Some very basic pigeons facts
A Swing Pouter
Some Very Basic Pigeon Facts
Pigeons mate for life and rear their broods together, although if one dies the other will take a new mate. Once the simple nest is built, the female lays an egg and then another a day or so later. The incubation period for common pigeons is 17 to 19 days. The female sits on the egg from late afternoon through the night until about 10AM. The male then takes over and does the day shift. Once the eggs hatch, both parents feed the young squabs. The first food is pigeon milk or crop milk, a cheesy substance that appears in the crops of the parents at hatching time and is fed for a week or so. Then the adults start regurgitating partially digested grains for the young. By the time the squabs are ready to fly, about 4 weeks, the father is doing most of the feeding. The squabs are fed for another week to 10 days after they are free-flying.
a.k.a. English Carriers
Two English Carriers
The large cere above the beak is one of the characteristics of this old English breed of pigeon. It is also one of the tallest of the pigeons, and should measure 17 1/2 to 18 1/2 inches in total length, with a long slender neck. It is a tight feathered bird, appearing smaller than it really is.
Although it was the first pigeon to be used in England to carry messages, today it exists solely as an exhibition bird. Carriers are found in Blue-barred, Black, Dun, Red, White and Yellow.
a.k.a. Amsterdam Balloon Croppers
A Blue Barred Holle Cropper
This Dutch breed is one of the Pygmy Pouters. It stands on tiptoes and tilts back somewhat like the Fantails. The bird should appear almost like a round ball on legs.
Two Red Pied Holle Croppers
Blue Silver Grizzled and Blue Grizzled Holle Croppers
Andalusian and Mottled Holle Croppers
Blue Barred Pied and Red Silver Holle Croppers
A flock of Damascene Pigeons
A closer shot of a Damascene
A Damascene squab
A Dragoon Pigeon
The large wattle above the beak is characteristic of this old English breed of pigeon. A good Dragoon will show wattle only on the upper beak. It carries the blood of the Tumbler and the Horseman, an extinct English breed. The beak is stout and quite blunt. The head sits erect on a wedge-shaped body. Common colors are white, blue-bar, dun, red, yellow and blue check.
Dragoons are excellent parents and rear many young over their lifetimes.
A Black Fantail
One of the oldest and best known of the fancy pigeons, the Fantail was developed originally in India and improved to its present state by breeders in the UK and the US.
The birds strut about on tiptoe with their large fan-shaped tail displayed and their head pressed back into it. The head shakes and twitches as the bird dances about. They are found in many colors, the most popular of which are White, Black, Blue, Red, Yellow, Silver, Dun and various Splashes.
The tail should be cut back during the breeding season as it interferes with mating. Fantails are generally not very good parents and it is often necessary to foster rear the young on another breed.
An Indian Fantail
Fantails from the UK
The Frillback is an ancient breed, believed to have originated somewhere in Asia Minor. They appear both in crested and smooth-headed varieties and my have feathered or clean legs.
A Recessive Red Homer, sometimes called a Self Red
Homers are best known for, not surprizingly, their homing ability. Many people race them. the birds are taken from their home coops and carried sometimes hundreds of miles away. They are released and then timed until they get home. Pigeon racing clubs have various methods for making sure of when each pigeon arrives at its home.
If you find a pigeon with a band in your yard, chances are it's a Racing Homer that got to tired to continue. See the bottom of my Pigeon Links to contact organizations that can trace the band number for you.
Two shots of two White Homers
A Blue Almond Homer
Ash Red Homers, male on the left
An unfledged White Homer
Hungarian Giant House Pigeons
Hungarian Giant House Pigeons
More Hungarian Giant House Pigeons
Six-week-old squabs of the HGH Pigeon
a.k.a. Knock Kwock
A National Champion Thailand Laugher
The Thailand Laugher (English name) was taken from Saudi Arabia to Thailand by Thai Muslims who had made the pilgrimage to Mecca. They developed one voice in the birds they kept and bred them only in white and black. Black Laughers are considered special in Thailand and are somewhat rare. The only shipment that documents Laughers (so named by Dr. R. W. Prichard ) having been brought to the States is in 1957 when Dr. Prichard sent a shipment to Don Andrews of California, the birds being all white with one black (at least it is thought there was one black in the group). These birds are called "Knock Kwock" in Thailand and are bred mainly for their voice. The Thai Muslims associate the birds with their religion as they do in Saudi Arabia with the Arabian Trumpeter, again, an English name. These birds have different names in the Middle East depending upon the language or dialect of the area they are bred in. The Arabian Trumpeter is bred in many areas of the Middle East and, according to Mathias Holler who brought the birds to Germany in the 1960s, they had a variety of different voices depending on what areas they were bred in and the preference of the local breeders throughout the Middle East. There has been no documented proof of Arabian Trumpeters being brought to the States from Saudi Arabia, however, they have been brought from Germany in recent years. For a more full description of each of these breeds, check them out in Levi's two books, The Pigeon and The Encyclopedia of Pigeon Breeds.
This breed has a unique vocal ability that is not to be found in other breeds. Its coo begins with a two note who-a, who-a, which is followed by a series of eight or ten wock-wocks that is repeated in rapid succession.
A pair of Thai Laughers
A Thailand Laugher hen
Thailand Laugher hen on her nest
A pair of Magpie Pigeons
The Magpie is a slim, shallow-bodied bird that carries itself very vertically. They breed well and are reliable feeders of their young. The beak is long and flesh-colored. The finest Magpies are often the Blacks, but they appear in other colors including Yellow, Blue, Dun, and Silver. In England, the Magpie was often called the "Queen of the Pigeons."
Magpie Pigeons - Dun hen on left, Black cock on right
A loft of Modenas
This is an old Italian breed, named after the city of Modena. It was originally developed there for use in an aerial sport where the birds were trained to fly to flag movements. The idea was to have your flock pull birds out of other flocks and bring them back to your loft.
This short "cobby"-bodied bird exists in more than 100 varieties. Two main types occur: the Gazzi (pronounced gad-zi), is white except for the head, upper throat, wings, flights and tail; the Schietti (ske-etty), except in the self white form, lacks any white. A good Modena is a "well-rounded" or "boat-shaped" bird.
A pair of Blue Gazzi Modenas
A flock of Modenas from the UK
Blue Gazzi Modenas, male on left
A young male Splash Modena
"Grampa," on left, and Sally, my first pair of Nun pigeons
A Black Nun
Terry Stevenson's Black Nun
A Red Ash Nun
Can you believe that this will grow up into a Black Nun?
Waiting for dinner!
