Another fine article from Nick Sider’s archives.
This section is a quick snap shot of performance pigeon breeds.
Performance breeds are in the minority when it comes to the overall number of pigeon breeds. This list is not all conclusive of performance breeds.
This is a category of performance pigeons that neither tumbles, rolls, nor are they considered highfliers. It is not a racing bird nor is it a pouter. It is a bird that usually flies singularly or in small groups and not as part of a kit. It does fly quick; flying fast does not properly describe what it obtains. When flying it may make barrel rolls; loops, and zig-zags at break-neck speed. Then on a command or a drop bird by the owner the bird will dive to its loft location and land as quickly as it can achieve without harm to itself.
Many of these birds are used in a sport of evading birds of prey or capture by luring them into a trapping situation. This activity is done with less frequency than it once was and the evasion of birds of prey only occurs by accidental meetings generally in present day. It is also a bird that some breeders use to discourage birds of prey from attacking their breed of choice. They allow the Diver to fly first hoping to bring the bird of prey from his perch or flight to give chase. The bird of prey not being able to catch the Diver becomes discouraged and flies from the area or flies into a waited trap chasing the diving pigeon. At this time the breeder will release the breed of his choice having less fear of losing any to the birds of prey.. .
The following is a list of Divers along with descriptions of some.:
Doneks – There are two types; one is the Turkish breed that is found with no head adornment and are clean legged. The second is called a Macedonian which may have feathered legs or partially feathered legs. They hail from the Czech area of the world. Their performance and level of performance are similar. They are a medium size breed; smaller than the Dewlap, but larger than the Escampadissa Roller. During flight they can do barrel type rolls or fly in large loops and they do this at great speed. Upon an audible signal or a drop bird will dive toward the loft with breakneck speed and pulling up just in time to land safely.
Dewlaps – Dewlaps are a strong bird, hard-feathered, alert, a superb flier. They are a medium to large size bird weighing about 20 ounces on the average. They are plain headed and clean legged and get their name from the large gullet, or dewlap, from which it gets its English name. They come in a large variety of colors. It is believed that they come from Syria or near by Lebanon
Escampadissa Rollers – They are a Spanish developed breed. It is a very old breed that originated from the Oriental Roller. It is a solo flier especially raised and trained to dodge birds of prey. It is small, averaging about 10 to 12 ounces and is plain headed and clean legged with no oil gland. Comes in in several colors, but like all performance breeds colors mean nothing and are unimportant.
Kelebeks –Kelebeks unlike many other Turkish Tumblers are known as Kelebeks throughout Turkey. Kelebeks perform every trick done by all diving breeds but, with ease and in a longer performance full of flight. In fact some even add a few tumbles to their performance. Their main quality is that they fly alone. When flown together, they fly like swarm of bees in the air. They get their name from the flying action they possess. In the Turkish language kelebrek means butterfly. Their landings tend to be on the rough side. They are smaller than Doneks and may be the best of all Turkish Tumblers or divers because of their staying power of flight and performance.
The following breeds are part of that Turkish Tumbler and Greek Divers that have different names depending which part of Turkey they are found. Some of these names may be the same bird and our research has not gotten involved totally in all Turkish Tumblers and Divers.
There are several breeds that carry the title of being a tumbler that do not tumble. Most of which did at one time perform as a tumbler, but through breeding selections the ability to perform was bred out of them. There are some breeds that were called tumblers that there is no evidence that they actually ever performed.
Tumbling is the act of turning a backward somersault while flying. It is a trait that is admired by many and a lot of the breeding activity is to improve upon this trait. Where the first tumblers came from is unknown because some of the breeds are so ancient they started before history was being written and recorded. There are many breeds who are called tumblers, but do not tumble. Some have had the performance bred out of them for show and exhibition only; while others do not tumble, but are noted as highflier. For those birds they will be listed in the Highflier category.
The following is a list of performance tumblers many of which are rare in the United States and may not occur at all:
Komorner Tumbler – A performing breed that is also an exhibition breed. It is a clean legged crested bird. Is growing in popularity in the U.S. as an exhibition bird
Parlor Tumbler – Parlor Tumblers are not a flying breed, but are performers and there are competitions held. The bird will do a backward somersault while standing and leaping up from the floor; landing right back down on its feet at same spot. The bird can either do one or two backward flips. There is another similar class that rolls on the ground for sometimes hundreds of feet. Those birds we have classified as Parlor Rollers
Berlin Long-Faced Tumbler – Both a flying and exhibition bird. Once called “Nail Face” because of its head shape. Rare in the U.S.
