news from tour leader, David Hoddinott, and his tour through Uganda:
We had a
fabulous morning at Kaniyo Pabidi, which yielded a beautiful Narina Trogon,
Puvel’s Illadopsis, Red-tailed Ant-thrush, Afep Pigeon and we even managed to
get great views of Nahan’s Partridge for all 9 participants, plus two
impressive male Chimpanzee only a few metres away… Uganda just continues to
produce amazing sightings! Kibale was superb, with great views of several
Chimps, rare White-naped Pigeon, Black Bee-eater, and the difficult
Speckle-breasted Woodpecker amongst others. At Queen Elizabeth NP, we had two
sightings of Giant Forest Hog and enjoyed superb Kazinga Channel boat cruise.
We even notched up splendid Tree-climbing Lions in Ishasha. We are now in
Bwindi Impenetrable NP and very excited in anticipation of the Gorilla
Does the poor dude-o in white get anxious sometimes or is it just a habit? I noticed the bald patch on the chest.
Rex?? She doesn’t pluck her feathers, she has frilly feathers on her chest and neck and sometimes they lay funny and when her crop is full it pokes out. The last few days her chest frills have been acting funky which usually happens when she’s done being broody. She goes through a semi-molt whenever she’s broody, I assume to line her nest with feathers. It’s really rare for pigeons to pluck…I haven’t ever actually heard of them plucking for emotional reasons.
They do sometimes eat their own feathers if they’re not getting enough protein or if they have an external parasite problem, which Rex did for a time since she had serious feather lice when I first got her (determined it wasn’t her breeder’s fault and they likely came from our former flock of chickens).
I love those fancy pigeons! but how do the last ones stand upright?
I assume you speak of the “croppers”? I actually had the same question, myself, when I started writing about fancies.
All pigeons inflate their crops (a sac-type structure in the throat) when they’re strutting in front of potential mates/rivals. In most pigeons, the crop is proportionate, and while you can obviously tell they’re “puffing out their chest” when they inflate it, it doesn’t look all that weird.
To develop the pouter/cropper class of pigeons, birds that loved to “puff up” in play, as well as those who had the largest crops were selected to breed. Over the decades it got pretty ridiculous. For the most part, a well-bred cropper is tall and balanced, but the thing is…most of them aren’t so well-bred? So while most of them possess the big crops and the desire/need to inflate them frequently, not all of them are actually balanced that well.
Here are some German croppers, some strutting, some not.
The Norwich cropper is one of the more extreme breeds.
And the Holle cropper takes the group standard in an entirely different direction.
Just like dogs and cats, ornamental/”pet” pigeons are prone to a lot of problems and complications because of their deformities.
They’re incredibly hardy birds, and I would expect that most of the birds that I posted (which would have conformed to late-19th century breed standards) to be able to function at least decently. Some of them would have trouble, but not the trouble we run into today.
Today, many of the “short-faced” breeds have beaks so short they can’t even feed their own young, which have to be hand-raised. The classes with feathered feet have such extensive feathering that ulceration is common when an owner assumes that the bird only needs as much care as a normal pigeon (they need to be cleaned and too-long feathers must be clipped…the latter of which is something show pigeons rarely have done). The exhibition fantails can hardly fly, and both the fantail and frillback birds lack protection from cold and water.
There’s far too much extremism in physical form going on today, but as breeds like the Archangel (below) show, you can be freaking *amazing* looking without being completely deformed. Just like today’s “show-quality” french bulldogs, basset hounds, and shar-peis are a far cry from the lovely form they were 100 years ago, pigeons have likewise been modified.
There are many lovely pigeon breeds, and a couple organizations that seek to bring very cool-looking breeds back to their “original” breed standard, so that they can survive as a happy and healthy pigeon, in a normal dovecote. But some are just way too crazy about accentuating and pushing the extremest, most-crazy-looking birds out there.
Pigeons are cool birds. They have taken well to domestication (and it’s posited that, like cats, they “domesticated” themselves, because of the benefit to their own kind). We don’t need to make complete freaks out of already-fascinating creatures.