of  interest

Though a pigeon breeder since long I am always surprised at how quickly and distinct some recessive traits show up in a backcross to the partner with the recessive traits. That was confirmed again in the current Owl crosses at the own loft. Photos are better than many words. Interesting to see the correct frill at the hen and the fine pied marking in the bothyoungsters shown and most of the other youngsters of the backcross, but that is not the topic here.


Progeny from the first backcross upon Old German Owls after a cross with a self highflyer cock

The photos show a cock and a hen from such a backcross to Old German Owls . The grandparents were a self Pomeranian Eye Crested Highflyer cock  and a yellow Owl hen.  The progeny  (F1) lacked the owls' frill, and the beak length was intermediate between the parents. The backcross sometimes is abbreviated in English language BC, and the both youngsters shown thus could be indicated as BC1. By the way, fanciers often do not make the difference between BC1 and F2, and thus make their reports worthless for those interested in the topic because it is often not possible to get what was meant.


First cross of a Pomeranian Eye Crested Highflyer cock and an Old German Owl hen (at the left) and backcross of a son of the F1 upon an Old German Owl hen (at the right)

The results of the current crosses confirmed what was known about the inheritance of beak length from former studies. About the inheritance of beak length one is well informed by great scientific studies. Traditionally it has been worked with test mating and analysis of F1, F2 and mutual back crosses. The Norwegians Christie Wriedt had for their investigation of the short beak at Norwegian Petents (Schildmövchen) made measurements at 330 pigeons. The author had measured for his investigation of the short beak at highflyers over 100 crossbreds. These and other studies and to be drawn conclusions for breeding strategies are documented at length in the book 'Pigeon Genetics'.

The present owl crosses confirm on a smaller database, the results of the Norwegian scientists. It will be interesting to see the results of the planned molecular genetic studies of the University of Utah in respect to beak length. Short beaked Tumblers or Highfliers and Owls were often crossed together in the past. It is therefore assumed that both breed groups owe the shortness of the beak the same genetic traits. Would be interesting to see whether that proofs right or wrong. Even more interesting would be to learn  this way a little more about the genetic background of the many intermediate types in the beak length in the domestic pigeon.


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

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