A Blue Orlik
Fascinating Orliks of the Ukraine
This particular class of pigeons is native to the Black Sea region of the South Ukraine and the Crimean Peninsula and are generally known there by the name of "Tucheresi" or "Tucurez." It said that the first of these birds appeared at the city of Nikolayev (Nicholaev) in the last century and over time have spread into the surrounding regions. This class of pigeons has reach North America, beginning first in Canada as early as 1967; and are often referred to as "Ukrainian Skycutters." However, the term "Ukrainian Skycutter" is not exactly 100% correct and has led to a great amount of misunderstanding. As I understand it, Nikolayev is a city in the South Ukraine and "Tuchereti" will in fact translate to mean "Cloud Cutter" -- hence "Ukrainian Skycutter." Unfortunately, a clear conception of the name has never been held on this continent and in fact, three different breeds have been given the generic name of "Ukrainian Skycutter" resulting in a great amount of confusion. These three races are the two Orlik varieties, the Ukrainian Shield Tumblers and a strain of white Nikolajevski. The result has been that because of this generic name, the three have been crossed to a horrible degree. It would be my opinion that at least half of the so called Ukrainian Shields in North America are actually crosses between the two Orlik races and the White Nikolajevski. So for the future, let us rid ourselves of this term "SkyCutter" as a breed; since it refers to a class of similar breeds and let Orliks be known as Orliks, Nikolajevski as Nikolajevski (or Nikos) and the Shield races (2 races of these) as Shields. This situation would be much worse if other Tuchereti races such as the Kursks, Charkovski Whitetails and others were present in North America. In stead of three races being confused as one. These differing races have in common a relation to one another that is as similar as the Saxon Spots, Saxon Storks and Saxon Shields. The birds are related so closely that they differ very little from one another, but no one in their right mind would call them as one race and maliciously cross them together for no genuine reason.
It is not the purpose of this paper to describe the entire Tuchereti family as space does not permit for this, but instead it is aimed at discussing the two races which are known as Orliks in their native land. Still, much of what applies to the Orlik does apply to the Nikolajevski Tuchereti, Nikolajevski Boczaty (Ukrainian Shield), Kurski Tuchereti, Charkovski Whitetails and the others for the general enlightenment.
The Orlik as it is known could be defined as being the westernmost race of Tuchereti class breeds. This race is indigenous to the grassy plains of East Poland and western White Russia. Undoubtedly, the breed is of a Russian/Ukrainian descent but the breed is regarded as one of the most traditional flying breeds in Poland. All authorities upon Polish breeds claim the breed as Polish in origin, and in fact, the name "Orlik" is the Polish name for a young eagle (eaglet). This name was given by early fanciers who saw them in the air, due to the breed's short neck and broad wings and tail; a similarity to a small eagle who rode air thermals to high altitudes. In fact, when the breed first reached the English speaking countries, they were referred to as "Orlik Falcon Tumblers" -- even in this country. Well, they are no Falcons and definitely not a Tumbler!
Senor Ralph Buch Brage of Cuba has put forth the belief in his correspondences to Levi that the Orlik was descended from birds brought to the Black Sea region by Spanish sailors in the 18th century. Brage cited the Catalonian Red Whitetails (Roig Coliblancas) as the parent of this class of pigeon in this theory. However, Brage was never able to put forth any proof or even supporting evidence to even begin to suggest such a thing. I for one, cannot understand how a careful student of Domestic Pigeons could even begin to put forth such a blunderous theory! The fact is, such a theory borders on near insanity. Having kept and flown both races I am prepared to say it, there are absolutely no similarities between the Tuchereti and Roig Coliblancas other than the color and to my knowledge, throughout the world is found no other class of breeds who exhibit the tell tale signs of family Tucheresi in the air -- and definitely not among the Catalonian and its related breeds, which are a very far cry from ever matching the Tuchereti for endurance or altitude, let alone displaying anything near the true flying style. Any sort of connection between the two had to be a product of Brage's own imagination.
In fact, we have a very good idea as to how the Orlik came about. In the Middle East there is a breed known as "Ghirbhaz" (not sure if this spelling is correct having only been told of this breed in conversations with fanciers of Mid Eastern descent). The Ghirbhaz are a small race of tumblers with very large wings (28 to 30 inch wing spans). These birds are commonly Com. Red and Yellow pigeons; either white tail marked, Bellnecked or splashed. The Ghirbhaz are said to "fly like ravens" in that they ride the air thermals and are capable of standstill flight, the birds on occasion tumbling. It is known that all but a handful of all Slavic races of tumblers were introduced into Yugoslavia, Romania, Bulgaria, Russia, the Ukraine, etc. with the Turkish dominion. It would be my personal opinion that the Ghirbhaz were introduced to the South Ukraine and the Crimean Peninsula by the Turks and from these have sprung the Nikolajevski Tutcheresi and possibly other races which came to be with the Ghirbhaz being bred to the local tastes. It is interesting to note, that in portions of Romania are to be found some races who bear some similarity to the Nikolajevski Tutchereti, but they lack the flying style. These birds include the Romanian White Tailed Tumbler (Porumbel Codalb Romanesc), the Bucharest Ciung (Ciung de Bucuresti) and also the Romanian Naked Necked Tumbler (Ciung Cheli or "Git Golass"). These birds are strikingly similar in type to the Nikolajevski. The latter is very interesting for a number of reasons. In the first place, some authorities have described a race of Russian Naked Necked Tumbler called "Golsenia" and they cite this as the originator of the Romanian race. The Golsenia is (or was?) somewhat similar to the Nikolajevski so there seems to be some relation there. Even more interesting, many of the Nikolajevski, Nikolajevski Boczaty and Orliks in North America exhibit the signs of being heterozygous for the naked neck factor. Many of the young birds show a tendency for thin plumage and damaged barbules in the back of the neck, but these signs generally disappear after the juvenile moult. In years past, this writer had not only the Romanian Naked Necks, but also a strain of Dom. Red Thailand Fantails with naked necks. These naked necked Thailands arose from typical Thailands with normal necks, but on occasions produced a naked necked specimen. All of the heterozygous birds were intermediate for the factor showing "damaged" plumage in the back of the neck, which generally disappeared after the first moult.
The first aerial standard of the Nikolajevski is said to have been put up at Nikolayev in 1872 and is denoted as "Nikolajevski-Torzovi" according to a chart that shows flying styles put up by Dmitri Geller in the 1980s. It seems that the Nikolajevski were gradually introduced into other portions of Western Russia during the 19th Century and bred to meet local tastes while upholding the theme of the flight style. It was in this way that the Orliks arose in the Northwest of the Russian Ukrain and splitting into two sub-varieties.
The first of these sub-varieties is the "Orlik Wilenski," denoting cultivation at Vilnius (Wilno), which after the Bolshevik Revolution was in the northern portion of the White Russian S.S.R. Today Vilnius is the capital city of Lithuania. The Wilenski's easiest identifying mark is that it drags its wings beneath the tail.
The other sub-variety is "Orik Polski" or "Orlik Lubelski," which denotes the city of Lublin in East Poland. The Lubelski carries the wings upon the tail.
The breed occurs most commonly in Dom. Red and Yellow, but also existent are some Black/Bronze birds and also Blues wingbars. The Black/Bronze birds are of the "Kite" type with a rich red bronze cast over the Black. These are not very common. This writer has never seen a Blue Orlik, but he would like to obtain them! Also sometimes reported are Silvers, Dun/Sulphers and on occasions, Blue Checkers. The Orlik is a Self colored bird with a white tail, and on each side of the tail are two colored retrices as a frame (in the ideal). This is one area where the Nikolajevs and the Orliks differ. The Orlik is always white tailed with the frame feathers, whereas the Nikolajevski comes in all markings. The White Tailed Nikolajevski are not required to have the frame retrices. However, many Orliks are seen with white in the thumb feathers and also the primaries, as well as elsewhere. These are to be considered as faulted. Considering the 2 X 2 frame retrices as the ideal, the Orlik is not exactly simple to produce for the show room. This writer has seen only a handful of 2 X 2 birds, and unorthodoxly marked tails are far more the rule.
