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Pigeon Genetics News Letter


Issue 1                                     January 1957.


Edited quarterly by W. F. Hollander, Genetics Department, Iowa State College, Ames.  Sponsored 1957 by Iowa State College Agricultural Experiment Station



This little bulletin is being sent to over 50 pigeon genetics amateurs, most of whom are listed in this issue.  Encouragement for starting such a venture has come particularly from Blaine, Gottfried,  Graefe, and Roof.  Your comments, criticisms, and news should help make it what you desire.  Right!


The first-year quarterly issues are planned, and editing, multigraphing and mailing will be done at Ames, Iowa, under the auspices of the Iowa State College Agricultural Experimental Station.  Beyond that there is no finite plan, and much will depend on you.


Previously, there has been poor liaison among the experimental breeders.  Here is a vehicle for sharing discoveries, problems, and ideas.  The genetics of Drosphilia, tomato, corn, wheat, oats and the mouse has been greatly stimulated and advanced by newsletters, and pigeon genetics may enjoy a similar boost.


Please note the punched holes.  Get a special three-ring notebook cover to keep the news-letters in so that it will always be easy to locate.


William Bateson, president of the Third International Conference on Hybridization and Plant Breeding in 1906, introduced the word genetics.  He defined it as the physiology of heredity and variation.  That gives us plenty of room to swing -- perhaps too much.  Sometimes the physiology of reproduction has been considered to be part of the genetical field, and we may cover it (hormone and disease effects in breeding).


In addition to grass-roots news, we shall include notes from new and old literature.  If you have files of ancient pigeon magazines, you may uncover buried material of value.


Your interest is essential.  It is not always possible to make a discovery, but you can always put in your oar of comment or question.  If you don't say something at least within six months, you may not receive another issue.


To be sure being on the mailing list, you or any amateur, should write and cover as many of these points as possible:

1. Your name and any change of address

2.  What kinds of pigeons or doves you have and how many

3.  What you are breeding for, and something of your history

4.  Observations of interest, breeding tests etc.

5.  Problems, questions

6.  Ideas, and anecdotes, news.



Items from your letters will be extracted for the news-letter, if they seem appropriate.  However it is not guaranteed that every financier who writes will receive the news-letter.


If you have birds of unusual kinds in surplus, please notify!  The news-letter will list them.  It is understood that they are offered gratis; the recipient is however expected to pay transportation costs, and be cautious of possible diseases or parasites which might be introduced.  The donor should also be willing to furnish pedigree information, if desired.


There follows a listing of the recipients of this letter.


 (List redacted and space left blank)



 (List redacted and space left blank)




 Miscellaneous notes:


Mr. Van Ripper states that some 20 years ago, he selected the purest lines of Racing Homers available for crossing tests.  He found that F1 birds from Logan X Hansenne and Logan X Gurnay were really good flyers.


Al Westling bred some blue Genuine Homers, a few years ago and found that they were heterozygous for opal.  This is the first report of opal in any breed other than Racing Homers.


Al Westling and John Tidwell have been trying to produce “Whitesides” in black.  So far no success, but Al has produced an interesting series of Non crosses.


Westling reports a cross of Damascene to introduce powdering into the Tumbler.  The F1 were intermediate, and in the F2 he got five powdered, five intermediate, and three non-powdered.


Tidwell obtained a mosaic in his F2 from Whiteside Tumbler cross, a yellow with a dun tail.


Tidwell wants to know why it is easy to get good yellows in Africa Owls, but not reds, even in the same family.


Jim Telford with the assistance of the fancier Gordon Reese has prepared a series of Kodachrome slides to illustrate all the known color types of pigeons.  (Not quite finished?)  He has crossed Fantail by Oriental Frill in an attempt to produce stenciled Fans.  (Not quite finished?)  He wants information as to whether the combination of recessive red homozygous almond will be pop-eyed.  He reports several mosaics: a combination blue and opal(?); a female ash-red with yellow patches on the head; and a female (laid no eggs) dun Fantail with yellow patches.


Herman Smith has combined dilution and milky in common pigeons; John Bolton also combined these in Fantails.  The combination according to Bolton is worthy of naming “moonglow silver.”  Smith has also combined reduced and milky, the result being very light.


Ben Cichinski and Dr. Hannaford Schafer want to know about the constitution of ribbon tail.  Dr. Schafer says that red and yellow Schietti Modenas have a tendency to it also.


R. G. Stilson has made some interesting color crosses of pale and indigo into Modenas.  He notes the orange combination effect of pale on ash red and also recessive red.  He states that some homozygous almond (Magnani) Modenas have reasonably good vision.


Ross Sgro made a number of interesting color combinations, but reports that “a thief stole 30 of my rare specimens and left me with no rare genes -- that thief apparently was a geneticist.”  (Note by W.  F.  H.--I have an alibi).


Enough for issue number one.  To be continued in our next.  Please help fill it.





Pigeon Genetics News Letter


Issue 2                                   April 1957

Edited quarterly by W. F. Hollander, Genetics Department, Iowa State College, Ames.  Sponsored 1957 by Iowa State College Agricultural Experiment Station


 The numerous letters received since the first issue of the news-letter came out have been gratifying, and it is hoped that it will be worthy of high expectations expressed.  The editorial work for issue number two has been complicated by illness of our secretary, Mrs. Joanne Sutter, and we certainly regret the delay and we do not intend to follow the lead of  APJ.


The National Pigeon Show in Atlantic City this January recognized as a new breed the “Lenardo”, promulgated by Ernest Lenardon of Tucson, Arizona.  Jacobin, Ice Pigeon, and English Trumpeter are in its ancestry, but none of them left its trademark.  The chief claim to fame, and genetic interest is its mane, which grows towards one side or the other.  One spectator commented the birds looked “crest-fallen.”  Since experimental crosses of Jacobins or Trumpeters on plain headed breeds have occasionally given F1 birds with similar cowlicks, the question arises whether these birds are heterozygous or homozygous for the factor cr (crest).  An impartial test of Lenardos is needed.


Quite a lot of comment has come in about “Ribbontails”.  Harold Gordon notes that such a variety of the Fantail has already been developed in Germany.  The procedure of course was not explained, but a feature article on the variety in a “Die Taubenwalt”, issue of June- July 1949.  O. R. Königs of Düsseldorf-Rath created the “Spiegelschwanz” in 1920, it says, a nice photo is printed. Gordon is well on the road to perfecting a stock of Ribbontail Parlor Tumblers.  He began by introducing ash-red from Rollers.  He feels positive that ash-red is an indispensable constituent of all Ribbontails.  He also notes two crosses he is seen in New Haven, which produced fair Ribbontail young: 1. Archangel (dark bronze) cock by "red" Lahore hen; and 2. Archangel cock by Red Schietti.


Ted Smith writes he has helped spread Ribbontail Tipplers among the young fanciers in Salt Lake City.  Hope some breeding notes will filter back -- nobody even seems to know whether the color can breed true!  Ted has a yen to develop white bars in LFCL Tumblers.  Kickoff was with "white barred" Rollers, which are probably "dominant opal".  He is also aiming for Archangel bronzing in Mookees.  So far, he says they are just "Moo- Angels".  Other notes has two pair of  Indian Lowtans and "problems" too many to enumerate.


Walker Van Riper seems to be shifting from Homers to hummers.  In the March issue of the Scientific American, page 169, there is a beautifully illustrated description of his past time.  High-speed photography of hummingbirds.

George Neuerburg would like to see some discussion on this question in Oriental Frills: what causes off-color markings, such as spot tail in a lace tail bird, or vice versa?  He also comments on John Tidwell's question about poor red but good yellow in the same family: "the condition is not confined to Owls -- Carriers, Barbs, Scandaroons, Fantails, Maltese, Runts, and I'm sure many others."  Until just recently Nürnberg was the proud possessor of a mated pair of very handsome mosaics -- a Show Homer cock ash-red with black tail, and a Carneau hen, black with




yellow patches.  He laments that all the squabs were ordinary colors -- "did not produce a single mosaic even from the second-generation birds."  That is further indication that mosaics are "accidents" in origin.  Not likely to be something that can be bred for.


Ed Blaine has an interesting story about a mosaic Giant Homer that he bred in 1953, out of a blue bar cock and a blue check hen.  It was silver, the dilute kind, with blue around neck and shoulders.  The bird laid a few times, but when it was two years old started "crowing and driving" like a cock.  After a few weeks of this Ed killed it "to look for the golden egg."  The ovary was small, but the oviduct had a purplish swelling near the front end.  Apparently this was not an infection as there was no puss.  Perhaps this contained some glandular tissue and was secreting male hormone?


Blaine also has a couple of questions: Can anyone beat his record of a Giant Homer that laid when 124 days old?  And , “what will indigo on ash red look like together?”  (Dunno, Ed: you put them together and report to PGNL).


L. F.  Tharp asks why not list “Breeding or genetics problems that have not been solved,” so that amateurs will take up the challenge.  Well it would be much easier list what ones have been solved, as new problems continually pop up.  The new edition of Wendell M. Levis “The Pigeon”, which should be off the press this summer, will bring matters up to date.  Hardly any breed has been well analyzed yet.  Just, just take for example the Fantail or the Pigmy Pouter.  Why?  Because crossing with the wild type (blue common) doesn't appeal to the fancier.  And other reasons!  There is plenty of challenge, not enough derring-do! Tharp is breeding some German beauties in “Tigered”color.  There's a challenge --  is this a modified grizzled or not?  And he poses another unanswered problem: what happens to “cropping ability” in crosses?  He also notes a couple of squabs with double wing flights growing from a single quill.  "Is this ordinary?" ???


Herr Werner Moebes comments that it is much more difficult to breed first-class Show Homers in Northern or East Germany than in South Germany or England, and wonders why.  Also why is it harder to breed good Frillbacks in the barred pattern?  (Maybe linkage of feather curl with grizzle?)  Moebes also gives some literary notes of interest to Modena breeders about Fulvie Martinelli, a physician and Modena (Italy), who published a 104 page booklet with two color plates in 1872.  This book, “Memoria sulla collezione di colombi nostrali”, is supposed to be available in the New York City Public Library.  Moebes observes that, Martinelli "could only publish stupid arguments", but tried to get new colors into his Modenas by crossing with German Starlings.  (Origin of the Argent?).  Herr Moebes, incidentally has sent his out-of-print “Bibliography of pigeons” to the University of California at Berkeley (Biology Library).  In German, of course.


Paul Steiden is hoping to introduce “powdering” or “ice” into Giant Homers.  However, starting with a cross on a Damascene hen, he got none, even in 10 second-generation squabs.


Bob Fisher comments he has found indigo squabs harder to pick that other colors, because the feathers cling to his hands.  He wants to know whether anyone else has found the same.  (Hadn't noticed it so far, Bob.)


Jim Telford reports he has now produced three squabs with the combination of homozygous almond and recessive red.  He says two were pop-eyed, one not, but forgot to describe the color.  Other novelties: a milky yellow bar Fantail; “moonglow silver” (milky dilute) Fantail; various Fantail crosses.



Earl Klotz has been crossing bronze Tipplers (Brander), among other breeds.  He reports that the fiery color of the Brander seems not homozygous for recessive red, and furthermore they produce grizzles.  Another challenge!  Earl says he expects to have many fair type Show Pen Racers in odd or rare colors to give away this summer.  More details in the next issue, we hope.


Wilmer Miller has tried injecting sex hormones into “faded” (auto sex) pigeons to see whether he could change the color.  He couldn't.  He and a friend in Wisconsin, F.  H.  Wagner, worked out  a look-see method of sexing adult pigeons and doves, and published it in the Auc (Magazine), 1955 page 279.  They used a small nasal spreader to open the vent diagonally; females show the entrance of the oviduct, whiteish on the left, while males show a small conical red papilla on each side.  The method was found no good in immature birds.  Dr. Miller also discovered, bred and tested a silky feathered mutation in ringneck doves.  He reported in the Journal of Heredity, 1956, page 37.  It seems identical with silky in pigeons.  The homozygous silkies are fuzzy and unable to fly.  Specimens for breeding will be given to deserving applicants.  (Note I also have a few of them.  W.  F.  H.).


Manfred Gottfried would like a discussion about the reddish bars which occur in some auto-sex cocks.  He says he has never seen it in his auto-sex browns (amber- whites).  “Is it connected with more than normal flecking?  Or is it a type of bronzing?”  He wonders.  I would favor the latter explanation since the faded factor is relatively ineffective in recessive red or bronzed birds.  It seems to bleach out black pigment preferentially.


Phil Roof has been on a crossing binge with his Turbits.  He criticizes the “reversion” sketch in the NPA genetics booklet, says the cross Fantail by Turbit gives hybrids with a shorter beak, rounded head....  Phil decided that since the recessive red factor is completely missing from the Turbit breed he would like to introduce it.  First he used a red laced Blondinette, with a black Turbit cock.  Result: sons ash-red.  Next he tried a yellow African Owl cock on black Turbit hens.  No ash-red from this cross, just blacks and duns with a little white.  Breeding from these he got  (among other F2) a recessive red and yellow.  Both were hens, not crested, and had little white.  However, as they molted out they became practically white sides.  Another unexpected challenge!  Phil is not quitting on this yet....  Another exploration: the white African Owl crossed with the Turbit produced young varying from pure white to gay splashed, frilled, but no crest.  One of these was back crossed to white Owl, and gave a most surprising squab -- Turbit markings but no crest or frill.  Moreover, a pure white 3/4 Owl-1/4 Turbit was mated back to white Owl and produced a Turbit-marked..... Also a pair of purebred black Turbits produced (last Fall) a squab that was completely white except for a few black thigh feathers....  A Turbit cock X Racing Homer hen produced squabs with all combinations of crest and frill (one or the other, both or neither), Ah these pure Racing Homers!  A pair of blue Turbits produced a clutch of blacks; Phil asks, "How come?"  (When pigeons coo, they say, "indubitably the difficulty is infidelity!")  Finally Phil throws in a Parlor Tumbler note: a pair of yellow selfs in a separate pen produced a yellow and also a “smooth cream-colored” squab.  The latter was weak, and died at two months.


Gerard Hasz writes discourses on color genetics for Giant Homer breeders.  In the February bulletin, it is "Browns and Ash-red"; in March bulletin, about "pale" and dilute.  He also calls my attention to an article in the German poultry paper.  "Gefluegel-Borse" of January 18: "Red and yellow in pigeons" by C. S. T. van Gink.  This author expresses the idea that dilution is simply the absence of "the intensity factor".  This idea harks back over 50 years to the "presence-absence" theory of dominance, which was popular for a while, but abandoned  when multiple alleles were discovered.  Van Gink proceeds happily to talk about red hens being "impure" since





they only have one intensity factor, while yellow hens he says our "pure" because they have none at all.  The modern term for the sex-link factors in females is neither homozygous nor heterozygous, but "hemizygous", meaning only one instead of a pair.


