Grizzles and Owlish at different Breeds

A special feature of Berlin Tumblers and some other breeds such as the German Long-Beaked Tumblers and Stettin Tumblers is the term owl-like or owlish for grizzles. Owlish, however, differ phenotypical in details from typical grizzle. The individual feathers in the shield are somewhat edged or laced, without being scaly or flaming, as Eugen Heyger = Berlin wrote in the anthology of Lavalle and Lietze 1905 (Fig. 1, 2). According to the Standard they are ‘peppery with a lighter or darker border, however without giving the impression of a distinct lacing’.


Fig. 1: Berlin Long Muffed Tumbler white tail Blue Owl at Lavalle and Lietze (1905), German Long Beaked Tumbler white tail white flight blue grizzle (owlish)

The similarity to owls (thus ‘eulig’ or owlish) with gray-white mixed-up plumage increases thereby. According to Heyger, the color of the head and neck should be the same as on the wing-covers (p. 342). As with the Prague 'Owls', from which the color was transferred, there are gradations in the color between darker and lighter owlish. At Stettin Tumblers – also related to Prague Tumblers - Schachtzabel 1910 in a first unofficial German Book of Pigeon Standards, distinguished between light and dark owlish, and in addition between white-breasted and others (Fig. 6, 7). For the differences to grizzles based on the wild type, modifiers that have not been investigated in detail until now are likely to be responsible. Dirty makes a difference too and underlines the owlish impression.

The optical whitish frame in the shield also appears in non-grizzles as was noted by Graham Manning from Australia for blue bar racing homers. The whitish frame was also shown in some bluish rubella bar homers. In other breeds, sooty, central patches in the shield feathers and also checks in combination with grizzle produce owlish effects as well (Fig. 5).


Fig. 2: Berlin Short Beaked Tumbler Blue and Blue Owlish

Just as blue bars become blue-owls by grizzle and the additional modifiers (Fig. 2), pearled individuals become 'pearl-owlish' (Fig. 3).


Fig. 3: Berlin Short Beaked Tumbler Pearl and Pearl Owlish

Owlish exist also at Berlin isabels (khaki-bars in other breeds). Those isabels are khaki grizzles plus modifiers (Fig. 4). Due to the affinity with the blue and pearl owlish they will possess the same modifying factors. However, they do not appear that way because of the light khaki basic color.


Fig. 4: Berlin Short Beaked Tumbler Isabel and Isabel Owlish

Brown bar and brown-bar owlish are not in the standard. However, they could easily be created by a systematic mating of Isabels or Isabel owls with blue bar owls. When mating the different colorations with each other, it should be noted that the brown base color of the Isabel is inherited sex-linked recessive. This also applies to the dilution factor of the pearly colors and the isabels, be they owlish or not. However, grizzle is not sex-linked (Sell, Pigeon Genetics 2012).

Interesting may be a comparative look at blue-grizzles in other breeds. So blue grizzles at Romagnoli like other typical grizzles do not show the edging of the feathers in the shield (Fig. 5). Owly-like sometimes appear light checkered grizzles and also grizzle bars with the sooty trait, a dark central spot on the individual shield feathers. That is shown at the blue German Long-Beaked White-tailed White-Flight, a blue grizzle Portuguese Tumbler and a blue grizzled Show Homer (Fig. 5).


Fig. 5: Blue grizzle Romagnoli, German Long Beaked Tumbler blue white tail white flight with sooty-flecks, Portuguese Tumbler grizzle with sooty flecks, blue-grizzle Show Homer

In Stettin Tumblers in the standard today both, blue owlish and blue grizzles, are recognized side by side. Interesting in the 1910 standard the enumeration of colors with the differentiation of ‘owlish’ light and dark, and both white-breasted. The today grizzles in the standard probably were the light blue owlish in the standard from 1910 and still 1954.


Fig. 6: Stettin Tumblers at Schachtzabel 1910, reprinted in Sell, Pommersche Taubenrassen. Naturdenkmale aus Pommern – Pigeon Breeds from Pomerania (German language with English Summary for the breeds discussed), Achim 2010.

The presentation should have shown that different names for color classes in pigeon breeds do not always have to do with a regional deviating terminology only. They occasionally indicate small differences that are genetic and the common heritage of related breeds. If you want to understand certain specific colors and meet them in the assessment at shows and breeding orientation, then it is not only useful, but also indispensable to deal with the development of the respective breeds and historical relationships.


Fig. 7: Cover of ‘Pommersche Taubenrassen’. Pigeon Breeds from Pomerania, German language with English summary and standards for the breeds discussed.


Klein, Erich, Berliner Tümmlerrassen, Chemnitz 1920.

Lavalle, A., und M. Lietze (eds.), Die Taubenrassen, Berlin 1905.

Schachtzabel, E., Illustriertes Prachtwerk sämtlicher Taubenrassen, Würzburg o.J. (1910).

Sell, Axel, Genetik der Taubenfärbungen, Achim 2015.

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

Sell, Axel, Pommersche Taubenrassen. Pigeon Breeds from Pomerania, Achim 2010.