Pigeon literature - entertaining, but also useful for breeding

Sometimes I wished engaged breeders and opinion leaders in the clubs were a little better acquainted with the development of their breed and related breeds through past records. Then they could better assess and take into account development phases, progress and regression when planning the future of their breed. It would also be good to recognize when the own breed penetrates into the domain of other breeds through alleged 'breeding progress' and when identical things are propagated as something new under a different name.

If you happen to come across old illustrations and terms that are not used today, you should hope that you will find reference works in friends or in specialist libraries. Only then can we differentiate between brief sketches, visions, a lack of research when adopting claims and technical errors in drawings and authentic testimonials. Not everything that is old is correct. Today's fake news will also become old and therefore not correct. In the science of history, there are methods and principles that could be used to clarify also the credibility of pigeon literature.

Fig. 1: Taubenrasse, Entstehung, Herkunft und Verwandtschaften, Achim 2009 (Pigeon Breeds, a historical review with a discussion of  the important pigeon literature over the centuries)

Inadvertently, the incorrect translation of the then old German term 'Reüssian' and in later editions 'Reussisch' and synonymously 'gehößerlt' for rough or feather-footed in the German version in the bird book by Gessner 1557. Since the feather-footed pigeon drawn is not unlike today's Trumpeter Pigeons. Since then, the Trumpeters in the German literature have come from Russia at Bechstein 1807, Brehm 1857 and in subsequent literature. ‘Reüssisch’ became ‘russisch’ (Russian).

On the other hand, the invention of the porcelain-colored ice pigeons was a vision, which were so artistically depicted in the Schachtzabel in 1910 with white finches and a small dot on the tail feathers. The father of the thought was Hugo du Roi, who, after the foreword helped Schachtzabel and the artist to shape the visions. However, there were genetic incompatibilities in the way. This did not rule out that they were shown at exhibitions and rated as porcelain pigeons. The author of the ice pigeon part in Wittig (1925) already wrote that there were none. It was confirmed much later by the detection of 'porcelain pigeons' by the author, gifted before 1900 by Hugo du Roi in the Natural History Museum in Braunschweig. In the literature and the standard, the description by Schachtzabel was retained until the last decade.

Abb. 2: Ice- and Porcellain Pigeons in the vision of Schachtzabel (at the left) and in reality (at the right). Source: Sell, Taubenrassen (Pigeon Breeds), Achim 2009

Fig. 3: Porcelain Pigeons in the reality bevor 1900 from the property of Hugo Du Roi, source: Rassetauben, Achim 2009

Moore's attempt to connect the English carrier, whom he and his friends apparently loved so much, with the legend of a great messenger pigeon from the Turkish Empire was also intended, and associated with a fogging of the facts.


Fig. 4: Cover of the German language monograph ‚Brieftauben und ihre Verwandten‘ (Racing Homers and Relatives) and the route of the Arab Pigeon Post about 1450, and the cover of Pigeon Genetics

The newer knowledge about breeding methods, genetic linkages, correlations and incompatibilities are important for practical breeding. What breeders used to do in the past, and what they partially destroyed with unsuitable recipes, is now needed for just a few generations.


Fig. 5: Sell, Taubenzucht. Möglichkeiten und Grenzen züchterischer Gestaltung. Strukturen, Figuren, Verhalten, Zucht und Vererbung in Theorie und Praxis, Achim 2019 (Sell, Pigeon Breeding, Achim 2019)

It is not only important for practical breeding. Some knowledge about lethal and semi-lethal factors, relationships between color classes and the historical roots of color names like Almond would be desirable for the decision-makers with regard to standardization and recognition. In pigeons, too, not every color class is a separate breed, as genetic laymen often suspect.

www.taubensell.de 3. April 2020