This is a good place also to remind you all that the term intensity factor is out-moded.  For convenience and simplicity only the factors, not characteristic of the wild-type are awarded any name at all.  I am often asked "which gene makes blue?"  That is like asking which man makes the laws in the U.S. For better or worse, there are many, working more or less in concert.  We know them chiefly by their mutations, so that the mutant factors are the ones we name, e.g., "dilution".


Bert Petersen (sorry for misspelling in first issue) wants to see a discussion "all about spreading."  Can't do it in this issue, but will start the ball rolling.  In the NPA booklet on genetics, page "Color ABC", two kinds of spreading are postulated, "smooth" (tail band and end of flights), and "course" (wing bars etc.).  Some mutant factors modify one, some the other, some both.  Checker, T-pattern, and barless do not affect the smooth, while S factor affects (increases) smooth mainly.  That is why "black checks" may have clear tail bands, while some poor blacks may show obvious wing bars.  Ash-red almost eliminates smooth spreading, but only changes course from black to red.  Hope the ball is rolling.


Lewis Graue contributes data on body weights in a cross of four racing Homer cocks with four Birmingham Roller hens.  He raised 14 hybrids, weighed them (crop empty) 8 weeks old, as well as some 8-week-old purebreds. The weight distribution is shown at the left of this page.  Squares equal cocks, circles equal hens, diamonds equal eight weeks, sex unknown.  Open figures equal rollers, solid figures equal homers, cross mark equal crosses.  The crosses form two groups, possibly sex difference?  Unfortunately, all were lost in race releases before maturity.  Much more such information is needed.  To keep birds quiet while weighing, try putting them in a black cloth bag.  Note added :The chart shows pure Rollers weighed from 8 1/2 to nearly 10 ounces.  The Homers weighed from 12 1/2 ounces to 18 ounces.  Hybrids ranged from just over 10 ounces to 12 1/2 ounces. 







Pigeon Genetics News Letter


Issue 3                                     July 1957


Edited quarterly by W. F. Hollander, Genetics Department, Iowa State College, Ames.  Sponsored 1957 by Iowa State College Agricultural Experiment Station


It has been impossible to quote from all letters received, and some of those neglected may feel that the size of PGNL. should be increased.  This step is being considered.  But not for this issue.  Meanwhile, please do not feel offended if your contribution is not included.


On the other hand, all letters are read and filed.  Your interest is thereby recorded.  If no letter (or even a postcard!)  attests your interest, you may suffer the disastrous fate of being stricken from the mailing list for the next issue.


A discussion of spreading (in the last issue, page 4) was blemished by an error of wording, which was observed by Manfred Gottfried.  This statement.  "ash-red almost eliminates smooth spreading."  Should have been "ash-red almost eliminates pigmentation in areas governed by smooth spreading," etc.  Thus an ash-red S combination is ashy throughout, with relatively little red.  The more extreme specimens are often mistakenly classified as "barless."


John Stromberg writes of his projects: (1) This is development of the LFCL Almond Tumblers, by introducing almond from Rollers; (2) development of barless blue Rollers.  In this second project, he started with barless Tumbler crosses from Al Westling, and crossed with blue bar Rollers.  All F1 were barred.  He bred these together, and got 10 F2 of which three were barless.  These barless were next mated to barred Rollers, producing again only barred progeny.  These "were allowed freedom when young, and some would drop but wouldn't tumble."  From these birds he is again segregating barless youngsters "of good type."


Ted Smith writes "Have a number of Baldhead friends both in Clean Legs and Birminghams that have trouble with bull eyes.”(!)  Some also reverse trouble in Mookees, he notes.  These faults of course not new, but rarely understood.  Ted notes that if a bald head has a few dark feathers on its head, the eyes will be pearl as desired.  Similarly, advance of the colored feathers to the top of the head in Mookees will eliminate the bull eyes.




Carl Graefe (whose letters could well fill several entire issues of PGNL) has some comments on the relation of recessive red to white: "As far as I know no one has ever succeeded in producing black whitesides, although Hummel claims he is making some progress in producing blue Tiger Swallows.  Whitesides and white tail and mottles (not grizzle) appearing in extracted or not thoroughly "purified" recessive reds are no rarities.  I've produced many in attempts to develop lines of fair-colored e//e in Kings, Carriers and three varieties of Homers (Racing, Giant Homers, and Show Racers)."  Further, Graefe muses on the odd fact that most recessive red varieties carry ash-red (completely hidden), even in breeds almost never showing ash-red, such as Blondinettes, Swallows, Modenas, Carriers.  Why should this be?  And finally, he reports a new color combination, dilute reduced recessive red, which is "pale isabelline yellow."


Lewis Grau has an ash-red bar Racing Homer hen with much of the right wing and some tail feathers blue.  This mosaic is regularly producing ash-red sons and blue daughters,  as expected (breeding like the left side of the body, containing the ovary).


Manfred Gottfried and incidentally has a problem about mosaics.  He has an auto-sexing cock with bars on the left-wing and a dime size spot on the back of the head, and wonders whether these are exaggerated flecking or a mosaic effect.  "Couldn't I say, just as well that all such flecks on auto-sexing cocks are female spots?"  My answer, it is that in auto-sexing stock, mosaicism of cocks is almost certainly exaggerated flecking.  An extra sperm in embryonic development could not explain it.  The "faded" factor is more or less unstable apparently (like almond), changing back to normal rather readily.  If this occurs early, a big spot results.  The only justification for calling it "female" would be if a whole sex chromosome were dropped out, and there is no reason to think this happens.


Dr. Hannaford Shafer of Australia has sent in a mass of breeding observations on Swallows, which I will lend anyone else interested.  (Most is on color).  I shall mention here only a few items: (1) In Black Fairy Swallows, in general the more rich the black the narrower the white bars.  (2) Fourhead spot may vanish.  "Spotless" birds mated  with large-spots produce young with the desired small spot.  (3) Shell crest with side rosettes is generally associated with coarser head, beak, et cetera.  (4) Red Fairy Swallows almost all have a nervous malady, crochet head, a sort of palsied movement.  Badly affected squabs die.  (5) "Mixing up of black, red and yellow in an endeavor to produce reds, some almonds were produced."  (6) Webbing between outer and middle toes, gives non-split muff.  "I bred from birds with this webbing; this resulted in young with the middle and outer toes strongly webbed, but the foot feather tended to become crowded together."


Ben Cichinski says that he had four pairs of "Ribbontail Tipplers" from Algeria (N.  Africa), cocks red, hens yellow.  "Raised about 19 youngsters my first season, not one Ribbontail in the lot even after molting."  Later from father-daughter mating he got some Ribbontails, but eventually disposed of them all.  Ben now has white-barred Prague Highflyers, and has "been trying to transfer red eye ceres from various breeds" to them.  (Some success.)  The crosses showed various colors including probably dominant opal.  He is also trying to get white-barred Baldheads.  He finally presents this teaser: he crossed the Prague with Viennas (both about Tippler-size).  "The cross youngsters run from small to large.  One as large as a large Homer.  Confirmation also varies a great deal, from long rangy type to compact, cobby."  (Any Kings in the loft, Ben??)




My attention was called to an article on colors in German Beauty Homers (Schautauben) by Paul Lang in “Deutsch Gefluegel Zeitung” volume 6, number 11, pages 170-171 (April 1957).  The item of interest is "Futterblindheit"--feed blindness--which seems to be well known in the breed.  No explanation except inbreeding is given.  Could this be the "clumsy" factor?


Bob Clarke writes he is starting to develop autos-sexing Strassers.


Walker Van Ripper's hummingbird photos appear to be no new threat to his pigeon activity --see the gorgeous photos in the National Geographic Mag  of August, 1951.


Jack Zimmerman notes a Racing Homer hen.  "with only one half wing on one side, normal on the other."  (My guess is not genetic, but embryonic damage somehow.).  Also desires a list of reading material.  Well, the NPA genetics booklet and Levi's “The Pigeon” should suffice.  Most modern genetics books will take you too far afield, in my opinion.


Joe Cavaliere (and wife) have a new male squab, named Thomas.


Harold Gordon is interested in a "vulture" condition in certain Parlor Tumbler squabs.  Feathering of the head is very late and variable, some having an "Iroquois hair-do.”


Irvin Goss asked "what is the factor that produces such good skin color in Hungarians?  Earl Owen, a Hungarian breeder, tells me that all squabs from a Hungarian and Maltese mating come with good skin color.  I am making several matings of Hungarian and blue Strasser to catch this factor, if any."  (Don't forget that piebald pattern, Irv!  But there may be something else, I don't know).


W.  F.  Holmes has “100 breeding pairs of Modenas of almost every imaginable color."  That includes such novelties as faded, milky, indigo and pale; he is also working on Gimpel (Archangel) and powdered crosses.


Werner Moebes sends in a clipping of an article "On Fertility of Wood Pigeon hybrids" (in German) from "Der Tanben-Züchter."  Volume 3 (1926) number nine, pages 97-98 (published by Trübenbach in Chemnitz, Germany).  The author assigns himself "L.  M."  A photo is given showing an F1 hybrid as big as a Mondain, a one fourth Wood Pigeon three fourths Homer.  This photo and the article seem to be "second-hand," since Podmore (1903, in the Zoologist, volume 7, pages 401-406) had very similar material.  (Note: Wood Pigeons are a large wild tree-nesting species of Europe).


Gerhard Haas has replied in German to the article of Van Gink (see PGNL 2 page 3), and Gefluegel-Boerse for April 19.  He introduces the term “hemizygous.”  And in the American Giant Homer Association bulletin for April-May  he reports a squab with a tail feather growing out of the middle of the back.  (A female of the same sort was found some 25 years ago at the University of Wisconsin lab.  Progeny tests and back crosses yielded none like it, so it was considered a "developmental accident").  Hasz also complains about confusion in the names "powdered silver", "powdered blue", "ice," "milky," and "lavender."  We know that powdered silver equals milky, and lavender (in Lahores) is at least in part milky (usually with S and ash- red), and that powdered blue equals ice.  What next?




Hayward Clarke writes "one of my hobbies is tracing the origin and history of the famous Belgium and English strains of Racing Homers.  I have a very complete list of the different strains on file.  If you have any inquiry for this information I would be pleased to send it to you."


George Neuerburg, re: Moebes comment in issue number two, says it is hard to breed good Show Homers in this country also.  "How do the British breed good ones????"  George also notes that he knows some Argent Modenas of English stock were made by crossing with Polish Lynx.


Frank Nuzzo is breeding lavenders (genes = ??)  in Modenas, Show Racers, and Flights.  Also many other novelties, such as S indigo and new auto-sexing colors in Show Kings, S  indigo Modenas and Flights, and "reduced" Show Racers.  He answers Blaine's question in the last newsletter: "From ash-red cocks X indigo blue barless hens  I raised a barred ash-red cock.  This bird has no blue flecking, also a slight bluish cast to its rump."  When bred to a spread black cock the F1 produced some S indigo squabs, showing that he possessed the indigo factor, concealed by ash-red.  Frank desires to obtain a milky Homer, if anyone has such.


Norman Lindsay comments on the problem of poor reds and good yellows in the same family: perhaps "smut or ash factor just does not show as plainly in the dilutes?  The same thing is true in Modenas."  Trying to produce good reds in gazzi, he crossed yellow Schietti X bronze Gazzi.  All F1 were Schietti.  In F2 he got some pretty good red Gazzi, but with dark beaks, which he doesn't know how to eliminate.


Dr. Golley says that in Blondinettes the light-beaked recessive reds are apparently all concealing sex-linked brown.  He also says it is difficult or impossible to get good white-bar recessive red Blondinettes.  By contrast, he obtained two deep red, white-barred Suabians from a mating of a red-laced cock with his dark-blue white-barred daughter.  "No trouble at all!"  Moreover, "one red Suabian youngster had a perfect spot tail in juvenile plumage."  This disappeared mostly in molting.


Reed Kinzer has moved to Pennsylvania.  Perhaps by contamination with his business of inbreeding and crossing Leghorns, he is "doing some extensive line breeding with my Fantails."  In one inbred family he got a number of web foots (which toes?), but did not keep them.  Also notes that Mrs. K.  has taken up King breeding.


Dr.  Ted Millen comments that if you want to try reversing the sex of male squabs (before hatching), the Upjohn Pharmaceutical Company has the most powerful female hormone known.  Catalog number  2911.  (Wonder if they'll lay eggs?)


Claude Jackson notes that in developing his strain of auto-sexing Giant Homers it has been difficult to eliminate the fault of flatness of beak in the cere region.  I suspect that this was carried in from the Tumbler cross, far back in the auto-sex story.  (Could this be a sex-linked factor?)


George Schroeder says that some of his almond squabs do not have short down.  Del James also notes that in his French Mondains some auto-sex cock squabs have normal down length (11/32nd inch or more), and some auto-sex hen squabs have extra long down (7/16 or more, back of the neck).  Maybe we'll see some angoras next!  On the other hand, Gerald Hobbs reports that a yellow cock with a red hen (Giant Homers) produced among other squabs three short-down red squabs.  One of these in turn mated to a yellow hen produced at least one normal down squab.




Del James inquires about the genetics of disease resistance.  Is susceptibility to disease due to a recessive gene "or lack of a gene (or genes) that would overcome or resist invasion of said disease?"  Well, in some plant species resistance and susceptibility are  specific and simply alternative genetic differences.  But in most animals so far studied all sorts of gradations exist.  Complications of nutrition, handling, etc., make this a rough field for genetic study.  However, "lack of the gene" in the sense of a vacancy would be a serious, probably fatal condition....  Dell has started a serial treatise on scientific breeding in the bulletin of the National French Mondains Association.


Several inquiries: "what is dominant sideburns?"  I neglected to explain that this is a mutation causing reversal of feathers on the lower jaw and sometimes a small "mustache crest."  Wilmer Miller says "I like sideburn pigeons.  Is the homozygous different?"  (No homozygous have been produced yet, so this is unknown.)  Miller also notes that early age at first egg was statistically presented by Dr. Oscar Riddle in the Carnegie Institution of Washington Publication number 572 (1947), chapter 7.  Some of Riddle's pigeons laid before four months old.  November-hatched birds on average, laid at the youngest age.


Lloyd Champion describes his double loft with 50 individual breeding compartments, each 2' x 2' x 14".  These have cedar lath floors with a 1 inch spacing, except under the nests.  Lloyd notes inheritance of fancy fever: his 11-year-old son, Bruce, is now fourth generation (Fantails).


Tharp's request for a list of genetical problems and procedures for solution has been seconded by Graue and Gottfried.  If more requests are received, I shall at least make the beginning of such a listing.  For now here is one problem: is there any sex linkage of body size?  I'd suggest this procedure: (1) obtain a reasonably uniform as a stock of normal or standard body size (weight), such as common pigeons, Swallows, Suabians, Archangels, or the like, and keep weight records (and measurements?)  (2) obtain a reasonably uniform stock of a large breed, such as Maltese, Hungarian, King, or other, and keep weight records.  (3) Cross normal cock X large hen, raise and record say 50 squabs to full size.  (4) cross large cock X normal hen, raise and record say 50 squabs.  In crosses (3), and (4), if sex-linked colors are not used the sex of the squabs should be determined otherwise.  (5) Compare the distribution of weights for each sex in the two reciprocal crosses.  The cocks theoretically should still showed no difference (unless nutrition,  Etc. confuse the issue).  If the two hens obviously differ in the two sets, a sex linked factor is probably at work.  This, if desired, could be studied more systematically in further the test crosses.


