The colour of the beak should be very dark, almost black, in blues, blue chequers, and the powdered blue owls, whilst in silvers and silver chequers it is a light horn colour. The wattle should be neat, of a smooth texture, fitting close, its outline forming part of the curve between the skull and the beak.

The eye should be round, large, and full.

The gullet is also an important point to consider. It should start from under the lower mandible, continue down the neck, and be well developed. In shape it should resemble the gullet of the turbit pigeon (see page 4288, Vol. VI.). A good shaped gullet greatly adds to the beauty of this bird; it should extend to the beginning of the frill, which also should be of a similar shape and style to the frill of a turbit.

The neck should be rather short and thick; the outline of the back of the neck should be a graceful, unbroken curve from the head to the back. The chest should be broad and full, like that of a turbit; the shape of the shoulders and wings are also similar to those of that bird, having a round and compact appearance, free from any angles or flatness.

Plumage

The flights and tail should also resemble those of the turbit in shape, being somewhat short sided and carried close; the plumage altogether should be hard and fit close to the body and free from looseness.

The legs and feet should be rather short and of a neat appearance. The carriage should be upright and smart. The pigeon should be a cobby bird in build and have a rounded appearance.

A Pretty Pet

The African owl is quite a toy pigeon and makes an ideal and quaint little pet. Good specimens are wonderfully small. As regards shape, they should be an English owl in miniature.

The breed is a great favourite with most pigeon fanciers, and is always greatly admired by lady visitors to an exhibition of fancy pigeons. The birds have a very graceful carriage and are full of style and quality, besides having a charming and aristocratic appearance.

The English owl pigeon, one of the most popular breeds of fancy pigeons. It should be small, neat, and compact in shape

The English owl pigeon, one of the most popular breeds of fancy pigeons. It should be small, neat, and compact in shape

They originally came to us from the north of Africa, but, in spite of the difference of climate, they are now by no means delicate, if properly housed and kept free from draughts.

Points To Seek

In breeding these birds it is important to remember that they should be cobby, short, and have a rounded appearance. The most common faults are flatness on top of skull, length of face and beak, and too great length in wings and flights and tail.

The most popular and best shaped variety are the pure whites, and exceedingly pretty they are. The pure blacks rank second, then come the reds and the yellows. There are also some nice, shapely birds with a mottled or pied plumage.

The Blondinette Pigeon

The blondinette belongs to the family of fancy pigeons known as Eastern frills, and some very charming and really lovely specimens are found amongst the different varieties.

In shape these pigeons somewhat resemble the turbit, but are rather larger. The head should be round, forming an unbroken curve, the beak short and inclining downwards as in a turbit; the gullet and frill full, also similar to those of the turbit. The neck should be fairly long, with broad shoulders; the body should be more tapering and the legs longer than is desirable in the turbit. The legs and feet are covered with feathers, and the flights and tail are also longer than those of the turbit.

Its Appearance

The general appearance can be more easily grasped by a reference to the illustration here given than from any written description.

The birds have an erect and graceful carriage, and a collection of them needs only to be seen to be appreciated by those fond of pigeons, and they are an everincreasing number.

The blue - laced, which is the variety illustrated, is one of the most popular, their colouring and marking being really wonderful, and examples of what can be achieved by the painstaking and enthusiastic fancier of to-day.

The breeding of blondinettes is a really fascinating hobby, and for those who desire a collection of fancy pigeons of great beauty and variety of colour and markings, the blondinette could not be excelled by any other variety.

The blondinette was originally bred from the satinette, and is now popular and bred in quite a large variety of really beautiful colours.

Breeding Hints

In breeding these pigeons it is not enough to obtain birds of the correct shape; colour and markings are also important points to consider.

It is not desirable, on this account, to mate two evenly laced birds together, but one dark or strong in colour and marking should be mated to a bird of rather a light colour, when the progeny will be much nearer the perfect exhibition specimen in colour and lacing.

As well as the blue-laced blondinettes there are the satin, brown, black, blue-barred and the silver-barred species, besides many sub-varieties.

Many people, who have neither the time nor possibly the money to spare for the breeding of horses or dogs, might well pursue as a most fascinating hobby the rearing of one or more of the multitudinous varieties of fancy pigeons. They will assuredly find that to attain even a moderate amount of success will engage all their interest and skill. Yet what pleasure can compare with that of a conquest of Nature attained by obedience to and knowledge of her mysterious laws of heredity and environment?

Two varieties of owl pigeons, the blue laced blondinette (on the left) and the African owl (on the right). The former is a member of the species termed  Eastern frills

Two varieties of owl pigeons, the blue-laced blondinette (on the left) and the African owl (on the right). The former is a member of the species termed "Eastern frills"