Australian Saddleback Tumbler– Almost unknown outside of Australia. Although it is bred primarily for show it is said to tumble or roll very well.
Botosani Tumbler – It is a kit flier and a good tumbler. Has long wings reaching to the tip of their tail. Medium height flier. Has a beak rosette or is double-crested and its legs are either groused or lightly muffed. Very rare in the U.S.
Catalonian Tumbler – It is rare to find a “Cat” that performs in the United States. The performance has been bred out of them. Performers can be found in Canada and Europe, but there they are also becoming more and more rare as a performer. A very handsome bird in good proportions and the lack of performance may be good reason it is not as popular as it could be in the U.S.
Cologne Tumbler – A very robust bird and flier probably because it has been crossed with Homers awhile back. Comes in two varieties; one is muffed the other is clean legged. It is rare in the United States though the breed is thought to be centuries old.
Gumbinnen Tumbler – An energetic tumbler that is also being exhibited. It is clean legged with a shell crest or plain headed. Very rare in the United States.
Koros Tumbler– A flying breed with wings carried under the tail. The selfs are medium face the Gansel-like are long faced. Not common in the U.S.
Markische Magpie Tumbler – It is muffed footed with a shell crest and is surprisingly rare in the United States. It is a small bird that is a pretty good flier and is being exhibited in Europe.
Old German Magpie Tumbler – A very old breed that goes back to the 1600’s. It is a performing tumbler that does not fly very high. It is plain headed and clean legged. It is very rare in the United States.
Yassy Tumbler – From the Romanian family of tumblers; Kiev; Transylvania; and Yassy. The Kiev and Yassy are good performers that fly a medium height. The Transylvania Tumbler is now an exhibition birds only. None of these birds are found in the United States.
Old Dutch Tumbler – As the name suggests the breed originated in Holland over two centuries ago. A low flier that flies in “troops” or kits that circles all of the time just above the roof tops and will change direction is a split second. When a bird tumbles it will immediately rush back to the troop (kit) and return flying with them.
Portuguese Tumbler – A performance breed that is very popular in its country of origin and may not even be in the United States. It is an old breed that was probably created from English and French tumblers.
Posen Colored Head Tumbler – Tumbling and rolling breed. It is shell-crested and clean legged. Rare in the United States.
Satu-Mare Spangled Magpie Purzler Tumbler – A good performing tumbler. It is shell-crested and clean legged. Very scarce in the United States.
Syrian Coop Tumbler – A performance breed whose performance ranks between a Birmingham Roller and the Parlor Tumbler. Going from the floor to the nest will perform 2 or 3 backward somersaults and released from the hand will do the same going to the floor. When making a level flight it does not perform except to fly.. Very docile and gentle breed.
Syrian Sabuni Tumbler – A free flying tumbler. It is plain headed with small muffed feet. The word “sabuni” means “soapy” which is probably applied because of its color. Other than its color it has a very close resemblance to the Shakhsharli
Timisoara Tumbler – A good performer and is extremely rare in the United States. It is shell-crested and clean legged.
Flying West of England Tumbler – Finding a performing specimen may be difficult now days in the United States. It is a highflier that flies for long durations. Not more than three revolutions is desired and deeper rolling individuals are usually culled. Popular in Southern California and hardly known in the eastern half of the United States. A handsome bird.
Elbinger Tumbler – A highflying bird the tumbles. Plain headed and clean legged with a short beak.
Sherazi or Shakhsharli Tumbler – A flying tumbler. It was expected to gain a wide popularity in the United States, but that didn’t happen.
East Prussian Roller – A performing tumbler making 3 or 4 backward somersaults in succession. Very scarce in the United States.
This is a general group of pigeons that are recognized as flyers, but not Highfliers, Tumblers, Rollers, Divers, Racing Homers, or Sporting Pouters. They are not show or exhibition birds nor are they Utility or Field Birds. In the United States there is no known competitions for them.
We feel they deserve or require a word of recognition:
Taqlaji – A very nice looking bird and is somewhat small averaging about 13 ounces. It is a neat bird with tight feathering. Probably originated in Syria. It is clean legged with a small crest and tufted mane. Some have a nasal tuft usually coming from yellows or reds in color. I have never seen one in the U.S.