It is in the air where the Orliks and other Tutcheresi show their true mettle, and all birds should be valued primarily upon their flying ability. In the first place, the terms "Tumbler" or "Highflier" are incorrect. "Tumbler" implies that the birds execute backward (or even forward) somersaults - something no Orlik, Nikolajevski or other member of this class should do. The act of tumbling is to be regarded as a severe fault and any birds which show such actions should be destroyed outright upon sight. The term "highflier," while more suitable, is not 100% correct. Thomas Hellmann of Germany (pers. com.) has suggested the use of the term "style flier" and for the record, that is the best to date along with the term "Tutcheresi" or "Tucerez," as indeed the birds are to be evaluated based upon their style of flight and wing action.
Two main variations of flight are recognized amongst this class of breeds:
The "Serpasti" style is thought to be the oldest of the two variations and was known at the latest by the early 19th Century at Nikolayev in the South Ukrain. Of the two flying styles, it is also somewhat less desirable.
The "Serpasti" are those who maintain a more normal (front to back) wing action as seen in other races of high caliber flying pigeons. The wing action is graceful and light in its power and the birds will ride upon air thermals in broad circles, soaring like birds of prey. (Hence the name "Orlik" -- small eagle). The "Serpasti" type does not "kit" as could a kit of rollers or Viennas, but tend to soar in broad circles in total disregard to one another as is seen in kettles of Vultures who amass in very large numbers over the top of carrion.
This type of flight seems to be the most often seen amongst this breed, and is of less value than the more developed type as described below.
As already stated, the "Torzovi" type is considered to be of more value that the "Serpasti" type. The Nikolajevski-Torzovi was first standardized at Nikolayev in 1872 and from this has arisen several sub-types which are hard to describe.
The basic "Torzovi" is a pigeon of a unique wing action and flight style. Unlike other pigeons, this type has a reversed wing action which is back to front, opposed to the normal front to back. It is my opinion that because of this wing action they are able to somehow manipulate their style of flight. This adverse wing action is even conspicuous to an experienced flying fancier at a very high altitude as one can see the wings flashing rather conspicuously; especially on a sunny day about late morning. One will see these pigeons form loose kits at very low altitudes and then they will come to a complete standstill in mid air, their wings flashing oddly while the birds hang in place. This action is called "Stop" and old experienced fliers may hang in one spot in mid flight for a few minutes on end. It is found that the birds continue to improve with age. These pigeons will then soar upwards without circling like kites to an extreme altitude. Most good highflying breeds require 20 to 30 minutes of flight to reach the edge of invisibility, but the Torzovi can cover this altitude in a matter of only a few minutes time. Kits of older experienced birds have been timed from liberation to invisibility at times of only five minutes, and one team has covered this ground in 4 minutes 46 seconds. These pigeons are capable of such fast ascendance rates primarily due to the fact that their manner of flight is straight up as though they were climbing a ladder, opposed to gradual climbing by flying in circles or zig zagging upwards.
After experience with over 300 breeds, I am prepared to say it: no breed in this world is remotely capable of matching the Tutchereti class for high flying or endurance and I am prepared to prove this. In the future, I will accept any reasonable flying challenge from any team of Tipplers, Budapests, Viennas, Swifts, Srebrniaks, Szegedins or others on this continent and for any rate of wager. This is being done for the much needed serious promotion of the flying sports on the North American continent and also to once and for all rid this country of the "bull" that is being slung about by dealers of so-called flying pigeons when in fact the glowing accounts of these reports are the invention of a few nonscrupulous merchants for the sake of hype and the all mighty dollar. Keep in mind, I am definitely not against the active commercialization of breeds of pigeons -- but, there are some fanciers in this country charging hundreds of dollars for a pair of so called high caliber flying pigeons and for their money people are receiving garbage in the form of "roof warmers."
Unfortunately, the Tutcheresi are not the easiest pigeons to train to meet their full potential. Some breeds, such as the Budapest Highfliers are natural fliers who require limited amount of work for good results, but others require extra time. The Orliks are stubborn pigeons and if the fancier is not in control of them, the Orliks will be in control of the fancier himself. The breed is best flown in a selected kit of three proven birds and they must be disciplined strictly as to feed, type of feed and where to land after. If one does not put forth the effort, he will not, and should not expect to, receive good results. When the birds are at their best, there is nothing that they cannot do. Fanciers in the USA will never come close to matching the 28 hour record put up at Petrograd in NW Russia because there are many environmental barriers that we cannot overcome. Particularly, in No. Russia, all flying contests are held during the summer months and especially during the "White Nights" when there is only at best 20 minutes of dusk. With 24 hours of day-like light the teams can fly to their utmost physical limit. In this country, we do not have such a thing and even in order to exceed 15 or so hours we must use high power spotlights and leg bells to try to track the kit. The birds can fly in darkness and I generally fly mine at about 3 AM, but without the spotlights and bells they are virtually impossible to track in the darkness. Even at that, no national club permits night time contests even with such devices.
The Training Of Orliks And Other Tutcheresi
I would like to begin with the subject of aerial competition for the Tutchereti class, both in North America and in its homeland of the Russian Ukrain. Firstly, it should be realized that there are two trains of thought in this class of breed's homeland and it is these two trains of thought that I would like to talk about first.
The first train of thought is the one held primarily in the heartland of Tutchereti culture in cities such as Nikolayev, Cherson, Charkov, Kiev and other cities in the Ukrain, as well as in Crimea. In this region, the emphasis is nearly devoted strictly upon the style of flight, in reference to the aerial standard set down at Nikolayev in 1982, which has been evolving since the last century. Since it is difficult to describe in words and do justice to the standard, I am hereby enclosing the accompanying chart entitled "Ukranian Skycutters" which depicts the evolution of the modern aerial standard and I hope it reproduces. [Ed. note: This chart was not included with the online version of this article.] This chart is accredited to Mr. Dmitry Geller of New Jersey who immigrated to the USA from the Ukrain and had grown up in the heartland of Tutcheretis culture. The bird at the bottom, labeled "Ochiakovski Last one (standard from 1982"), is to represent the modern ideal. The other three, while old ideals, are predicted to this day, although they represent less than perfection. The bird at the top (labeled: Nickolivski 1st, end of 19th century), if I am not wrong, is to represent the older and less common Serpasti type. The lower three are Torzovi style birds. The last type is what we should all be striving for. It also a requisite of the ideal (besides the style itself), that the birds are to rise up into the air in as straight a line as is possible. In fact, the word "Torzovi" means "beam" (as in the piece of timber) and refers to the straightness of flight. In this light, the birds are to face into the breeze and begin rising in as near a straight line as possible. In the Ukrain, the birds are generally flown in much larger kits than they are flown in Northern Russia and the emphasis is upon only style of flight. Ten birds per kit are said to be about right for day to day flying and few have concerns on altitude or endurance. Many are the fanciers who are satisfied with only 20 minutes of flight. In the competitions, a fancier will select his best bird and fly it individually, or with one or two others. A very long length of string is tied to the bird and it is released, with the string being held slightly taunt by another official. The idea is that the bird is to rise straight up without other movements and that the string is to remain as straight as possible. To my knowledge, such competition has not occurred in North America to date. In our Redwood Empire Club, this subject has been discussed. It was voted that tying a string to our best kit bird is not very wise due to our local geography as it would be very easy for the bird to get the string tangled in tree branches or power lines and it is a potential danger that we are not willing to impose on our best kit birds. Perhaps if there are some fanciers in the Great Plains region, such a contest may occur in North America.