Ray Gilbert reports "our fellows here are taking to genetics in a big way and during the past winter I've taught a class (in my limited way) for them.  I believe they now have enough info to keep him hep!"






Pigeon Genetics News Letter


Issue 4                                     October 1957.


Edited quarterly by W. F. Hollander, Genetics Department, Iowa State College, Ames.  Sponsored 1957-8 by Iowa State College Agricultural Experiment Station


The suggestion has been made by two readers that a "Pigeon Genetics Club" should be organized.  Other readers’ opinions will be welcomed, and aired.  At present, I do not favor the idea; the mundane activities of club officers and the problems of prestige do not seem likely to encourage observation, experiment and new ideas.


Art Kehl has been reprinting large portions of past issues of the newsletter in his NPA bulletins.  Hope our "news" will not seem too ridiculous or profound to the other NPA members!


Re: sponsorship of PGNL for 1958, the same arrangement is to be continued, for which  we are very appreciative.


Coy McKenzie suggests that a "color-breeding workshop" be held in connection with the national show.  Might work, but limitations on time and attention would be severe.  I believe that a "feather sample service" might be more practical.  Anyone desiring to see feathers of any unfamiliar color, let me know, and I shall try to obtain for him.


W. F.  Holmes attempts to clear up confusion among Modenas breeders as to which color is what (National Modena Club Bulletin, June, reprinted in NPA bulletin June, page 18).  Unfortunately, I think he has not adequately inculcated the idea that color names are merely ornamental, unless the component genes can be stated.




Speaking of unfamiliar colors, Werner Moebes brings up the question of breeding green pigeons (domestic).  This was a great ambition of the former editor of the American Pigeon Keeper, E. J. W. Dietz.  Of course certain wild species have brilliant colors, notably fruit pigeons with the green, pink, yellow, etc. and the bleeding heart pigeon with a crimson splotch on its white crop.  Moebes thinks crossing would not succeed, and breeding a pure domestic green pigeons is impossible because no lipochrome pigment is available in the plumage.  I agree, but there is lipochrome in the skin (notably the red feet), and, who knows, perhaps someone will find a mutation permitting such pigment to enter the feathers.  Canaries fed red pepper (etc.) deposit some of the pigment in the growing feathers.  Maybe something of this sort tried on many types of pigeons might reveal a bird with a receptive tendency.  All we need is a break-through!


Argument on the "genetics of color" seems to have engendered some action among British Racing Homer fellows lately.  Colin Osman states that an extensive project of breeding tests is planned.  On the agenda, among other items, are "additive series" of grizzles, pieds, checkers etc.  This is a novel phrase to me, whose significance is not clear.  I'd be happier with a less prejudicial approach, e.g., "what is the genetic basis for the range of variation of grizzling, etc.?"  Analysis of the descendents from several differing birds, always crossed with standard blues, would be one procedure for answering the question.  Hope they use it.


Dr. Stovin is curious about possible effects of unusual colors, e.g., recessive red, on racing ability, and is attempting to get data.  (Apparently "smoky" is not detrimental--see Levi, "The Pigeon," Chapter 2, E. Lang Miller's "smoky girl.")


Harold Gordon reports a young S. F.  Berlin Tumbler, magpie-marked, whose tail feathers have a whiteish “thumb mark" on the outside.  No relation to his ribbontails, despite the similarity.  He suggests this may be the condition the Germans call "star tail."


Ted Smith comments on Harold Gordon's Parlor Tumbler squabs with “ Iroquios hair-do" (see PGNL 3): "Have noted the same condition in my blue checker clean legs.....  Just seems to apply to this pattern and color.  Bob Roseberry and I call it a mohawk hair-do.  Either Harold or usens out this way will have to change!"  (Any experts on American tonsorial styles to decide this?!)


Bob Roseberry reports on the cross he and Ted Smith are pursuing, self X bald LFCL Tumblers.  15 F1 birds, varying between the parental types in amount of white.  So far 10 F2: "three splashed, four bald head with colored tail, two show marked Baldheads; one self."  Bob is also puzzled about "sooty" in Blue Baldheads: "most of the best headed birds carry sooty, either mildly or to excess."  (Sooty is a character no one has analyzed genetically so far.  It varies some from molt to molt --another problem.).




Gerhard Hasz expounds on "factors tending to obscure pigeon plumage colors" in the June-July American Giant Homer Association bulletin, and never once recommends  bathing the birds.  A big thread in his argument is that "ash-red, blue-black, and brown" are "primary sex-link color factors," while almond, and faded, and so on are "suppressors" of color (i.e., more or less prevent formation of pigment).  But I boggle at the word "primary."  Besides, as I have said many times, there is no one "blue-black" factor.  At the risk of antagonizing Herr Hasz, in any such case, I say the "the wild type allele of ash-red."


Dr. Grau reports a new color problem in his new loft: red mites.  He says they rivaled Drosophila in reproductive potential, and he is particularly interested in inducing lethal effects.


Dr. Wilmer Miller has just made history.  He mated a silky ringneck dove female with an ash-red S pigeon, and obtained a silky ash-red S hybrid, still alive.


Dr. Ray Owen has sent me detailed growth records on pigeon-dove hybrids, to supplement data  printed in the American Naturalist, 1950, pages 282-285.  The curious finding is hybrids from pigeon mothers have longer shanks (tarsi) at hatching than those of pure pigeons.


George Schroeder says he has a pair of purebred Giant Homer's producing "a crested squab in almost every clutch--mutation?"  (h’mm; our purebred Giant Homers really pure?)


Herman Smith has a real mutation possibility and hope a a test can be made later.  He crossed a milky Fantail hen to a blue checkered crossbred cock carrying milky and dilute.  One of the progeny appears to be an ash red, and there was no chance of mistake in the pedigree.  Herman also comments that he will "soon have fair-looking almond Fantails."


Al Westling and John Tidwell have called my attention to a peculiarity found in a number of adult LFCL Tumblers.  They called it "moulty" or "bare neck."  Such birds have areas of poor feather growth for an inch or so below the ears.  The feature is not very obvious unless the bird is handled.  Anyone interested in studying it should contact these fellows.


W.  F.  Holmes inquires whether there is any genetic basis for "inverted embryos" (pipping at the small end of the egg).  He says such squabs die in shell unless helped out promptly, but I have had a fair portion hatch unaided, in contrast to chickens and ducks.  No one knows whether orientation of the embryo is governed by position of the ovum in the ovary, or turning in the infundibulum, or what.  I doubt that much if any genetic decision is involved.


Carl Graefe wonders whether the "feed blindness"  Of some German Beauty Homers (see PGNL number 3) could be simply due to too big a nose, obscuring forward vision?  He also asks "who knows anything about agates, that are red splashed with a minimum of black flecking on the white ground?  I raised one once, bred from him for years with several mates, never got another." (Maybe mosaic??)


Manfred Gottfried would like to know of accurate records on squab production, in terms of total ounces of live squabs of a pair per year.  His top record is 350 ounces, but he says Del James reports a phenomenal 555 oz.


Marvin Emory inquires whether long feathering is a dominant trait.  I don't have the literature on this point all assembled, but a single gene has not been proved responsible yet.  Hybrids from




Jacobins by normal are intermediate in feather length.


Hayward Clark notes that Show Racers with "rounding head" often produce straight-head progeny.  Therefore, he suggests, the "rounding" factor cannot be recessive.  (If the "factor" is genetic, it must generally be heterozygous too, no?)


Mickey Calegory is engaged in developing almond Blondinettes.


Ed Blaine would like to obtain an "orange" (ash-red pale) to cross into his Giant Homers.  He notes that the hot summer weather seems to be responsible for considerable reduction in his birds weight (Et tu, Ed?)


George Neuerburg says that his birds have had exceptionally high production despite several months of extremely hot weather.  Several reports have come in about George being grossly mis-cast in the funny papers (Dixie Dugan Sunday comic strip, in August).  Getting back to our knitting, George says that I did not fully get his question in PGNL #2, on off colors in Oriental Frills.  He also was referring to some cases where the wings and tail disagreed in color, e.g., blue and brown.  Well, that sounds to me like mosaic effects, though they aren't usually so neatly marked.


Carl Graefe says that a Show-Racer breeder in Akron, R.  Phillips, has a proven (recessive white) strain which does not carry grizzled.  However, occasionally dark feathers occur around the head.  "How come?"  This recalls an interesting item I got from a King breeder, Frank T.  Arnold.  He crossed some squabbing White King hens with show White King cocks and got a number of tail-mark squabs.  This amazing results has lead him to plan a tail-marked strain.


Bob Fisher says "two things I would like to see in the newsletter as possible: first, and up-too- date listing of genetic symbols; second, the proper method of using these symbols in formulas, that is, what order."  Well Bob, the NPA genetics booklet is still almost up-to-date, and the new edition of one Wendell Levi's book (delayed but due off the press in a few weeks) should catch most of what's left.  If more breeding tests were reported by you and me, the list would get out of date faster.  As for the proper method of using, no rule exists.  I don't care what order they are given in.  However, I'll give you a detailed example with your own birds: a "reduced" hen mated with a dominant opal checker cock (not pure):        

  r  +  +


 +    Od    C 
    +    +     +      +      +


The serial order for cock and hen are to be the same, but this particular order I used was no better than some other.


John Fitzgerald laments that he has had no experiments going, but might "if a genetic problem exists, which I would be capable of investigating with the 50 Homers now on hand."  Aye, there is the rub.  Shall I suggest that John desist from trying for that pot of gold at the end of the race?  But if he just "purebreeds," what will come of it, genetics-wise?  A stunt in selective breeding, such as getting a Homer with wings tips extending beyond the end of the tail, or end of the tail far beyond the wing tips?  But that too might be a will-o'-the-wisp.  I shouldn't advise anyone.  Joking aside, I'd like to see some breeding tests to determine what is the nature of the correlation between white splashing and "dirty" blue in Homers.




This summer I amused myself by reading some old pigeon literature from the library of Wendell Levi.  A French book by F.  Lullin (1860; complete reference in The Pigeon), written before the turbulence of Darwinism and Mendalism, intrigued me.  On pages 61-67 Lullin discusses "Crossing of Races."  He comments that mongrels are more fecund than pure types, generally.  Then he explains how to make a new breed, combining desired properties of others, and says several generations may be required.  He cites 26 crosses of this sort, but I am rather skeptical that they are accurate.  Lullin also explains the procedure of "grading up," although he doesn't give it a name; that is, using a purebred type in repeated back crosses until foreign "blood" is eliminated.  Finally he lists eight color crosses and their results, which I think he must have observed himself:


           1. blue cock by red hen gives squabs of the color like gold or yellowish, sometimes black.

           2.  Red by black produced dusky red, often leaden in color.

           3.  A red with very little (?)  often give a very nice red, but sometimes dull.

           4.  A blue by a fallow (ash-red bar?)  Produce sometimes all blues or all fallows  or some of each color.

           5.  A fallow by a black, or a blue by a black can gives grey “piques."

           6.  A black by a blue sometimes produce young the color of night barred black, or perhaps red or black checkers (?--etinceles).

           7.  A yellow by a black give colors of night and yellows streaked (penaches).

           8.  Finally (!)  a red checkered (?--etinceles) female with a male blue checkered (?--etinceles) black can give golden checkered red (? dore etincele rouge).


It is curious that the French failed to progress along this line.  If such factual observations had been pursued and explored systematically, they might have opened up the science of heredity much sooner.


Another intriguing item I ran across was in the article on the Schmalkalden Moorhead by Mueller in Lavalle and Leitze  (book).  "Die Taubenrassen" (1905; full ref. in The Pigeon).  On page 191, he says that male and female squabs are easily distinguished in the nest: the male has a white streak, which later disappears.


Coming to more modern material, I ran into an article entitled "Experiments in crossing of the pigeons" (in French) in the Belgian fanciers Journal  Aviornis for September 1948 (27:208-209).  The author is J.  Kell.  He crossed the spot breed (Huerte, a toy, muffed, crested, white with dark tail and forehead mark) with white Racing Homers.  The F1 birds were white except for some colored tail feathers; they had small muffs and no crest.  Of the 17 F2 birds "about 25%" had white tails; four had spot marks; four were crested; and six were clean legged.  However, he emphasizes that each character showed much variation.






Pigeon Genetics News Letter


Issue 5                                     January 1958


Edited quarterly by W. F. Hollander, Genetics Department, Iowa State College, Ames.  Sponsored 1957-8 by Iowa State College Agricultural Experiment Station


The first item in the news this time is the revised edition of Wendell M.  Levi’s, The Pigeon.  It is off the press at last, and is indeed a weighty tome.  In addition to being fairly up to date in the genetics section (I help revise this), it has a great deal of new material on foreign breeds and other matters of interest to us.


Several correspondents have inquired whether the article in American Pigeon Journal, September 1957 page 231 on "genetics and the breeding pigeons" was checked with me for factual accuracy before printing.  No it was not.


Bob Clarke says that in a mating a blue barless Strasser hen with a 1/4 Strasser faded cock "their first three clutches (five birds) were Strasser patterned, but all but one turned out to be feed blind.  Subsequent clutches have been without pattern, and I have ‘squabed them’."  This feed blind condition sounds much like the "clumsy" type--certainly no wattles obstructing vision here!


I have an inquiry from Henry Egbert, on how to mate to produce white bar Gazzi Modenas.  He already has a good white bar Schietti form Argent crosses.  My answer was that he should get the desired type occasionally in F2 from white bar Schietti by bronze bar Gazzi.  If anyone has better advice, write him.


Lou Grau's red scourge was eliminated with malathion.  Numerous helpful suggestions sent in are appreciated.  Lou has been testing the homing ability of common pigeons obtained in Cedar




Rapids, Iowa.  Most have been unable to keep up with his Homers and none has returned from 50 miles.  Homer by Roller crosses have performed somewhat better.


Getting back to “feed blindness"--George Neuerberg states in his experience it has nothing to do with head features, at least in young birds.


George asks whether I know of a study at some university that bought some 1200 youngsters from Palmetto: "if I remember correctly the findings indicated that the best production and heaviest squabs were produced between November 1 and April 1."  (No, I don't know of this study; the reference will be welcome).  George adds: "I have long been aware of these facts, and that is the main reason that only once in 50 years have I separated the sexes at any time of year.  An increasing number of fanciers are learning that their best show birds are hatched in November or December or January, though most of them still want to time their birds for show conditions for the winter shows."