Syrian Bagdad – Very old breed that is large, averaging about 23 ounces. It is tall with very powerful wings and the feathering is hard and tight. It is normally found having clean legs and a plain head. There is an occasional small crest. I have seen them in the U.S. and they have been used as racers, but not to any noted success. Probably did not origanate in Syria, but they have been bred there for centuries.
Spanish Barb – A flying breed. It is a poor feeder and breeder. It is basically the pigmy of the large Flamenca Runt.
Indian Gola – A very old flying breed and probably does not exist in the United States. Its “blood” is in the Indian Mondain and probably in the American strain of the French Mondain.
Lebanon – Origin is not certain, but it stands to reason it is either from Syria or nearby Lebanon. It is related to the Dewlaps, but has a less pronounced gullet and some of the markings are absent. It is medium size of about 20 ounces average. It possess no ornaments. They have been crossed into several breeds in the U.S., but are still rare in their pure state.
Rhine Ringbeater – A wing clapper. Its origin is Germany and is a small breed averaging about 13 ounces. The cock bird during its courting will fly around the hen several times clapping its wing loudly as it goes. He claps so hard and so often that by the fall there is little left of the flights, but quills. They are clean legged with a peak-crest on the head.
Syrian Swift – A flying breed that has been introduced in the United States.
Syrian Hababi – Has a white tail in all cases. Has yet to gain any popularity in the United States.
Syrian Turbiteen – Very small breed with a well developed neck frill with a fairly short beak that is stout. The breed is still rare in the United States.
Swing Pouter – Very popular in the Czeck nations. Has an unusual act of swinging when it levels off in flight and will continue until it lands and then again takes to the air with wings clapping until it gains altitude. It then hold it wings straight up and rocks back and forth looking as though it is swinging. It does appear in loft in the United States as a free flier.
Starwitzer Pouter – Similar to the Swing Pouter and is sometimes called a Crested Swing Pouter. It goes one further by occasionally doing a somersault or two. Probably not found in the United States.
The Racing Homer is the most popular breed of all performance breeds in the world and in the United States by far. It is the king of all performance pigeons. The breed originated in Belgium and England around 1800. Several breeds went into the development of the two strains and these two strains were eventually crossed and through trial and error finally a fast and reliable flier came about. The bird was breed for a fast return and trapping to its home and any other quality had little or no value.
No matter what breed the pigeon fancier is involved in we all give reverence to the Racing Bird.
The Racing Homer weighs about 15 ounces when in good racing shape. It does come in numerous colors. Bars of ash red and blue; checkers of blue and ash red; solid black and T-pattern black ; mealy; grizzled; splashed; pied; and white. There are also rare colors noted like opal, smoky, sooty, brown, and dilutes found primarily in the United States.
There are well known strains that need to be mentioned: Bastin, Debacq, Sion, Fabry, Bricoux, Cattryse, Trenton, and Vanbruaene. This does not cover all of the strains, but it does give you a good sampling of the better known ones and those that have won often in races. There has also been crosses from one strain to another strain over the years with the breeders hoping the gain the best of each strain to win races consistently.
Highfliers are pigeons that have the capacity and capability to fly at great altitudes and generally for an extended period of time. They normally fly in tightly formed kits, but there are exemptions to this. They are known for their stamina in flight and do not perform in any other way. Some breeds have been trained to fly upwards of sixteen hours with the champions doing up around twenty hours of continuous flight. The wings of highfliers are generally long and wide compared to other breeds
The following is a list of Highfliers:
Cumulet – This breed is one of the ancestors of the Racing Homer and Tippler. A highflier that enjoys continuous flight from four to ten hours depending on its conditioning. It coloring is white only as an adult or after the first molt.
Danzig – An old breed, early 1800’s. The tail is large and arched containing 14 to 18 feathers. It is clean legged and a shell-crested head and mane. The smaller birds are the better performers.
Galician Silver – Came out of an Ice Pigeon cross with either the Polish Magpie or Danish Magpie. Breed is very popular in Poland. It is often called the Polish Highflier(Seems everyone is trying to cross the Ice Pigeon into performance birds)
Hague – Closely related to the Cumulet and the Dutch Highflier.
Indian Pearl – An endurance or timed highflier sometimes flying all day and occasionally turning a somersault. Its color is white with just a hint of red on the neck.
Romanian Tumblers – Good fliers and popular in Romania, but rare if they exist at all in the United States.
