Written and Illustrated by F. J. S. Chatterton
Specialist Breeder and Judge of Poultry, Pigeons, and Cage Birds; Fudge at the Grand International Show, Crystal Palace; Membret Societe des Aviculteurs Francais; Vice-president Poultry Club; Hon. Sec. Yokohama Club; on the Committee of Middlesex Columbarian Society.
Indian Game Club, etc.
There are three different breeds of tumbler pigeons, viz.: the long-faced (clean-legged), the short-faced, and the long -faced muffled, and of these the long-faced clean-legged variety is the most popular, as well as the strongest and easiest to keep and breed. It is, therefore, the one most suited to the amateur.
The tumbler pigeon derives its name from its strange habit of turning a somersault when flying. This it does by tumbling backwards and turn-i n g completely round, and then continuing its flight. Some birds turn a somersault, then fly a short distance and turn a second, whilst others will perform three or four somersaults quickly one after the other. It is a pretty sight to see a flock of tumblers performing in the air, and one that needs to be seen in order to be believed.
A muffled black saddle long-faced tumbler pigeon. The markings in this variety should be as distinct and even as possible
Some birds that fly a little way from the ground and then turn a somersault are known as
"ground," or "house." tumblers.
As a curious yet pretty sight, a flock of bald-head or bearded tumblers cannot be surpassed. Their varying and distinctive markings afford a strong contrast to their pure white leathers, and are displayed to full advantage during
Pet3 the birds' performances in the air. For the novice who wishes to keep a few pigeons as a hobby, and who has not had any previous experience, there is no more suitable variety than the long-faced tumbler, and surely in none can be found such a variety of colouring.
Long-faced tumblers can be divided into two classes: (1) the coloured-flighted birds, and (2) the white-flighted birds.
Of the former there are the following sub-varieties: blacks, reds, and yellows, which are generally termed selfs, the plumage being of the same colour throughout; mottles - blacks, reds, and yellows, the plumage consisting of pure white and coloured feathers, evenly distributed on the shoulders and back, the remainder of the plumage being self-colour.
The aim of the breeder of these varieties is to produce birds with the alternate marking as even and distinct as possible. This marking should occupy a place on the centre of the shoulders and from the bottom of the neck to the centre of the back. The should e r m a r k i n g s should match - that is to say, there should be the same number of white feathers on each shoulder. The marking on the back, often called "the hand-k e r c h i ef," should also be evenly distributed. Rosewings also show three varieties of colour - blacks, reds, and yellows. These resemble the mottles, but have no marking on the back and less on the shoulders. The white and coloured feathers should be near together and occupy a smaller area than on the mottles.
In breeding mottled tumblers it is often advisable to mate a mottle with a self-coloured bird, as the tendency is for two mottled birds to produce progeny with too many white feathers; these are described as being too "gay" in colour.
It often happens that a mottle-bred bird in its nest-feathers may be self-coloured, but when it has moulted and acquired its adult plumage it possesses white feathers, and often proves a good mottle. If a self-coloured bird is used for breeding, the long-faced is the more popular offspring will, as a rule, be more satisfactory if the parent has been bred from mottles. "
The short-faced blue beard tumbler and the long-faced red bald-head tumbler. Of these varieties the
The plumage of self-coloured birds, and the coloured feathers on the mottles and rosewings, should be very solid and of intense hue. The blacks should show a brilliant green lustre, whilst the reds and yellows should be free from any pale-coloured, bluish, or whitish feathers.
.Whitesides are another variety. They are not popular, and are very difficult to breed. In colour they are usually reds and yellows.
Of the white-flighted varieties the bald-head claims first place in popularity, then come the beard, the saddle, and the badge.
The colours most esteemed in the bald-head and beard species are blacks, blues, reds, yellows, and silvers. The illustration given of the red long-faced bald-head and the blue short-faced beard will show clearly the correct markings of the plumage.
The colouring and marking of the short-faced and long-faced bald-head and bearded tumblers are identical, the only difference between the breeds being the size and shape of the birds. The short-faced tumbler is altogether a smaller bird than the long-faced.
As pets, pigeons appeal much to children, especially to boys. Of course, every care should be taken by their juvenile owners to prevent the birds destroying the property of others, for pigeons are rapacious devourers of certain garden produce - such as peas, for instance. But, given a suitable spot and proper conditions, pigeon-keeping is a charming hobby for a girl or boy, and, with careful management, can even be made to pay its expenses.