Norman Lindsay has a seasonal comment on his Gazzi Modenas: "I seem to get more foul-marked with white feathers during hot weather than cold.  Sometimes a portion of these are lost during the first molt.  I had several blues this year that were almost laced, but are molting in the proper color."


Lindsay also comments on a peculiarity observed in three Giant Runt Hens, not closely related, of Raymond Powers stock: feathers growing on the inside of the lower eyelid.  "Two had one on each side, and one had two on one side and one on the other.  The feathers are not visible except occasionally when the bird blinks its eyes.  They are about 1/4" long and are fully formed.  They seem to cause discomfort to the birds and we keep them pulled."  Maybe a new sex-linked recessive factor?


George Kleinpell also has a feather anomaly--a young blue Turbit cock with double-length feathers on breast and abdomen, making the bird resemble a goose.  Each feather looks like two, attached end to tip.  Will this condition reappear after molting or pulling??

George also comments on the NPA Genetics Booklet, concerning the page on "Stepping up" sex-linked meetings.  He figured that in this series any color is recessive to all above it.  This is not so, although I don't blame him much for falling into the error.  Dominance and recessiveness play a part, but these colors differ sometimes by several factors.  For example, cream is above brown, but brown has the dominant wild type allele of dilution.  If you understand the genotypes, that page in the booklet is superfluous, merely a "recipe."


Another example of error may be instructive (I hope not too embarrassing!), Mickey Calgary has a pair of black Orientals of varied ancestry which produced reds, browns, duns T pattern, etc.  He figures that his chances of getting drab or khaki are about three in 32 squabs, and for yellow about two in 32, or one in 16.  I agree with the calculation for yellow, but not the drab. (There follows, a drawing showing the genotype.  The hen is listed with two sex chromosomes.  Hollander explains that hens only have one sex chromosome.  He also points out other problems with the way the genotype is defined.).




Bob Roseberry asks "Will S or recessive red mask grizzle?"  The answer for S is yes, at least partly.  Apparently G works most effectively when the pigment is not “spread".  However for recessive red, the answer is no.  Such a birds are usually quite obviously grizzled.  (Why??)


Coy McKenzie is also puzzled by an interaction problem.  He says "it is my understanding that a homozygous recessive red masks all patterns and colors.  How then can it show any patterns such as white bars?"  Probably the simplest answer is that stenciling factor(s) can unmask.  (Why??)


Del James has been reading a book on breeding by Hagedoorn.  Del bumped into the term "haplozygous” and wonders what it means.  This term is not used much, but it is a synonym for "hemizygous," meaning a single sex-link factor in a female bird....  Del wonders whether a bird with S, faded, ash red, reduced would look pretty.  My guess is that all these lightning factors would just about make the bird white....  About the record of 555 ounces live-weight to squabs in a year, he says if this is “the McCoy," produced by a French Mondain hen.  (What, no mate?!).  He says the present record production from a Texan (French Mondains-King mixture) is 465 ounces.  An error in PGNL for page 3 must be corrected: Manfred Gottfried's 350 ounce King record was for dressed weight; live weight would be about 420 ounces.  (17 squabs).


Jim Telford has to dispose of his birds temporarily because he has become ill.


Wilmer Miller crossed a cock S reduced with a hen S black and got a "yellow."  The cock did not have any dilution in his pedigree.  So Wilmer wonders if the "yellow" is a S reduced recessive red.  Yes, this combination does resemble yellow.


R. G. Silson suggests that racing ability of Homers in unusual colors (PGNL 4 page 2) should not be judged on the basis of one or a few specimens.  He suggests 200 birds, but getting so many may be very difficult matter.  Silson also wonders whether Herman Smith's possible mutation to ash-red (PGNL 4 page 3) could be explained rather by presence of BA­ in the milky parent, masked. ....  Concerning Marvin Emery's question about inheritance of feather length, he says "crosses of Swifts to Homers give intermediates.  F2 gives a wide range of combinations of type and feather."  Sounds as if not many factor differences are involved.




Don Shaw reports that the new genetics laboratory at the University of Wisconsin (replacing the aromatic old barn, which burned a couple of years ago along with a good share of the pigeons) is now being occupied.  He is expects to assault pigeon genes with X-rays. 


Carl Graefe says that he and Frank Nuzzo have handled some almonds that have orange eyes, a rarity.  He wants to know whether it's possible for homozygous almonds not to have defective eyes.  (Possible, I suppose, but I haven't seen any).


George Schroeder says that by "breeding almond to almond and saving only those young with normal or long down I reduced the number of pure cock squabs with faulty eyes materially; so much so that I am beginning to think it will be impossible to secure faulty eyes once the short down characteristic has been bred out of the strain....  The pure almond cocks are now coming with less and less color--pretty birds and bull eyes are also beginning to show up."  (Almond Racing Homers).  That is interesting providing these cocks are not just recessive whites!  Better out cross them to blue bar hens, George, for a test.


Schroeder has another world's first which is rather incredible: "I have faded almond in Giant Homers and Kings in both sexes, but have produced only one cock pure for faded almond; it was much like any other almond except for the faded coloration of the feathers."  To my knowledge faded and almond cannot exist together in the genotype of the hen (except by mosaicism)  since they are alleles, and similarly a pure cock is inconceivable.  Backup, George, and explain!


On the other hand, Carl Graefe states that an almond hen in Nuzzo's loft mated to a blue cock produced three almonds and two faded (and some blues).  Almond is apparently rather unstable, as the heavy flecking suggests, and can mutate to faded (or even back to wild type).  The first faded bird discovered by Feldman, some 25 years ago was the son of an almond Tumbler mother.


Carl Graefe has had a "pony- tail" hair-do pigeon for several years.  In hopes that it was a mutation, he mated the bird with her sire and later with her son, but all the progeny have been discouragingly normal.  "Just some back feathers growing on her head, apparently," he concludes.


Werner Moebes has found several reports in old literature of similar head tufts; the birds were called by Germans "Kaisertaube" or "Koenigtaub." Moebes refers to the British "Poultry Chronicle" for 1855, March, and B.  P.  Grants (1871?)  "The Pigeon Book" page 56.  Also in "Gefiederte Welt" (Berlin), volume 1, in 1872, pages 46, 47.  In the last, a pair of field pigeons is described, which had tufted heads, somewhat like certain ducks.  The two birds were obtained from widely separate localities.  In the same volume, Herman Köhne described another pair in Potsdam, and said that all the progeny were plain-headed.


Speaking of peculiar heads, a case of a two-headed embryo (ready to hatch) is reported with pictures in "Die Reisetaub" (Essen, Germany) March 15, 1957 page 198-199.  Moebes has sent me this copy, if anyone else cares to see it.


Ben Cichinski presents a problem of disharmonious beak growth.  Among his Prague Highflyer by the Vienna Tumbler crosses (F1).  About 10% of the youngsters had the upper beak short and thick as in Vienna, but the lower mandible long and thin is in the Prague.  "In some the discrepancy of length has been so great that as soon as the parents stop feeding, the young wasted away and died."  The disharmony occurred regardless of whether the Vienna was the male or female of the mating.




Chester Johnson is developing blue Show Kings in Gazzi pattern.  (Question--will detractors call them Giant Modenas or cobby Strasser's?)


Gerald Hobbs calls attention to the relationship of "grease quills " along the sides of the body and richness of the color.  "A recessive red Giant Homer with quite a number of grease quills mated to an imported red Strasser with more quills produced a number of young with a spectacular red."  The grease-quill character is observable in pigeons of numerous breeds showing glossy sheen, notably in the Bronze Archangel.  F1 hybrids from them have shown the trait also, and it may be a simple dominant.  Further study needed.


Herman Smith sends in news of the past breeding season involving Archangels, Starlings, Ice, Milky and other-colored Fantails, et cetera.  "One of the things I am finding out is that red is quite confusing.  In a cross of a reduced red female (Modena stock) to a bar less blue starling (Archangel?)  of four progeny two were solid red when first feathered, but eventually became blue checkered with much red."


Phil Roof wonders whether his recessive red Turbit project is jinxed--in the fourth year the crest and Turbit pattern have not been obtained, and the red develops mottling in the shield.  I think the trouble is partly that a cumbersome procedure was used: he got F2 recessive reds (from Owl by Turbit) and mated these with Turbit again; the "3/4 Turbit" obtained were then mated together.  A faster method would have been to back cross F1 to Turbit, select the B-1 birds with Turbit pattern and crest, test these with red Owls to find which is heterozygous for e, next back cross again to Turbit, select, test again, and finally mate 7/8-Turbits together, letting recessive red segregate.


Phil notes that his pair of yellow (e//e) Parlor Tumblers again produced a light creamy colored weak squab (see PGNL 2, page 3).  "This thing doesn't even look much like a pigeon....  Very weak, red eyes, skull ill-formed, quills not breaking, still very plump breast....  Don't think it will live."


Harold Gordon sends in photos of a young "deRoy" (almond recessive red), Tumbler female showing the "vulture" character.  He says "on 90th day I noticed pin feathers had completely covered the head....  She is now mated and am waiting for a son to mate her to."  Also for the less extreme condition.  "I will be pleased to call Iroquois hairdo the Mohawk hairdo hereafter."


Harold also has more news: a young "sandy tan color" Parlor Tumbler hen, out of almond stock, when a baby was rosy pink all over.  Even the pin feathers sheaths were pink....  In a pen of seven birds, two show great avidity toward mealworms....  Louis Hershatter, has started breeding Show-type Schietti Modenas in the Ribbontail pattern.


L.  F.  Tharp reports two youngsters, from German Beauty Homers, one having six toes on each foot, the other having five toes on 1 foot, normal otherwise.  The six-toed squab also has 13 flights in each wing, the extra ones being unusually long and peculiar in shape.


Tharp is crossing Norwich Croppers with Kings and German Beauty Homers also an old German Cropper hen with a blue Giant Runt.  The F1 all have "intermediate" crop, when mature....  Also some colorful comments: "have finally secured a white bar Hungarian.  Mated to ash-red T pattern King, will F1 have orange color?"  Yes, the ash-red dominant-opal combination should appear in F1, and look orange.  "A fellow from Arkansas stopped by.  Told me that his Racing Homers produced mostly ash reds and blues, but had observed observed that heavy feeding of charcoal invariably caused unusual colors to appear.  Coincidence?"  (A beautiful example of post-hoc reasoning.)



                          Several notes on mosaics this time:

1.  Norman Lindsay has an F2 from Nun by LFCL Tumbler that is "nearly self black except white in the rump and one pure yellow feather in the lower part of the hackle."

2.  Lindsey again: a gazzi Modena cock "part red and part black.  The black is of good color and so is the red--appears to be recessive red."

3.  Phil Roof: "from the crosses (Turbit and Owl) have a recessive red (cock apparently); red color is very good in most parts of the body, but on one flight and base of the neck he has large patches of jet black."

4.  Werner Moebes quotes from old literature: Herman Köhne in "Gefiederte Welt" (Berlin) 1872 mentions an Oriental Frill completely white on one side, blue wings on the other; a Kalotte (Helmet) with a blue head and a red tail; and a Gimpel (Archangel) yellow on one side and black on the other.  Mobes also reminds us of the "Scherzo"  (Joke) mosaic in Modenas describe by Bonizzi 1873.

5.  Anyone who has mosaics should keep a record (photo, sketch) of changes from 1 molt to the next.  They can change!


Some new literature references are of interest: John Stevens calls attention to study a pigeon wing structure in the November 1957 issue of "The Condor" (volume 59, pages 394-397).  From the zoological Institute of the University of Cologne (Germany) I have received reprints from Dr. Otto Kuhn: (1)  O.  Kuhn and H. U. Koecke, 1956.  "Das Scgucjsak der Nekabibkasteb ub Integument verschiedener Taubenrassen." Zeitscgruft fur Zellforschung, volume 44:557-584.  (Fate of pigment cells in the skin and feathers of various breeds such as Racing Homers, Whiteside Tumblers, et cetera.)

(2).  O.  Kuhn R. Hesse 1957 "Die postembryonale Pterylose bei Taubenrassen verschiedener Grosse."  Zeitschrift Morphologie und Oekologie der Tiere, volume 45:66 6-655.  (Homers, Owls and Giant Runt--development of the feather tracts).


Excerpts from A.  L.  Hagedoorn 1948 "Animal Breeding," (third ed.).  London: Crosby Lockwood and Son Ltd page 317: "We found one recessive lethal, complete blindness, in homing pigeons being inherited as a mono factorial recessive, the heterozygous being good flyers and quite normal."

"One of the Dutch amateurs bred a few first-generation hybrids between the stockdove (Columba Oenas) and homing pigeons, and those hybrids had a strong homing instinct and return home from Bordeaux, France, to the Dordrecht, Holland.  The males in these hybrids are sometimes fertile at an age of several years."






Pigeon Genetics News Letter



Issue 6                                   April 1958


Edited quarterly by W. F. Hollander, Genetics Department, Iowa State College, Ames.  Sponsored 1958 by Iowa State College Agricultural Experiment Station


Spring is here again, with renewed hope for manipulating those elusive chromosomes and genes.  Reed Kinzer says "inbreeding is the feature in '58 at this address."  Ted Smith is also exploring inbreeding effects in his "Moo-Angels", the goal being a combination of the features of both Mookee and Archangel without crossing back either breed.  Del James is still pursuing the "Persian down" effect in baby squads--not gathering wool, however.  Fred Schultz is working on the possibilities of selection for "reproductive fitness."  Clark Bordner is planning an attack on the genetics of tumbling or rolling.  Frank Nuzzo is shooting for a Show-pen Racer in the bronze Tippler (Brander) color.  Norman Talley is working on Giant Homers with a bronze like that of Modenas.  And so on!


Colin Osman notes that Mr. R.  Wallenberg, has bred a barless, blue Racing Homer from stock not previously known to show this pattern.


B.  Petersen has had correspondence with Mr. Bernard E.  Nolan, who has been breeding albino Racing Homers.  These were from strain mixtures (Curtis-Gurnay, Twombly-Baisley, et cetera.), mostly cousin matings.  The original birds were apparently all from Brooklyn and New England regions.  It is appropriate here to note that one of my own albino sources was very likely of the same general origin (bred by Walter Gomolka of Long Island, 1951).  Seems to be a single recessive factor, probably the same as I previously reported in LFCL Tumblers.


 Speaking of Racing Homer colors, Mr. A.  Nelson Hutton sends a photo of an opal checker  hen, which won first prize in the Scottish National Flying Club race from Rennes (530 miles), 6000 birds competing.  (And we dare call opal a "weak" color?)  Apparently opal is commonly referred to there as "pencilling."




Another foreign color name is sent in by Werner Moebes: In "Die Reisetaub” (Essen, Germany), November 2, 1957, page 783, there is a discussion of the "Minime" coloration in Homers.  Just what this corresponds to in our terminology is not clear: the description is rusty brown, occurring only in hens, but the squabs of this type are "almost naked" (equal short down?).  They are produced from blues.  My guess, in spite of the short down, is that the brown factor is involved.