In Northern Russia, the school of thought is aimed at both the flying style and upon the altitude and duration of flight, In fact, it said that the Russian endurance record stands at over 28 hours. The pigeons are often trained to fly in darkness, yet the contests are actually held during the mid Summer in the "White Nights." While many Tippler fanciers may scoff at the very idea of 28 hour duration, it has got to be realized that the North Russian Summer is an environmental advantage found in few other places of the world. During the White Nights, over twenty-three hours of true daylight exists and as dark as it will get is a mere twenty or twenty-five minutes of dusk like light. In this environment, the pigeons can fly to their utmost physical limits without the cover of darkness. If Tipplers were flown in the same sort of environment, and I question the existence of Tipplers in Northern Russia, odds are existing Tippler records would likely crumble.
In my locale, those of us who are breeding a Tutchereti race (there are four of us), are of the same school as found in North Russia and most of our stock was imported from Northern Russia. In this area, while our main interest is flying style, we are also selecting and competing for endurance and optimum altitude. In this case, we are also competing against Tippers and quite an array of Continental Highfliers or Endurance Flying Tumblers. We do train our kits to fly in complete darkness and it is not rare in our club for someone to choose a very, very early flying time such as 2 or 3 A.M. The kits often wearing small sets of bangles and the judge is armed with a high power spotlight to allow flight during darkness. Due to space, I cannot go into details about training of kits for flying in darkness, but if the interest is there and readers ask for it, it can be the subject of another paper. Locally, we are conducting two styles of contests. The first is for endurance where the pigeons are timed from liberation to landing, but again, there is not space for details of the rules. The second is the ascendance contests, which time the pigeons from liberation to "sky out" (where the kit goes out of sight) with the idea of the kit rising out of sight quickly as possible. The latter is a specialty in our club that has existed since the early 1980s, and while the drive to get birds high is quite fierce between lofts, it is not of the highest honor. This style of contest was developed to emphasize the selection of those birds who could reach great heights as is so required of Continental races, and also for the purpose of loft touring as unlike the endurance contests, many kits can be flown in one day and all fliers can attend and look over the birds in the loft.
This now leads to the subject of training our Tutchereti, and I would like to begin with a few words about what to feed and how to feed the kits. The first thing I would like to make clear is that no member of the Tutchereti family can be fed corn of any type with good results and I for one will admit that I learned this the hard way. If you want a group of fat, sloppy and lazy Orliks or Nikolajevski, feed "build" muscle or burn fat at even near the same rate as others. This can pose quite a problem, as it is found that if a fancier does not apply himself to his pigeons and neglects to fly them for even a week, it may take months to get them back into the same flying condition. In this light, corn is a wretched feed as the fat is put onto the birds faster than they can burn it off. The Ukrainians have understood this for years. In the same light, the breed should not be fed pelleted feed as pellets contain ground corn.
As far as what to feed, definitely, there are as many feed rations as there them corn, because that is what it will get you. This is not to say that corn is not good grain to have in a mix for other breeds, but it is to say that it should not be fed to any Tutchereti breed. Corn is the fastest and by far, the surest way to wreck your Tutchereti. As the majority of fanciers will know, corn will put fat on any animal. The trouble with the Tutchereti is that they do not fly in the same manner as other pigeons. Give me a group of fat little Helmets from the winningest show strain in the country and in 2 weeks I will burn every scrap of fat off their bodies, have them settled, kitting and flying strong. Give me a group of Modenas and I can have them doing the same within a month. Give me a group of Orliks and I'll have them settled all right, but it will take months to get them flying strong again. The fact is that your everyday breed in flight drives its wings from the body and it is possible, with time and effort to build good muscle on pigeons that have been bred strictly for exhibition for many years and with effort, even a Utility breed can be pushed to fly strong and they will appear very streamline. In fact, Levi cited a case of a White Carneau hen that was pushed to fly and eventually homed from beyond ten miles. Tutchereti do not fly in the same manner as others, and it is my opinion that they use the musculature of their wing tips more so than their breast as found in other birds. Use of the breast muscles is in fact quite minimal. Many flying fanciers are aware that the breast muscle of a good flying pigeon appears blue in color. However, this is not viewed even among the very strongest flying Tutchereti. The bottom line is that muscle use is very different among this group of breeds. As a result, they do not are fanciers. The best I can do is to give the details of my own feed mix, and that is one part red wheat, two parts Canada peas, one part Safflower, one part milo and three parts red millet.
Coming around to how to feed them, I do not feed mine much differently than one would feed a kit of rollers, except I give them about one and a half times of what I feed my rollers on the average day. (On that note, I give every three rollers one fist-full and that fistful is about 1/3 of a cup, but I do not technically measure it from day to day.) In the same light, just like rollers -- ALL of my kit birds are allowed one full drink per day. After feeding a kit I will leave them water for about 30 minutes. Excepting the hot weather, that is the right amount of water intake for any kit bird.
Now, regarding flying them itself. For endurance, 3 to 5 birds per kit is correct and I believe that 3 is ideal. Each kit is housed in a 2x3 kitbox with a single rail perch and no trap. As long as the birds are flown regularly (which is a must for the Tutchereti), they will stay in the peak of health. I should also say that to date, after many experiments, the only other breeds that can be flown successfully with any Tutchereti are the Russian Turmani racers such as Rzhevski Startail or Kalujski Turmani. I have also discovered that most Russian/Ukrainian breeds favor cool weather and detest heat. Temperatures over 85 degrees will usually drop the ability of any kit of Tutchereti, no matter how good, to just about nil and they would rather avoid the heat than fly. In my experience, it is best to reduce flying to night time only when the heat surpasses about 80 degrees. In this way, we can keep the birds in flying condition. As a rule, I do not suggest any Russian breed to a fancier in a hot climate and it has been found that many fanciers in hot climates do not have much luck even breeding the birds, let alone flying them. I have also come to the conclusion that if one has mature kit birds, it is best to separate the sexes. All the cocks will want to do is mate and I have seen even very well managed kits deteriorate very quickly because the cock birds have decided that they no longer have any interest in flying whatsoever. In fact, it is a fact that the Tutchereti are very stubborn as a whole and they will press their manager to his limits at times. In the end, they will either do their manager well or they will control the kit manager. The end result is up to each fancier.
Chinese Owl Pigeons
A pair of Chinese Owls
The Owl Pigeons are noted for their very short beaks and rounded heads. Due to the shortness of the beak, they are poor feeders of their young and often these are given to surrogate parents for raising.
Chinese Owls, also called Whiskered Owls, are medium sized birds with fairly profuse feathering and a frill of feathers (called pants) on the front of the thighs. A distinct frill (also called whiskers) begins on the chest and runs up to the sides of the cheeks. The Chinese has a longer beak than the other Owls and therefore can often feed its own young.
A Swing Pouter
These interesting and somewhat comic birds are among the oldest of pigeons breeds. Pouters are among the tallest of pigeons and these slim birds can stand around sixteen inches tall on their very long legs. They carry themselves upright--in a manner reminscent of the Runner Ducks--and their globe or crop balloons out in front of them
The Croppers are a subgroup of Pouters.
A Valenciana Pouter
"Stuyvesant," my Brunner's Pouter
A Yellow Saxon Pouter cock bird
Another Brunner Pouter
The Roller is a performing bird from the Tumbler family of pigeons. This performance consists of backward somersaults during flight. They are sometimes flown competitively.
The Birmingham Roller is a small bird and it lacks a homing instinct so it will settle in quickly. Rollers are considered good birds for beginners as they are quite hardy.
