The agate gemstone as the namesake for pigeon coloring. Some pigeon colors are named after gemstones. Typical for most agates as jewelry are stripe-shaped, color-contrasting deposits. There are also unstriped and uniform-colored agates. The color palette is wide and ranges from white to black. In between are 'Pigeon Blood Agates', or more simply 'Red Agates', named after the color of clotted blood.



Fig. 1: Agate stone and red agate slice (own figure).

In the 'Treatise on Domestic Pigeons' published anonymously in London in 1765, the word Agate is not used in the discussion of English short-faced tumblers. Eaton, on the other hand, used the term in 1851, almost 90 years later when describing the breeding of the Almond Tumbler, in the wide range of colors. Purebred white young from Almond breeding, in which he describes the genetic eye defects, are white agates for him. He knows them, but like many today's breeders not their cause. Black tigers (mottles) are black agates for him. He also listed red and yellow agates, which are essential components in the breeding of Almond Tumblers.


Fig. 2: Red Agate English Short Faced Tumbler und a Red-Agate hen, a Kite hen and an Almond cock. Source: Sell, Pigeon Genetics, Achin 2012.

In his day, breeders still believed that black mottles could be successfully used to breed Almond tumblers. They did not know that the white markings on black and dun-colored pigeons were genetically due to different hereditary factors than the white markings on reds and yellows. The proportion of well-colored almonds was correspondingly negligible. Another 50 years later, at the time of Fulton (1876), this error was recognized and blacks were banned from Almond breeding. 140 years after the writing of Fulton, they reappeared at shows and reports from the lofts, based on the names used by Eaton.

Abb. 3: Revival of Mottles as Dun Agate, and black Mottles at Tegetmeier 1868.

Not as in the standards as tigers or rosette tigers, but as dun agates and also black agates. There may be efforts to standardize terms in pigeon breeding and genetics, but there are obviously always nostalgics who do not want to let old terms be forgotten. There are also jokers who test the flexibility and literary memory of the breeders.


Anonymous, A Treatise on Domestic Pigeons, London, 1765.

Eaton, John Matthews, A Treatise on the Art of Breeding and Managing the Almond Tumbler, London 1851.

Fulton, R., The Illustrated Book of Pigeons, London, Paris, New York and Melbourne 1876.

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

Tegetmeier, W.B., Pigeons: Their Structure, Varieties, Habits, and Management, London 1868.