Dr. Stovin says "I have recently acquired a recessive opal cock.  I am contemplating a recessive red hen as a mate.  Would you be good enough to tell me what the result of this mating is likely to be?"  The answer: unless each bird happens to be heterozygous for the others color factor, all the squabs will show neither, and therefore should be blues.


Dr. Whitney writes "have you come across a factor which produces a fluffy sort of feathering, eyes droopy, wings and tail stubby or shorter than normal.  And when they fly look like a blimp?  I bought out loft and had two of these 'characters'.  In the nest with each was a normal squeaker.  I found close relationship among the four parents (two pairs).  One died just after the molt.  The new feathers are harder than the first but still produce a fluffy effect.  The birds seem stupid, but I think they are not; rather that they lack the normal physique.  Strange behavior: the bird I have isn't mated yet became broody and is sitting on a nest day and night alongside of another normal and its mate."  The answer is: wow!!  Dr. Whitney is also interested in the heredity of "wildness."


I have an inquiry from Albert Verhelle, Belgium, the home of the Homers.  He is interested in pigeon genetics, and did not know of any publications in the last 10 years.  How could Belgium get so far behind?!


Woodrow Wilson says "I am tinkering around with a Racing Homer cock by high flying Tippler hen cross.  Would like to hear from someone who has tried this.  I would primarily be interested in homing ability and endurance."  He also thanks us "for the three holes" in the newsletter.  Holes being naught, that's very little to be thankful for!


Harold Moise reports an inquiry from a "professor" for a "genetically pure strain of pigeons."  Harold wants my comments.  Apparently the prof wants to pure strain produced by 20 generations or more of sib mating.  Of course this is commercially impractical, and a desire for pure strains of lab animals is more or less of a fad.  Actually most "pure breeds" or varieties are pure enough for almost any purpose.  Residual variation from environmental sources is much more significant.


Several readers attended the National Show in Stockton, Calif., last January, with side trips.  Carl Graefe's momentum carried him to Hawaii, where he observed white common pigeon nesting in the tops of palm trees (Honolulu zoo).  He obtained a booklet put out in 1949 by the Board of Agriculture and Forestry there on "Game Birds  in Hawaii," which includes six pages and a map on feral pigeons.  The island of Hawaii is estimated to have some 2300 birds breeding.  "In sheltered portions of cliffs along seacoast, in rocky gulches, and collapsed lava tubes up to 10,000 feet on Mauna Kea."  The birds are thought to have been derived from escapees of stock, arriving in as early as 1796.  Blue checkered and barred are the chief types.




Wendell Levi notes the practice at a California squab farm of crossing silver King cocks with White King hens for the purpose of obtaining extra hens (the brown color).  The cross also generally produced ash-red cocks.  Analysis of similar crosses is the experimental portion of a thesis recently finished for the Bachelor’s degree in Zoology at the University of California at Riverside by Karla Jones.


Ray Gilbert comments that the NPA genetics booklet is probably going to become a collector's item by the end of the year.


Walter Van Ripper and Ted Smith, inquire about chemical analysis of brilliant red and green colors of wild species.  This is out of my bailiwick, but I don't think there is any such thing as a green pigment in feathers--it is a combination of yellow pigment (carotenoid) and blue-refracting structure.  Get out the test tube and solvents, fellows!


Marvin Emery has been working for 20 years digesting all available material on the 900 or so species of pigeons and doves in the world.  He has completed the manuscript now, intending to print and publish it himself, but is holding off in hopes of getting a lower price on the desired kind of paper.  This will be a massive book, making all previous surveys out-of-date.  Wish we could be an angel.  Emery also notes that a Jacobin breeder of Springfield, Illinois, Elmer Peters, has a poser: a pair of typical black-and-white Jacobins produced a self-black youngster, an unheard-of situation in the breed.


Wilmer Miller reports that several of his ring doves in the past year have died of gout.  He says, they get thin, and white pustules appear under the skin of the feet.  Autopsy shows deposits of urates in the viscera and feet.  Special sensitivity to too-high proteins level?....  Miller is hoping to obtain examples of true albino ring doves of Japanese stock.


Phil Roof writes "you mentioned in the last PGNL, my "cumbersome" crossing procedure in the recessive red Turbit project.  The procedure is exactly what was ordered by the doctor--Doc.  Hollander!"  (I didn't remember, but profuse apologies.  My advice isn't always given on good days.)  Phil goes on to marvel at "the ease with which white (real white) and the Turbit marking is overcome.  I showed several young Owls at the Baltimore club meet.  Each one was at least 1/4 Turbit, yet no white at all.  In the pieds produced which are 1/2 to 3/4 Turbits the white is on such places as rump, around vent, and on hocks, and in some cases around eyes and one or two wing flights."  Further, "when Hanssen was in England last summer he visited the famous Tumbler breeder who breeds only yellow LFCL's....  The most beautifully colored he had seen...., yet they have been bred, year after year, yellow to yellow, with no out crossing on reds...  If I were to try it, they would bleach out in shield immediately!"


This problem of the bleached or whitened effect in recessive reds and yellows is certainly worth more study.  I found a reference recently on the subject in French by R. Lienhert: "Charactere tenoiraure de certaubes retiyrs ataviques."; Comptes Rendus, Societe of Biologie (Paris) 121:86-89.  Lienhert considered such bleached reds in the Carneau "throwbacks" to the Miroite de Damas, but he points out that after molting the birds are perfectly good red.  This change is rather the reverse of the "white sides" effect, where the whitening occurs with the molt .  Perhaps there is a nutritional angle?? 




Ted Smith argues that the white side effect is due to close linkage of a recessive lightning factor with the recessive red factor.  But Lynn Hummel, Swallow specialist in Missouri, has shown that it just takes more pluckings to make his blues turn white: the reds are more "responsive."


Variation of stenciling with the molt also puzzles Mickey Calegory: "I have noticed that light-laced birds or white-barred Bluettes....  sometimes in cold weather grow in a whole-colored or discolored feather....  Later, I have plucked out these "bad" feathers" to get back uniformity.  "Also I believe that heavy breeding has a marked effect on these feather changes."  (From light to dark or whole-colored).  Note that Mickey does not use the word "self"--he disapproves of it as ambiguous.


George Neuerburg comments on grease quills: "occurred in Show Homers and Scandaroons of mine.  With Show Homers only yellow were so affected; in Scandaroons, all colors were subject to it though in neither breed did it seem to enhance color intensity."


In the last PGNL (page 4)  I objected to George Schroeder's term "faded almond."  He explains it as follows: Jack B. Rollins obtained an almond Homer cock from Carl Graefe and mated him with a blue check hen.  One of the daughters was "almost the same color as the faded blue hens from the auto-sex, but also had the three colors in the feathers as the almonds have....  Over the years she has added more of the black spots and more of the typical reddish almond tinge....  Her base color is still the faded blue.  From this hen, many sons (flying Homer and later Giant Homer crosses) were produced with the same coloration."  Further breeding results also indicate that it is a new allele of almond and faded.  I tentatively suggest that a better name for it, suggestive of its discoverer, might be “fadellin.”


Schroeder has also developed variations of auto-sexing colors.  One is based on S, giving faded black hens.  The whiteish cocks "show only faded black flecking, while other whiteish cocks have more than one color in the flecking; like to know why."  The probable explanation is that the S factor does not permit bronzing tendencies, which readily appear in blues.  Schroeder has also developed his own faded ash-red cross-over combinations and makes it sound easy!  These big operators have the knack.


Along that line of thought, Del James contributes a distillation of experienced wisdom: "you seldom get champions from a pair of champions unless you interbreed their F1s and select from the best of the F2s and breed back on their grandpappy and grand mammy."  (Just what I've recommended all along--pretzel breeding!  Out, in, around and back.).


R.  G. Silson has been arguing with me the merits of his carefully worked out plans for progeny testing of squabbing stock.  This gets pretty deep into population-genetics theory, but the argument he presents goes thus: there is a limit to heterosis from simple crossing, and further  advance depends on breaking linkages so that more "good" factors can be incorporated at a time.  His progeny test system is designed to reveal such advances, so that they can be exploited.  The genetics of this is probably sound, but the economics bothers me.


Dr. Hannaford Schafer writes from Australia to say that "Mr. A. L. Grace of New York tells me that he is stepped up production of his purebred Trumpeters by feeding Terramycin.  In fancier language when birds have been extensively inbred, and we're having difficulty in breeding them, we are inclined to refer to them as being ‘bred-out’ or just ‘done’.”  He wonders now, whether it




 is a genetic matter or intestinal flora?  Well, shall we take our Terramycin with a grain of salt?


On the subject of Trumpeters, Dr. Schafer notes a lot of crosses he has made with the Bokharas , "owing to the lack of stamina in my Red and Yellow."  F1 from Swallows "were all shell crested that did not have any rose or beak crest.  These were mated back to red Trumpeter hens, and the 3/4-bred birds with two exceptions all had a forehead rose and increased width of shell crest."  He notes that those lacking rose were "heavily browed."  A second back cross completely restored Trumpeter type, except the voice.  Trumpeting was obtained from later mixtures.  "Conclusion, trumpeting is a gene, recessive, and is not lost forever by out-crossing."


Werner Moebes comments on feed blindness, saying that in Germany and it is "considered as a disease of the brain, disturbing functions, as a light epilepsy."  He also sends a review of a 1956 book, "The Last Passenger Pigeon."  By James R.  Johnson.  (N. Y., McMillan).  A surprising error was found in the book, that these birds laid two legs (instead of only one) per nest.


Harold Gordon says "some of my best-typed hens (S. F. Moreheads, Ancients) when mated to a good type (related) male refuse to become broody or "set" and just lay eggs on the floor to be forgot.  When some of these same hens (rarely) do set and hatch their young, no attempt was made to feed their newly hatched young."  Could this stock of short-faces  be deficient in prolactin production?  Ray Gilbert says his SF Tumblers are "the most devoted parents I know."  Anyway, Harold wants "a successful substitute for pigeon milk."  Calling Neuerburg, Calegory, Miller!  Incidentally, Wilmer Miller reports that "the German author who says egg yoke is enough is full of baloney."


Harold Gordon sends tail feathers from a young Ancient, raised from black by recessive red, which are apparently dusky ash-red (S?), but unusual in having a double tail band-- dark tip, then a light band, and then a dark reddish band, and then light to base.  I suspect the ribbontail problem is related to it.


George Neuerburg wonders "when you refer to "grizzle" do you mean the color/marking that is a type most often seen in Dragoons or just any irregular marking or splashing of any color?"  Well, the history of grizzle genetics is discussed in Levi's work, but this more study is needed.  Grizzle homozygotes are generally called "stork"-colored.  We don't know whether the "Tiger" types involved modifiers or a different allele (analogy—faded : almond).  Tests with the blue should eventually expose their relation (see PGNL 4 page 2).  A closely related problem is the role of grizzle in the Brander (bronze Tippler) color.  Carl Graefe notes that a pair of these birds produced a "Stipper."  See also PGNL 2 page 3.


Ben Cichinski supplements his notes on beak malocclusion (PGNL 5 page 4): four of the birds have cross-beaks.  He also reports a mosaic hen, F1 from red self Vienna by white-barred Prague.  "She is primarily blue, with rather fair white bars, has one tail feather almost all red....  And fairly well defined saddle marking of reddish feathers on shoulders and back."


Two other mosaics have been reported: George Neuerburg has a "strawberry" ash-red Show Homer cock, "with black patch on each side of his back extending into the secondaries and a black streak through one eye on the side of his head.  His father was a black self, mother, a white with ash-red ancestry."  Dr. Stovin has a mealy (ash-red) Racing Homer (hen?)  that has "a small area of blue just below the beak and on the left side of the neck.  In addition, a number of the tail feathers on either side heavily splashed with black."  The bird was "from a pairing of heterozygotes mealy male by yellow bar female."


Recently I have discovered a considerable store of pigeon articles in the Journal of Horticulture (London) from about 1860-1880.  Here are extracted items:

B. P. Brent, vol. 2. page 20 (1861) says "if the eggs of pigeons are removed and therefore been sat upon and carefully kept, they will remain good for hatching for about a fortnight."

(Three other references are given of no particular interest.) 





Pigeon Genetics News Letter



Issue 7                                    July 1958


Edited quarterly by W. F. Hollander, Genetics Department, Iowa State College, Ames.  Sponsored 1958 by Iowa State College Agricultural Experiment Station


I have an inquiry from Michael Monsour, about crossing ring-neck doves with Racing Homers.  He has had some hatches, but none survived.  Apparently he had not tried doves for foster parents.


Oscar J. Malloy writes me that a 1955 red Argent Modena (apparently recessive red) cock changed color in his third molt: many white feathers came in the head, neck and breast, the result looking grizzle-mottle.  No Gazzi is in the ancestry for many generations.  None of the birds progeny has shown anything like this.


PGNL got a publicity noticed from Moebes in a recent issue of the Die Reisetaube (Essen, Germany).  As a result I have a letter from W. O. Grimm, telling of his raising albino Homers from an inbred stock....  Incidentally, if anyone would like a young pair of heterozygotes for the albinoism found in Racing Homers, let me know.  (See PGNL 6 page 1.).


In a recent issue of the Geflügel Börse (Leipzig), 1958 number 6, page 3.  There is an article on "Pommersche Schaukappen" (Pomeranian Show-caps), a unique variety of crested highfliers having a tuft of feathers over each eye like an eyebrow.  Since this was not described in Levi's The Pigeon, I asked Marvin Emery for comments.  He says it goes back at least 50 years; Dürigen, 1906, Geflügelzucht, page 525 uses the name "Schaukappiger Tümmler."  Wittig, Spruijt, Jürgens all described and figure it.  “The Poles consider it a native Polish race and call it “Sokol daszkocki."  (Falcon with tiles over eyes).  They are supposed to come from the same stocks from whence came the Danziger Tumbler --some crested Polish pigeon."


Dr. G. L. Clark is puzzling over bronzing in his black and blue Tumblers, which is of varying degrees, and often less in adults than young.  He says "I note you have omitted from the new




edition of Levi and that a heterozygous e can promote bronzing of all sorts."  (First edition, page 222 top left).  Omission was not intentional in the revision--promoting effect still seems valid.  Thanks for calling attention to the oversight!


I had just received (dated August 1957).  The "Report of the International Committee on Genetic Symbols and Nomenclature," published as "International Union of Biological Sciences, series B, number 30," assisted by U.N.E.S.C.O.  It is six short pages.  The committee says, among other things, "it is clear that periodic revisions of nomenclature conventions will be called for by the progress of genetics....  But well-established names and symbols should not be changed unless new results make the old terms scientifically meaningless or misleading."  Also recommended: "symbols of hereditary factors, derived from their original names, should be written in Roman letters of distinctive type, preferably in italics, and be as short as possible."  "Standard or wild-type alleles are designated by the gene symbol with plus as a superscript or by plus with the gene symbol as a superscript.  In formula, a plus alone may be used."


