Findings from accidental crosses with Gimpel-Pigeons

The first response of a reader to the picture of the cross-bred young created by cross-fertilisation was: 'for the frying pan'. Shortly afterwards, more thoughtful, 'also something to learn'. One could already learn that a week's isolation of the pair before egg-laying does not protect against another predator fertilising the egg. But there is more.


Gold Gimpel-couple with peak crested young by cross-fertilising. At the right the blackwing hen with her peak-crested young.

The search for the father

The search for the biological father is like a puzzle. At least it encourages flexibility of thought. The mother a gold-black-winged gimpel hen. The mated gold-blue-wing cock could not be the father. The gold tone of the gimpels does not degenerate like this in pure strains and the copper neck colour shows that the father was not dilute coloured. The mahogany colouring of the young gave further clues. In the wings recognisable a heterozygous ash-red male. Heterozygous, indicated by the black ink spots in the tail. Of the potential fathers, only an ashen (Spread Ash) Pomeranian Eye-Crested Highflyer came into question.



Indicators for the heterozygous ashen/black base colour in the young male. On the right with shell crest the Spread Ash biological father.  

The genetic explanation

The kitten is not a standard colour. When asked what to call the colour, one could say 'mahogany with bronze chest'. Genetically a spread ash, which is heterozygous for black.

Crosses in this random mating at the hereditary level.

For breeders, the young bird is the result of a single cross between an ashen Pomeranian and a Golden Gimpel. On the level of single hereditary factors at least five levels can be distinguished:

1. a pigeon with a round crest was crossed with a female pigeon with a peak crest.

2. a cross was made between a pure ash-red pigeon and a pigeon with a black base colour.

3. a 'non-diluted' cock was crossed with a golden hen diluted by 'Pale'. Reminder: Pale turns copper into gold in gimpels. The female pigeon has the factor sex-related single.

4. crossed was a pigeon without gimpel bronze with a pigeon with gimpel bronze.

5. a cock with spread was crossed, which the hen does not have.

Comparison of the appearance of the young with the theoretical expectations.

What is the result of these crossings in the mirror of experiences and expectations?

1. in the case of the head crest the result is a peak crested youngster. In the first scientific investigation of the relationship between peak and round or shell crest, Soedergaard in 1927 had still found a dominance of the round crest. Contrary observations were documented later. The peak crest thus did not surprise (2012, 2019), but there are apparently more complex relationships than assumed at the time.

2. heterozygous breed ash-red pigeons were to be expected. If more juveniles come from such a cross, then there will also be ash-red females, but these without ink spots.

3. pale as a recessive factor in this mating can only result in heterozygous pale cocks like the juvenile and will not show or only in a limited degree. This also has an effect on the gimpel bronze inherited the gold mother to the son.

4. gimpel bronze inherits dominantly. This is equally true when it occurs in copper gimpels and in gold gimpels. Gimpel bronze also asserts itself in matings with ashy pale. This was also known before. It is confirmed by the gimpel bronze in the neck area of the son. Bronze instead of gold because the son is only heterozygous for pale.

5. The colour spreading factor of the ashen father is dominant. This is shown by the overall bronze tone mahogany heterozygous son. Daughters from this mating could have been similarly dark ashy, but then not had the ink spots of the son. Something else is remarkable about him. The colour spread factor suppresses the gimpel bronze (epistasis) in matings with blacks. The offspring then is largely black. In the early phase of classical genetics this had led to the erroneous assumption of a recessive gimpel bronze. In ash red, and also here in mixed black/red base colour, gimpel bronze is less suppressed by spread than in black.

For breeders not familiar with the breeding of gimpel-pigeons, it is certainly particularly astonishing how strongly the type of the gimpel-pigeons with peak crest asserts itself in a first cross. The black and white gimpels mentioned by Goodall in England in 1924 probably originate from such crosses with tumblers. It is amazing already in the 1st generation, as the author has experienced several times in his own breeding

Fig. 356 in Pigeon Genetics. Gimpel Gold White-Wing x tigered short beaked Highflier hen with selected youngsters with Gimpel-Pigeon type from own breeding. Source: Sell, Pigeon Genetics, Applied Genetics in the Domestic Pigeon, Achim 2012.


The mahogany coloured ashy young with peak crest, bronze breast and neck has been produced by chance by cross-pollination. However, the inheritance process itself is not random, but follows predictably known laws of inheritance.



Sell, A., Taubenzucht. Möglichkeiten und Grenzen züchterischer Gestaltung, Achim 2019.

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