Only a mother could . . .
Galetini Roller Pigeons
A Yellow Galetini Roller
I'll have more info one of these days! I hope.
Black and Blue Galetini Rollers
Romanian Naked Neck Pigeons
The head (and neck) of a Romanian Naked Neck
Another shot of a Romanian Naked Neck Pigeon
Yet another Romanian Naked Neck Pigeon
Still another shot of a Romanian Naked Neck
A Runt Pigeon
The Runt is, strangely, the largest of the pigeons, averaging 2 1/2 pounds with exceptional birds reaching 3 1/2. It is also one of the oldest breeds, with birds of very similar type being described in Roman days.
Although it is a slow breeder, and so not used commercially, its blood has been diffused into many of the commercial squab breeds to increase their size.
A head shot of a Runt
A Blue Barred Runt
This bird is watching you!
A cage of Satinettes at an exotic bird sale
Satinettes are one of the main divisions of the Oriental Frills. They are crested and have a frill on the breast. They are usually grouse-muffed (feathered legs).
Satinettes are distinguished by alway having a white head, neck and main body. The outer wing coverts and the tail are colored.
A Red and White Pied Scandaroon pigeon
This large pigeon, related to the Carriers, is a German development. With its long neck and legs, strongly curved and heavy beak, and the well-developed beak and eye wattles, it can hardly be confused with any other variety.
It can be self-colored or pied.
A Scandaroon pigeon with a Ring-necked Dove for size comparison
Rzhev Startailed Pigeons
A Rzhev Startail
The Rzhevski Startailed Turmani: Gem of the Russias
The Rzhev Startail is named for the city of Rzhev, which is located approximately 75 miles north of Moscow. Together with Kaluga and Tula, they form a semicircle around Moscow; and it is here in these four cities that exist the very heartland of Turman culture in the world. It is said that the first Turmans actually came to Moscow as the spoils of defeated Turkish-held cities in the Ukrain during the reign of Princess Olga of Moscow (about 940 AD). This original ancestor is said to have been obtained by the Turks in what is today Afghanistan and they are generally referred to as "Turmani Afghan." Likely, this original breed has become extinct as it has not yet been located in Afghanistan, Turkey or other parts of the Middle East and because of this, we have no genuine proof that the original birds came from any part of the Middle East regions.
The Rzhev Startails are vivid and delicate pigeons of a shy temperment, about the size of a Birmingham Roller. The head is nearly square in shape with rounded edges and a high and steeply rising frontal. The birds may be plainheaded, but lesser known are the shell crested specimens as seen in the accompanying figure which was reproduced from Russian literature [Editor's note: this image is not included.]. The cere is fine and pale in color, surrounding large expressive bull eyes. The beak is blunt, medium short in length and set somewhat down-faced. The neck is of medium length and tapers towards the shoulders and flows into the long, sweeping back. The tail is long and slightly fanned, consisting of 12 to 14 retrices, and slightly elevated. The wings are carried below the tail, but must not touch the floor. The toes are short and thick and always free of plumage. Historically, the Rzhev Startails come in Red and Yellow. However, in the Russian way of thinking, this is not correct. In Russia, only the reds would be considered Rzhev Turmani. This is easily proven just by translating the Russian name: "Rzhevski Krasno Pegije Turmani' (Rzhev Red Pegije Turman). Yellow birds of this style do exist, but in Russia these birds are known as "Morshanski Schulto Pegije Turmani" (Morshank Yellow) and are considered a seperate, but closely allied breed. The red should be as shiny and brilliant as possible, and among all races of pigeons no other red pigeon can equal the color quality of an excellant Turman. Some Turmans maintain such rich, even and out-right awesome red plumage that in photos or from a short distance they may appear black. The type of red plumage the Turmans have is a refined Ash Red with Lebanon Bronzing.
A nicely colored Startail
If producing the ideal Rzhevski type and color quality were not difficult enough, we also add to this the vibrant and flashy markings. The marking is called "Pegije" and is similiar to the Magpie and Gansel markings seen in other races of tumblers. The difference between it and the other two is manifested in the head markings. White is a circle around the eyes, the cheeks and a small beard upon the head. The head marking is generally referred to as the mask, and it is my opinion that these head markings are genetically of the same type as the Aachen Band Croppers. Also white are the wings (save shoulders), the belly, thighs and a white band in the tail. Colored is the rest of the head, neck, breast, back, rump, shoulders, support feathers (so called "wedge"), vent fluff and tail up to the white band. The tip of the tail is also edged in color. Great troubles have been had in producing good markings, even if a fancier owns a very good stud. Many birds have troubles with white or mix colored backs and also support feathers. These are severely faulty, even tho' markings are not of primary importance. However, 99% of all birds have troubles with the facial markings even in the best lofts. I have seen many that are near perfection on one side, only to be less than acceptable on the other eye. I have bred over 300 breeds of Pigeons and nowhere else in the pigeon world have I discovered a breed with a more difficult marking. I have heard hundreds of fanciers claim that their breed represents the ultimate challenge of pigeon breeding. I have to smile a bit at them, for I have seen dozens of very experienced and very successful fanciers of other marked pigeons try and quickly fail with Rzhev even tho' they began with excellent birds. I have heard it said that the breeder of marked pigeons "must be a glutton for punishment" and if this is true, then we Turman breeders must be the worst kind of mental masochists to year after year strive for perfection and year after year just fall short.
However, this is not to say that good Turmans represent an impossibility. I myself have been more than pleased with my own successes. In 1995, my late partner Gary Blain and I bred a hen that in back to back shows won Grand Champion Rare Breed under very strict competition, and no other member of the breed had ever won a Grand Champion Rare over its 30 year history in the United States. 1997 was a banner year in breeding and I produced three that came very close. In Feb.'98, one hen took Res. Grand Champion SE-Russian at a California State meet, only to lose out to one of my Kazans. (The Kazan also went Grand Champion Rare and Best In Show of all variety under John Heppner as judge.) In June '98 this same hen also took Grand Champion SE-Russian at another California State meet. Also in June, her full brother won Res. Grand Champion Rare at a California State RBPC meet. Then in November, another cock took Best Rzhev in a tough and large class for the breed and also Grand Champion at Western Regional meet here in Southwest Oregon -- which was a record breaker in size. So despite the great difficulties, it is possible to be heavily competitive with the breed. The greatest advice I can give to a fancier is to study the breed and its official standard, seek out the best stock, breed best to best, linebreed around your best, cull ruthlessly, work with only the best and keep the stud small and, lastly, to have patience.
A question that I am very often asked is "Do they fly?" Indeed they fly, and they fly better than most rare breeds. In fact, their history in the air is legend around Moscow. These pigeons were flown in three birds kits from small wooden boxes to the upper altitudes for 4 to 7 hours. The birds should be flown in this fashion and managed strictly. In some American and German literature the birds are regarded as tumblers and I have seen some that will tumble. However, this is not aspired for in Moscow and the surroundings -- the heartland of Turman breeding. By the old and true ideal set forth by the old Turman breeders, the birds should fly well in loose kits; gliding, soaring, wing clapping. Most importantly, the birds are to hover in one spot and flashing their vibrantly marked tails in play to please the eyes of onlookers. And is this not something of which the old Moscow breeders can be proud?
Something like a traditional mark: "Made In Russia."