John Tidwell says he obtained 4 pairs of Richard Whitney's feeders for Tumblers.  The feeders are Racing Homers.  One cock appeared to be a mealy, but "over the past 3 year process he has been mated to at least seven different Homer hens" without producing any ash-red progeny.  Fortunately John included feathers, which I could identify as (recessive) opal.  Another case of mistaken identity.  John says further "I'm still hacking away at black Whiteside Tumblers."


John Strombaugh wonders why some of his blue check Strassers have no checking on the wing- butt region.  Maybe heterozygotes for barless??  He also has a color problem in his Rollers: "a Pensom and blue bar hen on a barless cock of my breeding (pure blue bred) produced 1 cock and one hen blue bars, also five young ash-red, all cocks of very good Pensom type."  If these reds are not recessive red, I'll bet they are heterozygous for barless.  Finally he describes "a pastel shade of cream" Chinese Owls, called "Isabel."  He has a pair of them, "cock out of the white cock by yellow hen, and the hen is from a pair of blues."  Probably dilute brown?


In the NPA bulletin, April, page 6, the secretary inserted a piece by me "On the Origins of Domestic Genes: 1.  Brown."  George Neuerburg thinks I am mistaken on one point: I stated that brown apparently does not occur in Nuns, but he says "I have owned, bred and judged hundreds of Nuns, and I never saw a dun; all the so-called duns I ever saw shown were browns."  I still say they were not brown!  How do we settle the issue?  George concludes "did Miss Sgro ever get the fruit pigeons?"  (Haven't heard.)


Ted Smith reports that he has introduced dilution into the Mookee, and is next trying to introduce dominant opal.  Then he poses some brain-teasers: "as almond and faded are dominant mutations on one locus, isn't it possible to have a recessive mutant on the same locus?...  Reduced could have a dominant mutation, et cetera.???"  Maybe so.  We have a comparable example in checker and T-pattern, dominant mutants, with barless as a recessive at the same locus.  Another example is ash-red (dominant) and brown (recessive) at another locus.  But finding those new mutants and testing them may take centuries, at the present rate!


Hayward Clark wonders what I think of the late Roy Payne's theory that "Young cocks take after their mother's father and young hens after their father's mother.  Roy Payne bred Dragoons and




Pouters along these lines, and did very well with them."  Unfortunately Roy Payne refused to discuss chromosomes, so he was only half-safe at best.


George Schroeder reports two blue progeny, from almond mothers, which appear to be cocks.  I await proof.  Of course, mutation from almond to wild type alleles is possible to explain this.  But I am reminded of an old expert who commented on how to tell a young cock: "see if it turns out to be a hen."  After wrestling with dilution versus brown, long down versus short, etc., Schroeder comments "anyway it keeps one mind off his troubles-- thank heaven it isn't simple!"


Gerhard Hasz puts it another way: "Woe is me!  If I had never gotten involved with this genetics business maybe I could sleep nights.  On the other hand, maybe I wouldn't have so much fun."  He scrutinizes my answer to Dr. Stovin (PGNL 6 page 2) and sees a big flaw: what if that recessive red hen is also hiding, BA??


Could well be--Dr. Stovin reports that when he mated a brown grizzle cock with a recessive red hen, he obtained "one red check with ash tail and slatey brown-red flights."  "So far as my experience goes an ash-red bird with slatey-brown-red flights always is heterozygous for recessive red.  Do you agree?  Would not this suggest that the name recessive red is a bad one.  And that this color might need re-naming?"  I agree that recessive red has some heterozygous expression in this case, as well as the promotion of bronzing (mentioned earlier).  But the naming of a factor ordinarily is based on its relation to wild type.  Therefore I see no need for revolution here.


HP Macklin has crossed a dark bronze (black-winged) Archangel cock with a red-barred whitewing Archangel.  The progeny was a "red self cock showing slight checking and faded tail."  A bit of evidence for concluding that the Whitewing variety is ash-red (plus bronzing, plus something else lightening the ash?).  I am coming to the same clue conclusion for the Marawdi Dewlap as well as the Lebanon (Miroite de Damas), tests of which I shall report in a later issue.


Macklin also reports that another cross: "Having a pair of white Valencian Pouters which were so inbred the young always died in the nest, I let the hen hatch 2 eggs fertilized by a blackwinged dark bronze Archangel.  Both youngsters were a good clear, evenly marked blue checkered.  One had several white flights in each wing and later died.  The other, a cock, showed no signs of Archangel type, the globe clearly showing Pouter tendencies, though not nearly so large.  The "Roman nose "characteristic of the Valencian and was plainly visible in the cross; even the tail  showed a slight concave tendency when flying.  I mated him back on the pure white Valencian hen, his mother.  They have produced six young.  Five are white selfs, one blue checkered with some white flights and rump.  The type is coming almost full Valencian now, even the tail showing the definite concave form when flying."  Unregenerate old-timers may wink knowingly and say "cock for color, hen for type!"


Donald G. Weaver, has been studying the relationship between the weight of squabs at 28 days to sex in his squabbing white Kings.  He has sent me batches of data to examine.  For example in 1952 with apparently no size selection, he found that the 438 squabs which later turned out to be cocks had averaged 21.55 ounces live weight, and the 418 which turned out to be hens had averaged 21.012 ounces.  This is about a 3% sex difference on the average.  (Plenty of females weighed more than the average male.)  It is curious that Kings have such a minor sex difference




in weight.  As discussed in PGNL number 3, the possibility of a sex-link factor in size difference needs to be investigated.  Riddle (1947, Endocrines and Constitution and Doves and Pigeons, Chapter 2) gave data on mature weights in about a dozen different types; he found no obvious sex difference in Kings or in Magpies, the others have males heavier, up to an average of 12%.


Speaking of sex, Marvin Emery notes that his Spanish Alinegros (Barb-like head, frilled neck, plumage mostly white) show a sort of auto-sexing: "all the males I have bred had a deep red color in the cere, while the females, by contrast are conspicuously pale.  I have not bred many birds, about a dozen, more females than males.  A few came with partial black beaks and ceres.  I have checked with Senor Brage in Spain, and he wrote me "same thing here, all the males have dark red ceres, while the females are pale red."


Emery also says, "To me one of the oddest color patterns I've heard of is that the Czechs have all-white swing Pouters with black wing bars!  The pattern is not fixed, but they occur from time to time.  An old Czech pigeon man here told me, 50 years ago in Bohemia he either had them or had seen them.  About five years ago or so the secretary of the Czech NPA wrote me that they still have them.  But the bars are not fixed."....  Gerhardt Hasz has an easier one: "How in the world do they put a white bar on a black pigeon?"  (Same as on or red--see PGNL number five, page 3).  Black bars on white = pied ice?


Harold Gordon reports that his Ancient with "double tail bar" PGNL number 6, page 5) has molted in identical tail marking.  Concerning "Mohawk hairdo", "I have a red hen about three years old, originally a "Mohawk" when a youngster, last September it started to molt; face and head feathers dropped out.  Now looks like "vulture" condition."  Another bird, hatched March, 1957, "Not a Parlor Tumbler.  This female started to molt last September and neck and part of head never feathered in, identical in appearance (baldness) to Romanian Chuag-kel and Spanish Bareneck pigeons."


Dr. Whitney has turned up a couple of ideas: "in a nest of a red check cock in a blue bar pie hen one white and one brown egg.  The difference is as marked as one finds in a white and a brown hen's egg."  Temporary disturbance of the oviduct?.  New to me.  He also writes: "I found a Homer in a pet shop with what appears to be the same type of body build and plumage which occurs in the English Longflight Budgerigar.  It has 11 flights."  Wonder if he was sold as a Swift?


Dr. Stevens says "I've been working with a pair of red Chinese Owls, the cock exhibiting rather distinct fluting on both wings.  The five youngsters produced to date have not developed this characteristic."  He would like to get comments from other breeders on "fluting".  Unfortunately I'm not sure what he is referring to: curling up of the tips of the wing coverts, or waviness of the  flights?  The Frillback of course as both of these.


Jack Zimmerman notes in an article in Science News Letter of February 1 on a skin graft reaction thought to be useful in predicting progeny features from any two tested animals, and wonders whether it would be worth trying in pigeons.  Sounds screwy, but?


Colin Osman writes: "In answers in The Racing Pigeon in 1956 we reported that Bill Blackaby , a well-known South London fancier, states that (fresh) eggs can be kept for three weeks easily and still hatched out under feeders.  I myself have hatched them after a fortnight.  The most important part is that the eggs must be turned daily."




Al Westling comments.  "Ever since I got started with the reduced factor I've had roughly a third of the hens that have a tendency to lay soft-shelled eggs.  Or at least with rough shells.  I wonder if you had any similar reports?"  A fair portion of my reduced hens have shown the same thing, usually after a year or two.  I suspect that a lopsided diet such as eating too much corn may play a part but these birds seem extra susceptible.  It is almost incurable but has generally been improved with a high-wheat diet....  Del James (no reduced) says "use of cocks whose dam and sisters produce eggs of sound shell texture overcomes thin and porous eggs in the F1s from a mating to a hen that lays eggs of questionable shell quality."  Poultry men have found both genetic and environmental variables important.


Al Westling has sent me a new mosaic, Tumbler hen: mostly grizzle reduced, but with several plain blue tail feathers and some blue on the back....  Del James writes.  "Now we have two mosaic cocks from pairs in individual breeding cages.  Bipaternity doesn't seem to be the answer?"  Well, how about more details?!  Two distinct papas are not essential, just so the available sire is heterozygous for the factor in question and therefore producing two or more types of sperms.  Or he could be homozygous recessive.


I had the opportunity to browse a bit in back volumes of the British periodical Pigeons and Pigeon World, published by Fancy Press Ltd., Cheshire, England.  In the October 1953 issue, page 8, is this letter from L. C. Holman; "I have been studying all the Archangels which have been exhibited at shows visited by me this year.  And I'm astounded to find that the winners this year are in most instances the same as the majority of the classic show winners of 1952.  They almost all suffer from a foot deformity, which in some cases is only a slight webbing and others approaches a club foot, covered in a type of calouse, which gives the bird a most distasteful appearance.  "These birds have been placed first or second in most cases because they are best on show in luster and other points, but I'm wondering if it is not essential for all shows specimens to secure prize to be first of all perfect in the normal requirements of a living pigeon..  Surely we should not award prizes to deformed birds or animals however much they excel in other respects."  In the next issue, page 11, this response appears from A. Glew:  "I would like to support Mr. Holman's letter in last month's "Pigeons in Pigeons World", Re: Archangels with webbed feet.  Not only have birds with this deformity been in the prize lists, but they have been awarded NPA certificates.  I think the Archangel club would be well to discourage the exhibition of these birds.  Should judges continue to award prizes to birds with this fault, the breed is in danger of becoming a member of the duck family.  I have proved it to be a hereditary.  Does this fault appear in  any other breed?"  No reply seems ever to have appeared.






Pigeon Genetics News Letter



Issue 8                                      October 1958


Edited quarterly by W. F. Hollander, Genetics Department, Iowa State College, Ames.  Sponsored 1958 by Iowa State College Agricultural Experiment Station


Wendell Levi calls attention to a color plate in the National Geographic Magazine for July, pages 14-15, of a free flock of nearly a thousand pigeons at the mosque-like tomb of Hazrat Ali in northern Afghanistan.  The amazing feature is that all of the birds resemble white Mondaines.


Ted Smith notes the ad of a "sex detector" in the American Pigeon Journal for August, page 248.  He says, "it is very surprising the number of fanciers that believe in these sex detectors.  One of the local fanciers, now passed on, remarked to me that the new one he had didn't work very well, but the old one he had really was something."


Speaking of really something about sex, here is an incredible item: in the Journal of Wildlife Management, volume 17, page 541, (1953), C. W. Cossack and H. C. Hanson state that nest-mate mourning doves always have the same sex.  They dissected 21 pair's of squabs, of which 13 pairs were males and eight pairs females.  It may not be easy to disprove this because of legal protection of the doves, but Carl Graefe had a male-female clutch (The Auc, volume 62, page 300, 1945).


George Schroeder has interesting items:

1.  "The two blue offspring from almond hens have both proven to be hens."  (See PGNL seven, page 3).  Sex linkage wins again!

2. A flying Homer hen out of Almond parents "appears to be a faded ash-red check but has a sort of lacing on the ends of the feathers.  I mated her to a blue check cock and all I



get are blue check squabs."  I'll bet the hen is opal, not faded ash-red.

3.  "My six weeks-old blind almond squab has learned to find food and water.  He was a downless (or very short-down) squab....  Pure white.  Eyes bulge and are watery grey."  The bird is from a pair of almonds, so it's probably a homozygote, and the eyes probably lack the lens.  According to Ray Gilberts experience, flecking may show in later molts.

4.  "Rollins is testing 'fadellins' for endurance, stamina....  They're doing quite well (400 mile flight in one case, I believe)."  (See PGNL six, page 4).

5.  "I now have one whiteish cock from the fadellin strain."  The eyes apparently are normal as in homozygous faded cocks rather than homozygous almond.

6.  "I've waded through most of the Srb and Owen (textbook, 'General Genetics')."  Stealing a march on the rest of us!


Dr. Michael Monsour (see PGNL 7, page 1), writes, "I finally made it after three years--a live, flyable hybrid."  The sire is a blond ringnecked dove, the damn a blue checkered Stassart Racing Homer.  A photo of the happy family shows the hybrid apparently dark blue, so probably a male.  Dr. Monsour says another squab was coming along also, but "not quite as pretty in color".  Maybe blond (= dilute), and therefore a hen.  Monsour adds,  "My objective is to start a new racing breed."  I fear I've ruined three years of enthusiasm pointing out that mules are rather sterile.


Wilmer Miller sends feathers of the hybrid out of a "reduced" cock pigeon by blond (= dilute), silky ringnecked dove.  The feathers are plain blue.  Any amateurs care to figure out this result?


George Neuerburg has an article on "The Native wild pigeon of the West" in the Los Angeles Pigeon Club bulletin for August, page 5.  This is a short note on the Band-Tail Pigeon, with three photos of tame specimens.  He says 2 females mated with a Racing Homer; two hybrids were so far in the nest.  It will be interesting to see whether the hybrids (if they mature) develop the yellow foot color of the Columba fasciata parent.  Incidentally, I recall that Dr. L. J. Cole of the University of Wisconsin raised a male hybrid from a similar cross, but it is quite sterile.


Don Shaw tells us that pigeons and doves appear to be able to survive radiation doses five times as large as ordinary animals.  He cites an Atomic Energy Committee report in 1948 from the city of Rochester (N.Y.), code number UR-38, pages 13-18.  Since the spleen seems to be a vital organ in radiation resistance, I am wondering whether it was perhaps shielded by the gizzard stones??


I have had an inquiry about the occurrence of artherosclerosis (fatty degeneration of the inner wall of arteries) in pigeons from Dr. R. T. Blohm of a pharmaceutical company in Cincinnati.  He tells me he has found some lesions in the aorta of  young male White and Silver Kings.  Puzzling.