Plain-Headed Tumbler of Saty-Mare –A good flier that is quickly losing its popularity in Romania and is rare in the rest of the world and may not even occur in the United States.
Bacska Tumbler – A highflier that flies in a loose group or kit. Flies slowly and flies for three to four hours. It has a significantly long beak and its frontal is almost flat.
Spanish Monjin – A very good highflier that is now neglected because of the extreme new interest in the Deportiva Pica and the associated competition. It now has become very rare even though it is a splendid performer. It is also a very handsome pigeon.
Stettin Tumbler – A kitting highflier that has some enthusiastic breeders in the United States concentrated in the larger cities.
Stralsund – Is a highflier with a reputation for high, long endurance flying.. Its only color is white and it is found to be very rare in the United States.
Szegediner Tumbler – A highflier that flies completely out of sight. It has been known to fly as long as 10 hours. Very popular in Hungry, but is rare in the United States.
Tippler – The Tippler is a fine flying machine and a kitting bird. It has been known to stay airborne for 24 hours although the record in competition stands at 22 hours 5 minutes. Its primaries are long and broad allowing the bird to fly with ease and for enjoyment. It is plain-headed and clean legged as not to detract from its sole purpose in life. The bird is well known in the United States with competitions being held.
Ukrainian Skycutter – A highflier that flies solo; does not kit. Very popular in Russia and Ukraine
Budapest Tumbler – Comes both in muff and clean legged.
Czech Crested Muffed Tumbler – Is a very able highflier and is very popular in the Czech Nations. It is a deserving bird for a wider propagation
Egri Tumbler – A highflier that flies high enough not to be seen by the naked eye. Scarce in the United States if it even occurs.
Tumbler of Arad – A highflier that was produced from crosses of the Danzig, Szegediner, and the Polish. It became preferred and protected by many top breeders and fliers. Very scarce in the United States.
Rzhev Startailed – One of the several Russian Tumblers that do not tumble and are rare in the United States.
Tshoong Tumbler – One of the several Rumanian Tumblers that are highfliers that do not tumble.
Ukrainian Shield – See the Ukrainian Skycutter
Argintiu Tumbler – A good performer.
Commonly known as Thief Pouters and because there several breeds that make up the thief pouter activity we feel Sporting Pouter better supports the category. There are competitions in this sport that are growing in popularity within the United States. The males of this category of performance pigeon possesses an incredible sex drive. He sets out to thieve the females away from other lofts by pressing her into a mating. Scoring in competition is accomplished by the determination and success of the males with each bird being identified and graded by a judge.
This sport is the most popular pigeon flying activity in Spain. It consists of releasing a hen marked with a white feather attached to it tail. Several cock birds belonging to different breeders are released and the cock bird who brings the marked hen to his loft is the winner. Many of the breeds are excellent flyers having Racing Homer crossed into them decades ago.
The following are the breeds of pouters that take part in this sport:
Colillano Pouter – Has been imported to the United States. Was originated as a cross from the Valencian Pouter.
Jerezano Pouter – Is one of the stronger fliers of Thief Pouters and thus is one of the better performers. It has been imported to the United States.
Marchenero Pouter – Its back and tail differ from other breeds. The feathers on its back will stand up and loose when courting and the tail only contains 12 feathers that are short and arched downward. When he flies the tail points downward a forward at a very sharp angle
Murcian Pouter – When courting or fighting (all is fair in love and war) the feathers on the nape of the neck stand out. The breed has a peculiar way of flying. Takes off vertically and then for level flight throws it head backwards and the tail upward and forward. It shakes and trembles in flight nearly stopping like a bird of prey all the while nervously flapping it wings.
Spanish Horseman Pouter – Many other sporting pouter breeds have the Horseman “blood” in them.
Spanish Laudina Pouter – A very tenacious pursuer of un-mated hens, but is never brutal in its pursuit.
Spanish Owl Pouter – A very strong flier. Has a short curved beak making it mandatory that its young be fostered out. May explain some of the reasons it did not become as popular that it could have been
Valencian Pouter – A very good Thief Pouter. Is a gentleman that does not peck or fight the pursued hen.
Deportiva Pica Pouters
Competition of Pica Pouters. The birds are painted so the judge can tell them apart to properly score them. Each marking or paint job is associated with a particular loft. There is an un-mated hen in there somewhere that has been marked with one or two white feathers tied to its tail. The cock bird who remains closes to the hen most often scores. They will take to flight if and when the hen takes to flight and the scoring continues.