Here's a pair of Startails on the nest
or Spot Swallows
A pair of Fairy Swallows, female on the right
With a black spot on the head, black wings and huge black muffs on the feet, this is a very striking bird. It may be plain-headed or have a shell crest. It is a member of the group of pigeons known as the German Toys. The Toy breeds were developed for color and markings, not for type, and include some very attractive birds.
Another shot of my pair of Fairy Swallows; the male is on the perch
or Plain-headed Swallows
Silesian Swallow Pigeons
These birds have a frontal spot and colored wings and muffs (feet). They appear in many color varieties.
A baby Silesian Swallow
A Tiger Swallow pigeon
The wing pattern of a Tiger Swallow pigeon
Trumpeters are show birds, not raised for flight. These birds were named for their peculiar call, which is louder than that of other pigeons. It is a continuous, rising and falling, almost drumlike sound. Another major characteristic of the breed are its boots. A Trumpeter's foot and hock feathers can reach up to 8 or 10 inches. This does not make for a very aerodynamic bird. When I got Ptarmigan, it was several months before he developed the wing strength to fly to the top of the barn with the other pigeons--and if there was any wind, he was in real trouble. He learned to walk on windy days!
"Ptarmigan," a male Trumpeter
"Ptarmigan" from behind, showing the extension of his foot feathering
Archangel White Trjasun
An Archangel White Trjasun
The Archangel White Trjasun (Archangelski bela Trjasuni) is yet another race of Statnije, or Russian Courtyard Tumbler. As its name indicates (which should not allow it to be confused with Gimpels (Archangels), this breed's origin lies within the seaport Archangel in NorthWestern Russia where it has been bred for some 300 years in a relative obscurity to the point of being only little known throughout the great Russian expanse and only then by the greatest students of the Russian Statnije cult.
The story is told, by the last of its old time breeders, one Mikhail Melnikov of Archangelsk, who's family (actually transplants to the region from the Ukrain generations ago) played a dramatic role in the continueing development of this breed, and who as an individual has maintained this breed, mostly singlehandedly, for over some 70 years, that the Archangel Trjasun came about through the local culture of snow white colored Statnije of the common kind with no set characteristics hailing from the surrounding areas, including pigeons from the city of Kazan, which considering its point of origin and its basic characteristics, indicates a relatively close relation to the now extinct Kazanski Trjasuni as it existed during the Bojaren (Imperialist) era. In fact, no different than the Bojaren style Kazanski Trjasuni, the Archangelski Trjasuni was severely devestated during the Bolshevik Revolution when so many breeds of Russian animals were nearly lost or plunged into extinction outright. Fortunately, unlike the Kazan Trjasun, due only to the effort of Melnikov family, did the Archangel Trjasun survive the revolution and the 70 years of communism which followed it. The story is told further, how during the revolution, the Archangel Trjasun's population crept as low as only 5 birds in number due to the level of poverty the Melnikov family experienced. Only through some sacrafise did these 5 individual birds survive to rebuild their breed and among them, but one lone cock who had been named "Otar", a bird of tremendous muff size and perfect form, but with a wry crest who is the effective "Adam" of the entire Archangel Trjasun breed, in that every pigeon after the revolution descends from him and the four hens; these hens included: "Anya" a hen of extremely good form, but shorter in muffs and minus a crest, "Zvezda" (which interestingly enough, is also the name of an Ancient Slavic Godess attributed to as the protector of doves and the Godess of love in Slavic mythology) who was regarded as the finest of the four hens being that she had huge muffs, a swan-like neck, a full crest, large expressive bull eyes, a flat broadtail and extremely short plumage, "Elina" who was a daughter of Otar and Zvezda who was nearing the quality of Zvezda, but like Otar had a wry crest, and finally, "Natazha" who had exquisite type, but had impure color in that she was mottled with black through the chest due to the fact that she had been a local stray and was likely not a pure member of the breed. From these five birds, the modern breed descends exclusively.
As the name would indicate, the only color in this breed is self white with large expressive bull eyes. The head is an oval with a shell crest lacking rosettes and a medium length beak. Due to the fact that Otar was the sole male of the breed, most of the breed today also carries his faulty wry crest. The neck is long and swanlike, bending backwards and shakes viloently when the bird is in a solid stance. Any shaking of the neck while the bird is walking is to be regarded as a grave fault as is a among all Trjasuni Statnije races since the characteristic of shaking the neck while the bird is walking is a characteristic of the Katschuni sub-variety and not the Trjasuni or Vislokrilije (the latter of which are not to shake their necks). The chest is full, rounding and carried uplifted. The back is short and wide. The tail is flat, broad and containing 14 to 18 retrices. The feet are short and completely covered in feathers, varying from simple bell-shaped muffs to muffs roughly three and a half to four inches in length.
This breed is today, easily one of the rarest, with less than 75 birds existing in Russia between three lofts. In August of 1999, this writer was privelaged enough to obtain two pairs from the loft of that great Statnije breeder, Ivan Schmelev of Yekaterinagrad as a gift, and a most glorious one indeed.
Standard of the Archangel Trjasun
Trans. of standard description from Russian by K.D. Spurling
The Archangel White Trjasun Statnije is a race of Statnije hailing from the port city of Archangel in northwest Russia and is related to the Kazan Trjasun. The head is oval in shape with a medium length beak which is set nearly straight and upon the head is a shell crest, with or without rosettes. The neck is of medium length, bending backwards and shakes when the bird is in a solid stance. The breast is full and prominent, being well rounded and carried high and proud. The back is short and wide, with a broad and erectly carried tail. The tail is flat, opposed to arched and consists of 12 to 18 retrices. The tail is pulled close to the body when the bird is in action. The feet are fully muffed with one and a half to four inch length muffs. The eye is always bull in color and the bird's plumage is always snow white. This breed is today nearly extinct, having been nearly lost in the Bolshevik Revolution.
(Note from Translator: This breed was brought to the United States in August of 1999 from the city of Yekaterinagrad (Sverdlovsk) in the Siberian Urals.)
Berliner Longface Tumblers
A Berliner Longface standing tall!
I'll have more info one of these days!
The above bird, hardly standing
Kazan Trjasun Tumblers
The Kazan Trjasun Tumbler
It was interesting to read Victor Herner's article "What Are Kazaners?" in the last big RBPC Directory, but it is clear that there is a need for greater elaboration upon the breed commonly known as the Kazan Tumbler or "Kazaner" to eliminate any further misunderstandings that have circulated throughout North America.
Located along the River Volga, roughly 400 miles due East of Moscow, is the city of Kazan. Kazan is one of the most valued and largest cities in Russia, due primarily to its location on the Volga itself and also due to the fact that it sits on the railway between Moscow and Ekaterinburg in the Urals ably connecting Moscow with the Siberian Urals. Precious metals, in particular silver and copper, having been abundant throughout the Urals, primarily near Ekaterinburg, were shipped by railway into Moscow for smiths and national commerce, naturally relying on Kazan's position on the railway. Kazan grew into a valuable and important city with the laying of the Trans-Siberian railway and with the city's importance also came people who cultured Domestic Pigeons of many varieties. In fact, not less than three breeds of Russian tumblers can call Kazan their city of birth.
Apart from the bird generally referred to as the "Kazan Tumbler" which is now bred around the world, Kazan is also home to the "Kazanski Panzernije" (German: Panzer Taube) which is a Russian version of the atypical Magpie Tumbler, and also to the Pachari Tumblers, which are also referred to as "Kazan Shield Tumblers" in some literature. Both breeds would have nothing in common with the breed at hand except a city of origin, and it is likely that other breeds, not yet known to the Western world call Kazan as their birthplace.