L. F. Tharpe tells of a small-operation squab breeder who developed a remarkably gentle and consistent squabbing stock.  The birds are blue T pattern, about the size of Hungarians, and were developed over about 10 years by selection following a Hungarian by Maltese cross.


A. Kermit Krueger, a breeder of Rollers has sent me a "wingless" Roller hen.  This hen is abnormal in just exactly the same way as the "wingless" white Carneau illustrated in Levi's "The Pigeon" (1957, page 334).  The color is yellow with some white, and she has laid eggs.  Maybe I can get a test.


Del James writes, "many of us breeders are finding polydactyly just as disturbing when showing on only a 1 foot as when on both.  Unlike Levi's, youngsters hatch out are just as viable as normals and too ----productive!  Would one-footed polydactyly be just accidental or would there be an inhibiting gene involved?  Or mosaic?".  This is a probable example of "variable expressivity".  Many mutations involving skeletal pattern in animals seem rather uncertain as to details.  The idea of mosaicism is worth considering though.  I've been studying this type of polydactyly, obtained in Show King stock, for a number of years.  Some squabs failed to hatch and have more extreme abnormality.


Ben Cichinski has finally got around to answering my query in PGNL three, (page 2) whether Kings could have messed up his pedigrees.  His reply: "No!"  But his special news this time is that his mosaic hen (PGNL six, page 5) has produced a mosaic son.  (Sire not stated).  Photos he sent showed a head and right wing entirely recessive red, while the rest of the bird is mixed black and red and a motley pattern.  This is the first case on record, so far as I know, of a mosaic producing a mosaic.


Much correspondence on colors and patterns in the last quarter.  Part of it was kicked off by your editor's foot-in-mouth attitude: my articles in the National Pigeon Association bulletins.  As noted in PGNL 7, page 2, George Neuerburg disagreed with me on whether "dun" Nuns are dilute or brown.  However, he was unable to go onto a breeding test that I suggested, since he has no Nuns.  Norman Lindsay comes to George's defense as follows:  "All of my so-called dun Nuns are long-downed when hatched and fade very readily in the sun."  Lindsay gives me the coup de grace too: "I have produced several brown (long down) youngsters from white self L.F.C.L. Tumbler cock and dun L.F.C.L. hens.  I have produced several so-called sulfur checked Modenas that were long down in the nest."  I'm weakening, fellows!  But the eye can be deceived even on down length; and my last gasp is that bronzing in brown birds is not "sulfur" (yellowish) but red.


In the Los Angeles Pigeon Club bulletin for August, page 3, W. H. Penson writes about "the white bar Schietti" Modena.  He says they appear to come only in silver dun and blue...  I have seen only one white bar black...  The silver dun is often affected with either pearl or an extremely pale yellow eye."  Sounds like the brown factor again.




Norman Lindsay says "The whitening effect is my biggest problem in Red Gazzi.  The ones that have the least smut in the tail and rump seem to have the most pearling as we call it.  I've had the reverse experience from Mr. Leinhart.  Mine get whiter after the molt."  Wonder what would happen if selection were relaxed on this-- would the pattern eventually look like that of Helmets?  Incidentally he sends feathers from a red Helmet for identification; they are typically recessive red.


Further comment from Lindsay: "I have also seen yellow bred to yellow year after year with the same results Mr. Roof observed.  Schietti Modenas bred by T. B. McDonald of Fort Worth, Texas.  He kept only four pair each year breed from...  Eventually bred out the white band that often appears on each side of the tail."  Maybe S factor?  And finally: "I am in my F3 and F4 matings of my Nun by Tumbler crosses now.  I am using only crested birds, culling for head confirmation and crest with no regard for color or markings.  Magpie markings are quite prevalent... no crested birds with markings even similar to a Nun."


"Stork Pigeons" is the title of a blurb by me in the August issue of the National Pigeon Association bulletin.  In it I made this comment: "Are stork pigeon a breed?  No, this color variety can be produced in almost any breed as desired."  I proceeded to explain that is merely homozygous grizzle.  Well, George Neuerburg had me at his mercy again.  I had forgotten entirely about the Stork "breed" of Toys, which is a piebald type rather than involving the grizzles factor.


Wendell Levi asks my opinion about the color photo of the American Racing Pigeon News for May, a winning "chocolate" hen.  He says "presumably it is an opal, but it doesn't look very much like the opals that we produced.  Is there possibily another color that they call chocolate that I am unfamiliar with?"  I haven't seen the photo, so am going to call on Stanley Witomski for opinion.  He has bred opals for years, and may be able to check the actual bird.


While on the topic of color in Homers, we should belatedly mention articles which appeared last winter in The Racing Pigeon (London).  Colin Osman’s "Color and Pattern" was in the January 18 issue, pages 43-44.  This is a general survey, and seems well done except for the blunder on white, which is divided into two sub-types, "dominant white with black claws and beak" and "recessive....  or Albino White".  Wish it were so simple: Harry Tomkinson commented intelligently on Osman’s article, in the March 1 issue, pages 143-144, and noted that distinction between albino and dark- eyed whites is necessary.  He also adds a comment on minor piebaldness: "I find that it is almost impossible to breed out hens with white eye ticks," in one strain.


Dr. Stovin inquires about "eye ticks" also; my guess is that this is a relic of the crosses with the Turbit when the Belgians bred the Smerle, Antwerp etc.  Not only the eye tic but white claws, hocks, vent, flights, etc. may appear.  It is just one of the flock of problems involved in the genetics of piebaldness, in which we are making little progress.




Dr. Stovin also inquires about dark edging of blue or other light wing coverts (not with S) in a certain squabs.  He uses the term "picotee" for the effect.  I don't know what causes it, but it generally disappears after the molt.  Maybe nutritional (slight vitamin-D deficiency?).


Earl Klotz sends feathers of a bird that has him stumped: a "light tan" cock.  "Out of a pair of heterozygous dominant opal bars, both of which carry recessive red...  The sire carries pale...  Mated this tan cock to a blue hen.  Six youngsters so far, all dominant opal bars, two of them pale."  I'd say the bird is homozygous dominant opal recessive red (and heterozygous for pale).  Very pretty, too.  Should be named "Tea Rose"!


Ted Smith says "your letters used to leave me with worse than chaos.  Now they only tend to confuse me." (Progress!)  "Will send some feathers and a little later to run through that Ouija board."  Ouija board?  - it's done with gene actions, and the probable interactions.  Order, not chaos!  (Usually.).


Ed Blaine is busy.  He announces a new squab, named Bob.


In the August American Pigeon Journal, page 248, is an article on "Hereditary Cataracts in pigeons", mainly in one family of Show Racers.  Since the submission of that manuscript.  I have found an article on cataracts in chickens, of several breeds, in Poultry Science, volume 37, pages 420-422, 1958.  Cause not determined.


R. J. MacArthur, a squab breeder, asks me for information on the possibility of robbing breeding pairs of eggs regularly for a year or two.  Dr. Riddle did that in some of his early experiments.  I think that with good nutrition and minimal contagious disease it will work all right.  However, he says other authorities have been more pessimistic, predicting that the hens will "break down".  Actual data on such an experiment would be more convincing.  Who has some?


John Stevens says the "fluting" he referred to (PGNL 7, page 4) was of the wing coverts.  His newest experiment is to cross out a black Correra (Spanish version of the Chinese Owl) with a yellow Chinese Owl cock.  He reports that some of the swabs have developed "a head profiled that resembles the Show Homer with a beak structure much larger than either of the parents."  Body size also bigger than the parents.  Heterosis?






Pigeon Genetics News Letter




Issue 9                                January 1959


Edited quarterly by W. F. Hollander, Genetics Department, Iowa State College, Ames.  Sponsored 1959 by Iowa State College Agricultural Experiment Station.


Dr. S. C. Dellinger, curator of the University Museum in Fayetteville, Arkansas, is organizing an exhibit of variation of pigeons.  He wants help in locating a taxidermist who can make stuffed pigeons look natural.  Help!!


Carl Graefe says a "rare color exhibit" is being organized for the National Show in Milwaukee.  I hope to attend.


Paul Steiden reports on Gerhard Hasz, enthusiastically studying a rare bird at Louisville last summer.  Suddenly he lost interest.  "No wonder it looks so unusual-- I forgot to take off my sunglasses."


Joe Frazier notes that he too is a rare-color enthusiast.  Breeds Giant Homers in barless, reduced, indigo, faded, et cetera.




Ed Blaine has a propaganda piece in the October 1 issue of the new monthly paper "Pigeons".  His title--"Pigeon breeding and a touch of genetics."  (His idea is that genes in various combinations control characteristics, and it should be appreciated).


George Neuerburg says the Band-tail pigeon hybrids (PGNL 8, page 2) died in the nest.  Until then the feet looked not yellow.  He adds, "Years ago, Captain R. R. Delhauer showed an adult hybrid of this sort--apparently a female--and as I remember it had red legs and showed very little if any of the appearance of a Band-tail."


I have a letter from Alfred F. Haindl, who learned of Dr. Monsour's dove-pigeon crosses (PGNL  8, page 2.)  He says "Hal Amman of Woodcrest, California, produced 2 ringneck male by Tippler crosses.  The first was successfully trained to 100 miles with his team of racers."


W. F. Holmes writes that he has "given up my pigeons after 50 years."  Some of his rare-colored Modenas have reached California-- Dodd Young has faded bronzes from this source.


Wendell Levi forwards in inquiry from W. Watmough, editor of "Fur and Feather" (Idle, Bradford, England), about "sunset" color in Schietti Modenas.  Feather samples were reddish with hazy wing pattern and dusky red tail band.  Such birds, came out of matings of bronzed blues, so I surmise the color is probably "unimproved" recessive red.


R. G. Silson comments on recessive reds in Racing Homers in England, "described as chocolate by racing men."  He also says, "ash-red faded seems to be fairly common in Racing Homers."  Without considerable evidence, I cannot believe that, as faded would also be expected to occur.  Much more likely he has seen opal ash-reds.


Re: the note in PGNL 8, page 1, about flocks of white pigeons in Afghanistan, Silson says this "reminds me of the place in Baroda, India, where vast flocks of white birds lived on the lawns.  I am not sure of the type."


Finally, Silson requests a full reference on the textbook, "General Genetics."  Authors Srb and Owen, published in San Francisco, W. H. Freeman & Co., 1952.


David Bruce has been examining another textbook, "Principles of Heredity" by L. H. Snyder and P. R. David, published Boston, Massachusetts, DC Heath & Co., 1957.  He asks about a statement (page 107) that a sex-linked lethal gene exists in the "Rosy Gier" variety of "carrier pigeons".  I have protested to the authors of the book that they have dredged up this unsupported item (from a French paper by Lienhart, 1937-see the Levi bibliography) and ignored valid pigeon genetics material much closer to home.


The fact is that the textbooks have given pigeons a raw deal (or none at all).  I blame it partly on the fact that the general educational possibilities with pigeons have not been exploited.  Whoever heard of a loft on the school roof? 




Ted Smith doesn't think proper genetical terminology for colors is appropriate in shows.  "Imagine entry blanks and classifications in the premium list?  One entry in a thousand would be  filled out properly - percentage now is just a little better."


John Tidwell explodes, "One of two things is going to have to happen--either less time spent on my jobs or less on pigeons!"  This clearly demonstrates the dependence of genetics on labor-saving devices.  In the other direction (?)  Herman Smith reports 24 new individual breeding pens.


George Schroeder notes "two faded hens are sharing one whiteish cock and both raising young regularly.  We've had such triangles before, but they never seemed as productive as this one.  The cock seems to be on the nest or feeding all the time.  And I think he would soon tire of the arrangement, if he wasn't a young fellow."


Dr. Stovin describes "a young ash no bar grizzle.  I notice that, on weaning, it appeared always to strike the floor about 1/2" or so, behind any grain of corn that it was after.  The bird has solved its own problem by flying onto the scoop, which I carry when feeding, and helping himself...  Though she often has 2-4 pecks without result...  The bird has no difficulty in flying about the loft...joining the young bird kit at exercise."  In a later letter he adds "I have just raised a second "food-blind" squab from the same pair of birds.  In color it is a mealy grizzle similar to the first."  Several other young from this mating were normal.  Pretty good evidence already here that a single recessive abnormality is involved.  If a bit of inquiry is made at medical colleges or Universities, some interested neurologist, ophthalmologist, or behavior analyst should be found who would be tremendously excited to study it.  I hope this gene will not be guillotined!


Wilmer Miller writes "Re: mourning dove sex (PGNL 8, page 1), I'm sure Fred Wagner disapproved Cossack and Hanson's stand.  Fred did field work on them (laparotomy I think).  In fact, that's how we got together on our sexing paper (see Levi bibliography).  I had a male-female clutch too, back in about 1940."  He also sends me photos of several ring doves of one family, unusual in having outer toes crooked and bent inward.


George Neuerburg notes "during the war around here there was a strain or family of Blue Kings that showed many variations of outer toes, the most common being double back toes, mostly in the same outer skin sheath."  I judge that this type of polydactyly is all over the country.


L. F. Tharp sends a newspaper clipping (October 27), stating that a biologist from Memphis State University found thousands of frogs in a lake near Tunica, Mississippi, with an extra pair of hind legs growing out of the back.  Getting back to pigeon backs, Tharp says "King type (uplift tail) appears to be dominant in most crosses (Homers, Croppers)."


H. Eric Burry has an article, "A new auto-sexed color."  In the AP J, November, page 348.  Apparently he is getting dilute faded, with some bronzing.




Harold Gordon sends photos of his two bare necked or vulture female Tumblers.  He states that he gave these birds a shotgun course of vitamin treatments for a number of weeks.  Finally, one of the birds grew in a fairly normal crop of neck feathers.  Both birds "continue to breed right along (with no interruptions)."


George Neuerburg suggests "that down length is also coupled with amount, short-downed birds  having not only shorter hairs that fewer of them."  Strange as it seems, I know of no study of this.  No squabs here to examine just now.  George, how about getting a strong magnifying glass and settling the matter?  He also comments on a strange malady in a valuable male (Show Homer?).  "This bird, a bit over a year old, is in good flesh and feather, eats well, passes what appear to be normal droppings, but for some months now has also passed a gray sticky substance.  The exudate cannot be washed off--I've tried detergent, Clorox solution, rubbing alcohol, and vinegar.  When the accumulation piles up thick enough, it can be crumbled or broken off.  He drinks fantastic quantities of water...  Has been on wire floor...  Always eaten out of covered glass jar."  Germs or genes?


John Fitzgerald says we pigeon peoples should "stay abreast of the space age.  We may find that the pigeon will be aboard the first manned rocket ship, to be released with a message which announces man's safe landing on the moon when the radio transmitter fails."  More seriously, he would like to know the latest information on possible interference of high-powered radio and television with homing.)  This may have nothing to do with genetics, but I must say that if genetics hams had to master intricacies comparable to those of radio hams, where would we be?)