The true name of the breed in question is "Kazauski Trjasun Statnije" and these pigeons are a breed from Kazan which are members of a general family or theme of Tumblers found throughout the Russias. The breed's name can be broken down to mean "Neck shaking posture pigeon from Kazan." "Statnije" is a sort of surname that all members of this family of breeds maintain, and the Germans translate "Statnije" into the German "Positure." Both mean "Carriage or Stationing" pigeons. Herner has used terms such as "gorgeous" and "proud standing" to explain the term "Statnije" and these apply as well, although "Carriage or Stationing" is more self-explanatory, since an English Trumpeter fancier could say his breed is "gorgeous and proud standing"; though for me, I always saw them as what appeared to be a pile of dead feathers on the loft floor.
There are three types or subvarieties of the Statnije group of breeds.
1. "Trjasuni" -- with a short back and shaking neck.
2. "Katshuni" -- with a very, very, short back and the neck shaking as the bird walks.
3. "Vislokrilije" -- with a long back and lacking the shaking neck.
Typical features of all Statnije races include broadly feathered tails and the wings held below the tails. Otherwise, the over 50 Statnije breeds differ in their color varieties, markings, overall form, size and ornamentations. So for example, the Pokrov Statnije are barred ice pigeons with grouse legs, a shell crest and eye crests. The North Caucasus Statnije (or "Poltava") are shell crested, muffed white pigeons with a colored tail at times with a frontal snip. Taganrogs are clean legged, p-headed and always shield marked; or without a frontal snip. The Statnije would be muffed, shell crested and beak crested; generally all are grizzled birds. And so forth, with more variations of the Statnije found throughout Russia and only a true expert on Russian races would know where one breed ends and the next begins.
Classically, the Kazan was a small pigeon of a high carriage. The head is round and the barely medium length beak is slightly downset. The neck is elegant and swanlike, shaking (zittering) vibrantly. The chest is round, full, prominent and carried high. The wings are short, below the tail and touching the floor with tips. The back is wide, short and hollow; the lower back and rump vaulted. The tail is short, wide and 12 to 16 feathers with no gaps in tail. The tail is uplifted and pulled towards the body when the bird is in action and should be as flat as possible (no arch or dome in the tail). The legs are to be short and groused, the feathers barely extending over the toes.
This breed comes in a wide range of colors and markings. Traditional colors include White (bull-eyed; all others to be pearl in color), Blue Silver, Black, Dun, Ash Red, Cream, Rec. Red and Rec. Yellow. Markings include selfs, white flighted, white tailed, magpies, grizzles and Monk Marked. The latter are to have 5 white flights, a white tail, back, and white groused feet. The head is be to colored.
It is interesting to note that N. A. Vasiliev in his work Pitzevodsto (Moscow, 1972) had this to note about the Black Whitetailed variety: "In 1914 a famous breeder in Kazan offered two prizes worth 300 rubels each for a perfect Kazan Trjasun, and one prize worth 500 rubels for a perfect black whitetailed Kazan Trjasun. The latter prize was never awarded."
However, even though this is the typical description of this breed, do not think that the breed found in Germany is identical to what is found in Russia, or that the ones bred here in North America are identical to either.
The Germans have taken great interest in Russian pigeons and poultry for more than a century. In poultry, it is not well known that the Hamburg Fowl, now so famous around the world, are the descendants of the Russian breed of fowls known in the Western world as "Barbanters." Among German pigeon races, it is a fact that the Berliner Kurzen, or Berliner Shortfaced Tumblers and the Regensburg Tumbler are extracts of the Russian Kazan, although the Regensburg would also have the influence of Koros Tumblers and other breeds of tumblers. For fact, it is known that the famous old time breeder of Berliners, R. E. Skambraks of Germany, used the Kazans early. It is also very likely that other German SF tumbler races such as Ancients and similar breeds were also very heavily influenced by the old Russian Kazan. But, at that time the breed was very, very different than it is today; being much shorter in beak and nearly bordering on being a true Shortfaced tumbler. This old model is shown in the accompanying line drawing of the period of 1890 to 1895 and is contrary to what is seen today and is said to have died out during the Bolshevik Revolution and World War One.
The war having taken a great toll on Germany, many pigeons were lost, including Kazans in Germany. It is also possible that the old Russian Kazan in Germany was simply bred out and absorbed 100% by Ancients, Berliners and so on. In any event, many years later, the Germans again directed great interest to the breed known as the Kazan. Many of the first birds they acquired were obtained from the Romanians, Poles and Hungarians. Many of the birds were not true Kazans, but also Rostovs, Volgas and other Statnije races and as a result, these different birds merged together in Germany. Whether this was simply accident or intentional is unknown. For example, in my papers are photocopies from Romania and elsewhere depicting Rostovs and others as "Kazans." Again, only the true expert can be sure to know where each Russian breed begins and ends; but, it is possible that a few Eastern fanciers saw the Germans coming. With the dire economic circumstances in Eastern Europe, it always likely that a few hard pressed individuals intentionally sold other breeds as Kazans. On the other hand, it is a fact that the Germans did not breed 100% to Russian ideals and some breeders did crossbreed intentionally. As one example, the famous breeder Hans Joachim Karsten did cross some "Siberian highfliers," which were similar to Kazans, into his birds. Quite irregardless of how it all happened, the German bred "Kazaner" is truly a German pigeon -- although constructed of and following the Russian Statnije theme. Today, German fanciers are split into two camps. One has chosen to continue the evolution of the German Kazaner; the other is attempting to recreate, through selection, the old Russian Kazan as it existed in Imperial Russia (pre-1917). I would also like to point out that we often see birds here in North America labeled and sold as "Kazaner Tumblers." The name "Kazaner" is not correct! Use of the name "Kazaner" should be restricted to only the German birds. Again, it is KAZAN -- and it is not "Kazaner"!
Word of the breed began to reach North America in the 1960s and it was during the latter half of that decade that the birds were first imported into Canada. The Canadians generally have a longer tradition with Russian breeds than we Americans. This is due largely to the fact that Toronto has been a mecca for many Russian immigrants who have brought their pigeons in tow. The breed first appeared in the USA in the mid to late 80s, but remains rare. Here again, we will see a new variation of the breed that is contrary to what is found today in Germany or Russia. I have records of over one dozen different importations of the breed into North America. Very few of these birds have came from Russia or Germany, but the main bulk from Britain, Poland, Hungary and Holland. All of these imports varied a great deal from one another and as time passed, these subsequent lines have merged together. This is largely due to the fact that most breeders have literally hunted the breed in this country and I know of fanciers who will buy any member of the breed they can, even if they already have dozens at home. As a result, very few have a pure line of any particular import and a new type has emerged which can be called an American type Kazan -- as is very typical here in any breed.
Although the breed remains largely obscure and rare in the USA today, the last few years have witnessed an incredible surge of interest in Russian breeds. It is my personal opinion that what we have seen thus far is a mere beginning and a drop in a bucket to what the future holds. There is a steady increase almost monthly in the demands for all Russian breeds and there are no signs of it letting up anytime soon. The Kazans are one of the most highly sought after breeds, and likely the most popular of all Russian breeds in North America. As we have now had a club for South East European and Russian breeds like Kazans, Rzhevs, Nikolajevski and others these may someday actually be "Top 20" breeds in this country. Perhaps not soon, but in time. If you are not breeding any East European breeds now, you are missing out on the most fantastic group of the pigeon world. I would like to mention here that at this writing our organization is filming a tape of East European breeds to make available to all interested at no cost.
I am often asked if the Kazan and other Statinje live up to the name of "tumblers." In the past, some writers have claimed that this breed maintains good flying ability. However, this is not so true. The Statnije breeds are good performers, but are not fliers of any true caliber. By this I mean that the Statnije do not fly in real kits or at any true altitudes for any great amount of time. In East Europe, especially in Russia, a wide range of breeds is known that are labeled as "Courtyard," "Splendor" or "Decor" performers. In Russia, this refers to most Statnije breeds. In Bulgaria, breeds such as the Tipelli; in Romania, the Craiova Tumbler, Bucharest Blacks and the Vargat. These pigeons were all cultivated to grace the gardens of the wealthy. It is also a fact, that many Statnije breeds were favorites of Russian boy and the palace courtyards of families such as Romanov, Scherbatov, Yussoupov, Orlov, Repin and others were graced with Statnije. Tsar Alexander III, who died in 1894 and was the father of the doomed Nicholas II, kept the Pokrov Statnije flying at liberty in the gardens of his palace at Gatchina. The purpose of these breeds is to grace the gardens with their beauty and to amuse the admirers with their antics. Classically, these birds are to fly at liberty from roof to roof, roof to garden, roof to fountain, etc., and execute various modes of performance enroute. At very most they may fly as a group for a few laps just over the roof lines. The idea is for a true performing pigeon of a beautiful form, gentle and tame mannerisms, that will always remain present to amuse all visitors of the house. A favorite of the noble ladies, East Europe's answer to the Fantail and every bit as fashionable, but more adept at flight and with the added bonus of performance. While the concept of a performer who is not a kit flier appears strange and unusual, other regions of the world have their equivalents. Scotland produced the Parlor which is incapable of flight, but performs violently. The Middle East produced the Moos-Suli, Takla and other Coop Performing tumblers. The Czech-Bohemians (my mother's family's place of origin) produced a wide range of Pouters, such as Swings, Reverse-wings, Czech Ice and others that perform in swinging, gliding and clapping motions during their short flights. The Dutch produced the Slenker, and infusion of performing Pouter/Cropper and tumbler. The Belgians and Germans, from Anatolien birds produced in the Rhineland and Belgian Ringbeaters produced the Speelderken and the Smiter whose specialties are heavy wing beating while turning in circles with their mates just off the floors. Technically, in the early history of the Mookee, the birds were to perforn' similarly to the Ringbeater races. While Ihis ability has been lost today the Mookee still exhibits heavy degrees of wing clapping in the loft and I always saw a great deal in common between Mookees and Rhinelands. India also produced another strange performer in the Lotan, a pigeon which is technically an extraordinary kit flier but never performs in flight; it can be induced to perform on the ground even more violently than the best Parlor Roller. So what appears to be strange is not so strange, for there are many good performing breeds who are not real fliers of any true caliber. This is not to say that all Russian breeds are of this same design in the air, for I am prepared to put my Tutchereti up against any high or long flying breed being flown in North America today and I am equally prepared to put my Grivun up against any type of performing tumbler or roller. It is simply to say that the Statnije are cultivated to perform, but flying to any great extent is not desired. While this is not aspired for in many breeds, this is the way the Statnije are meant to be bred.
Unfortunately, to my knowledge, I am the only one in this country who actually flies Kazans, Rostovs, Astrakhans, Szirans and other similar Russian races. My emphasis is to maintain the true aerial abilities, while still seeking to compete in the show room. While this cannot really be achieved today in Rollers, Komorners, Helmets, Oriental Rollers and many others because the birds have largely been reduced to nonfliers and nonperformers, it can be achieved in most East European breeds because they have not yet been spoilt by simple trophy hunters. In fact, having been a Roller fancier for over 20 years, I once thought it was impossible to maintain a family of pigeons that can excel in the air AND in the showroom. To me, one had to keep two separate lines of birds to do it. I am pleased to admit that my belief, while true in Birmingham Rollers, Tipplers and Homers, does not apply to all flying pigeons. At a show last year, a fancier came up and admired the three Rzhev Startails I was showing and exclaimed: "They are some show team!." I said "No. They are one hell of a kit!" Because that was my #1 1997 kit. Two of the three were rated "HS," the same two took Champion and Reserve of our SE-Russian meet and one took Reserve Rare at that show! So it can be done. However, I would like to point out that we are not living in 19th Century Imperial Russia. Even though there is Russian boyar blood in my own veins and I'd like to manage my pigeons as they were in the last century, it should not be done! This is a different country in a different century and we cannot do things exactly like the old Russian breeders did. No true fancier should ever allow his pigeons 100% complete uncontrolled liberty. Free-flying is just not to be done. The sky is thick with birds of prey, half the population owns unruly felines; both will destroy your birds very easily. There are few open skylines in backyards today. I still live on the property that my mother's family homesteaded three generations ago. At one time we had a large Bantam hatchery on the property, but years ago it was sold off piece by piece. 10 and 15 years ago I could step out the back -door and what I saw was pasture and 20 head of cattle. A barn and a few sheds - not more. Today, all I see are roofs; duplexes! In fact, I can go five miles out and I'm seeing duplexes and new houses everywhere regardless of the direction. That is contrary to even a mere decade ago. 15 years ago one could travel down the main road near me and see a loft of pigeons about every half mile. In the evenings, you might see 10 or 11 kits of highfliers or tumblers in a 2 mile radius. On Saturday evening sit on the dog kennel roof and see hundreds of Homers coming in small or large groups as they sped back to nearby lofts from training releases. Today, all you see are a few commons and strays. The bottom line is that as an area grows, it becomes more difficult to fly or even breed pigeons. At one time, I was a fairly serious Bantam fancier, but I can't keep them anymore. I had over 20 trios I bred from, all in very nice chain link coops, and they built a duplex 10 feet from my Bantam coops. 20 roosters make a lot of noise and so all the Bantams had to go. Today, unless a person lives out in the middle of nowhere -- it is nearly impossible to keep or fly pigeons.
Today, even if one has a breed that was developed to be a free flying or fielding pigeon, they cannot and should not be given complete liberty They will only fall prey to cats, winged demons, boys with pellet rifles and irate neighbors who moved nearby from a large city and see pigeons as "flying rats" (even if THEIR cats and dogs use your yard as their litterbox and are a menace to every property within a half mile).
I still fly my Kazans, Rostovs and other Statnije. They are still effectively "Courtyard," "Splendor" and "Decor" pigeons, but are as strictly managed as any kit should be. For an hour a day they do what the breed has done for 600 years They play in the grass, bathe in the sprinkler, bask in the sun and they will fly from the ground to the loft roof, house roof or take a short lap around the yard; and still gliding, wing clapping, tail sitting and tumbling at good intervals in sequence. Never leaving the property or sitting on neighbor's rooftops, but existing solely in their own yard as if it is their own world. After the short hour I call them in, like any other flying breed and shut the loft door. They still continue to do what they were meant to do.
A Timisoara Tumbler
I'll have more info one of these days! I hope.
Another Timisoara Tumbler
Transylvanian Double Crested Tumblers
A flock of Transylvanian Double Crested Tumblers
I'll have more info one of these days! I hope.
Crest shots of Transylvanian Double Crested Tumblers
West of England Tumblers
A West of England Tumbler
I'll have more info one of these days! I hope.