Dodd Young says "I have two homozygous Magnani (almond) cocks.  One has the oval pupil and is near-sighted (no other complications), the other has normal eyes except they are bull."  He also states that grizzle Modenas are now available--news to me.  What origin?  He is aiming for "orange-eyed white Schietti."  So far the only one he produced was a male, sterile.


Bob Clarke says he now lives near "Joe Costa's big squab ranch" which has a lot of auto-sex Kings showing smoky.  Bob says his own project to develop auto-sexing Strasser ran on the rocks--the only gazzi-patterned faded he got so far (hens) were too small.  Since faded was introduced from Kings and the like, sex-linkage of the small size seems unlikely.


Lots of other color notes.  Mickey Calgory reports progress in breeding almond Blondinettes.  Wilmer Miller produced a reduced spread recessive red that looks "pink".  Dr. Hannaford Schafer is starting to produce red Carriers, including ash-red.  Dr. G. L. Clark reports a normal-down "dun" from a pair of black L. F. Tumblers, again indicating that I was wrong in saying brown doesn't occur in Tumblers.  Tharp is progressing well with faded German Beauty Homers and Show Homers, and faded ash-red Show Kings.  Dr. Stovin notes that a pair of checkers produced a spread black squab-but there was another spread cock in the pen.

Collin Osman inventory November 21 issue of "The Racing Pigeon" (London) has an article on "Another barless blue?"  A photo is given, which to me looks like smoky checker, not barless.  In some smoky birds the wing pattern is certainly obscure.




Stanley Witomski answers the question in PGNL 8, page 4, about the color of the bird in the cover picture of American Racing Pigeon News for May.  "Yes, that hen is a recessive opal...  The black and white photo does not do her tri-color appearance justice."  He also notes that "recessive opals are excellent racers, and many have been outstanding."  Further, the reputation of opal hens producing many infertile eggs is not true, except for occasional matings.


Harald Gordon states that "perfect-marked 'Ribbontail' Archangel" have been produced in the loft of Al Herschatter, from cross descendents of white-wing yellow Archangels.


News on mosaics: (1) Dr. Stovin says his mosaic ash-red and blue Homer hen (PGNL.  6, page 5) now has molted in the "several complete blue barred tail feathers".  (2), Wendell Levi and Wilbert Bernshouse report a blue check Show Racer cock with some red covert feathers on each wing.  The "legal" parents are both blue check.  (3), Chester M. Massengale, reports a "1958 hen Giant Homer that is two colors, red and yellow.  The wings are mostly red with all the flight feathers red.  The breast is red.  The two colors in most places are clear and distinct, not mixed.  The bird is from a red cock, and a dun checked hen.  The red cock (father) is from a red hen and a yellow cock."  He wonders how to make a two colored-variety.  (4), John Tidwell has sent me three mosaic African Owls: a 1955 cock and two 1958 daughters.  The cock is dull black with yellow patches around bib and face and on the sides of the body.  He is out of a brown cock by yellow hen.  The daughters are out of a blue hen.  One is light blue (powdered?)  with yellow in the rump and blended in tail,  and a yellow throat patch.  The other is dark blue with a red patch on the back of the head and a yellow patch on the rump.  Jackpot!  John also says "at the Central Tumbler Club young bird meet, Don Parsons was telling me of a nest pair of yellow checkers that both have a black neck patch."





Pigeon Genetics News Letter


Issue 10                             April 1959


Edited quarterly by W. F. Hollander, Genetics Department, Iowa State College, Ames.  Sponsored 1959 by Iowa State College Agricultural Experiment Station


On January 16, I stepped from a zero wind and into a warm cheerful new laboratory for pigeons and doves at the University of Wisconsin.  My chief escort was Don Shaw, who studies encompass pigeon and dove genetics,  with a topping of X-ray effects.  Dr. Irwin has a number of unusual types, including wild species, in the program of blood-antigen analysis.


An interesting side trip to see Jim Telford's adventures in Fantail land.  He is developing various new colors in the breed, including almond, stenciling, and milky combinations.  It may take several years, but good progress.


January 17 was my day at the National Pigeon Show in the Milwaukee Auditorium.  A tremendous display, but many breeds not represented.  I was particularly happy to have the chance to talk with old PGNL cohorts--Bert Peterson, Carl Graefe, Irwin Goss, Wendell Levi, Ray Gilbert, Jim Telford, Herman Smith, Bob Fisher, and also a new one, Joe Frazier.  Fred Fuchs promptly led me to the Racing Homer Alley to witness what to him, an old-timer, was something truly remarkable--an ash-red check cock with a blue check wing.  He couldn't understand how I could look at it and not want to have the bird!  (Too many better ones at home.)


The rare-color exhibit was not organized, but plenty of birds scattered around to discuss.  Do all the glossy rich reds have grease-quills?  Are any of the Carriers not smoky?  Did you see Hummel's Tigers swallows?  Is this Modena brown or dilute?  Is this Giant Homer dilute ash-red or dominant opal ash-red indigo?  Does this Maltese have an oil gland?  Or what makes his tail look split?  Are any of the Norwich Croppers grizzles?  No world-shaking discoveries, but greater appreciation of the chance to check with a big supply of live representatives.


L. F. Tharp is trying to build a new auto-sexing breed, the "Dixie Pouter"; debut planned for 1962.  Show King body, globe, and Homer head, with auto-sexing colors.  For heavier-then-air craft -- Happy landings!




Carl Graefe has a store of data and problems at this time.  He reports seeing definite brown Birmingham Rollers, Domestic Flights, and Modenas.  Also, he says the Racing Homer, breeder Chas. Heitzman has a brown hen and wanted to know how to get more.  How that gene gets around!


Graefe has analyzed an excellent case of mistaken identity: "A good colored (and patterned) yellow Gazzi Modena cock proved to be, as a result of many youngsters from several hens, not dilute but almond, ash-red ee.  How is that for a surprise?"  Also another example, imitation albino effect from dilute brown almond.  He suggests that a compilation of such "Mike and Ike look-likes" be got together.  Send in your favorites for listing!


For problems, Graefe proposes the following brain teasers, which I won't try to answer now, but leave for readers' exercise: (1) could a self-white (male and female) auto-sexing variety be developed?  (2) since the true map order of the sex-linked genes has not yet been worked out (d r St b, d r b St, r d St b, r d b St), what sort of mating set-up would be best for deducing it?


Bert Peterson brings up the question of "third bar".  This is generally not a desired feature in barred varieties, but not understood.  Of course the wild type has a trace of the third bar.  Peterson notes that "Barless Blue Strasser cock mated to Silver Schietti and Blue Schietti Modena hens, both with third bar.  Result, no third bars in five young, they produced except in one young silver the faintest spot of smudge on one feather".  Irwin Goss says he also obtained narrower bars with a similar cross.  Peterson adds.  "The British as a regular mating mate tri-color (Checker) to barred and claim they get a larger percentage of clear wings in their barred Modenas, then mating bar by bar".  The question here is whether the mere fact of heterozygosity is important or whether minor modifying genes are involved.  Perhaps both, in different instances?  I wish someone would select for a real prominent third bar-- might to be show-worthy, if not merely sooty.


Items from Ted Smith: "one of the local Tumbler breeders raised two babies last year in white self with the absence of the back toe on one foot.  Also, our Oriental Roller breeder, Dale Husband, has raised Oriental Rollers like this."  Ted sends feathers from a "Moo-Angel" cock, the tail being quite remarkable, very dark blue except a very light area near the middle of each inner vane.  A sister of the bird has a similar mark (maybe it could be called.  "lichen mark").  This cock, according to Ted, "has a very odd disposition.  From a baby he wouldn't leave my shoelaces or pant cuffs alone, and chases me all over the coop."


The question of twins in pigeons is discussed in the January and February issues of "The Racing Pigeon" by A. Nielson Hutton, and Dr. Stovin.  Nothing new; we are still waiting for a proved case of identical twins.


Dr. Stovin reports that his "food-blind" Racing Homers (PGNL 9  Page 3) and the parental pair are to be taken over by Dr. W. H. Thorpe of the Zoology Department of Cambridge University for thorough study.


Del James reports a "totally blind squab--not even eye ceres or opening of any kind, and complete absence of eyeballs" which died before weaning.  The parents have subsequently produced five more young, all normal.




Del James also says "I've been reading Edgar Altenburg's book "Genetics".  (Henry Holt and Company.)  Nowhere does he use the term 'hemizygous'."  No textbook is complete or ideal.  Off-hand the only text that I know which uses this word is A.  M. Winchester's "Genetics" (second edition, Houghton Mifflin, company.)  Del sends feathers for diagnosis--wing-shield coverts with "crimped tips".  "Is this what has been called 'fluting'?"  Maybe so, but I think not reasonably.  The extreme of the condition is of course seen in the Frillback breed.  Whether this slight degree is genetic is not known.  Watch for change at the molt.


Wendell Levi has a comment from a breeder of Chinese Owls, Ed G. Clower, regarding the position of the so-called "leg frill".  Instead of involving leg feathers as indicated in The Pigeon.  Paragraph 167, it is a whorling of their rear breast or abdomen.


Phil Roof sends a historical note.  The booklet "The Turbit" by E. R. D. Chapman (1924) quotes the French naturalist Buffon (1790) as follows: "Le pigeon cravate (Columba Turbata)  is one of the smallest of pigeons.  It is hardly larger than a turtle dove and, mated with them it will produce mules or half breeds."


Dr. Michael Monsour writes of further success in getting hybrids from Racing Homer hen by ringnecked dove cock.  (PGNL 8, page 2).  He now has three of these "dovegons", "almost identical in color and size."  The two oldest are behaving like males.  "Has anyone ever experimented with doves' homing ability?"


I have a letter from Dr. Corrado Gini of Rome, Italy, asking about the sex ratio in mourning doves and pigeons.  He inquires "if it is known that the two eggs laid down by pigeons and doves come always from different ovaries.  Or sometimes also from the same ovary"!!!


Woodrow Wilson has hatched a good many morning doves under ringnecked dove foster parents.  He thinks that two of a clutch were usually of the same sex (PGNL 8 page 1) but "I definitely remember two pairs of opposite sex."


Ben Cichinski discusses crossing results of the "white bar"  Prague Tumbler, and sends feathers.  The evidence is pretty good that this is really a dominant opal color factor.  Both he and Everett Cook express interest in the idea of a "colored feather bank", or card catalog of feather samples.  My opinion is that anyone interested in making his own catalog should use cards at least 5" x 8" or larger, and staple rather than tape or glue the feathers on.  Any written comments or data can be put on the back.  To prevent damage by moths or carpet beetles, keep the collection in a tight box with mothballs.  I will be glad to post results for feather samples in PGNL.


George Schroeder reports a cross that has him a bit confused (me too): a reduced indigo hen was mated to a self black Giant Homer.  A black daughter resulted, and she was mated with a recessive red Giant Homer cock.  This second mating then produced a reduced indigo.  I haven't seen feathers from these "reduced indigo" birds; if the diagnosis was correct, that black female certainly did not transmit these factors.


George also notes "I have a six-months-old brown check French Gros Mondain, born (I think) with only two feathers for a tail."  He plans to progeny test.  Carl Graefe notes "in judging young Giant Homers at Milwaukee.  I ran across a bird with 12 primary flights in one wing, 11 in the other."  World record?  Here would be good starting material for a "fanwing" breed!




George Schroeder seems to obtain crossing over between the ash-red and faded loci (positions) with remarkable ease.  There follows a pedigree to demonstrate such crossovers.


Ed Blaine suggests that a more complex example be diagrammed once in awhile, such as a cock ash-red dominant opal indigo mated to a pale indigo hen.  Well, I'd rather just casually knock that one over, this time: assuming that the cock is heterozygous for each factor, his sperms have a one in two chance (1/2) of getting any particular one; the chances for a sperm getting a particular two factors is 1/2 times 1/2 equals 1/4, and for getting all three, 1/2 times 1/2 times 1/2 equals 1/8.  The kinds of eggs possible from the hen are calculated similarly.  Now the chances for any particular kind of egg being fertilized by any particular kind of sperm are figured again as products of the separate chances; for example, the chance of an egg with both pale and indigo factors being fertilized by a sperm with the ash-red, dominant opal, and indigo should be 1/4 times 1/8 which equals 1/32 (one chance in 32).  Some gamble.  This combination will be an ash-red dominant opal homozygous indigo carrying pale, and a cock; color light ash-red?  If you try to check me, it would be better to start a long way around, with chromosomes and gene letters.  Work out the 8 kinds of sperm's and the 4 kinds of eggs, and in the 32 possible zygotic combinations.


In PGNL 7, page 5, I mentioned browsing through back issues of the British periodical, "Pigeons and Pigeons World".  More now.  In the 1951 issues, there was a series of articles entitled "Color Breeding" by J. H. Langlois.  The genetics in these was quite primitive, and degenerated as the series progressed.  In 1954, another series on breeding and genetics was presented by W. F. Holmes.  He made an effort to avoid technical terms, and I think did a good job.  However, in the August issue, page 15, he noted that no comments on the articles had been received, "so I must assume they have been found capable of absorption, or that nobody has read them!"  Simplicity may not have stimulated the readers, but a more ambitious project did it: another long series began June, 1954, and ending February, 1956, by R. G. Silson.  These articles are closely related to his book, "Guaranteed Stock Birds", (1953), and included not only technical jargon but also mathematical divergences.  In October, 1954, one  old financier exploded, "When articles are written as long as a book on "genes" and "making a cross", this is all too complicated, and quite




above the head of beginners and will put them right off--as it would me.  Like begets like, generally speaking, and having got what you want, you use judicious in breeding to keep it....  The flair for breeding is a gift."


Wendell Levi has in his library a fascinating old periodical, "Fanciers’ Journal and Poultry Exchange" published by Joseph M. League, Hartford, Connecticut, beginning in 1874.  Thumbing through this, I note a lot of interesting pigeon items.  In volume 2, page 349, a porcupine pigeon is described, and the writer asks what is the remedy for this disease.  On page 635, Carrier crosses are praised as squab producers.  In volume 3, page 9, hybrid from a ring dove and a pigeon "of small breed" is mentioned.  On page 78, J. S. Bailey notes cases of ring doves living up to 30 years.  On page 104, this question is proposed: "can pure white Fantails, hatched from eggs from colored birds, be said to be pure white Fans and first-class birds?"


Also in the Levi Library are two interesting early Belgium books (in French) on Homing pigeons: F. Rodenbach, 1896, and S. Wittouck, 1901 (third edition) Rodenbach’s Chapter 4, is "On atavism and and its consequences."  He notes that atavism is an exception to the rule "Like begets like", and that this tendency to throw back is very strong in mixed-breeds.  He notes that  a character may be "traversant occultement une, deux, ou trois generations."--but he doesn't use the word "recessive".  Wittouck's chapter 7 is on "The art of crossing".  On page 80 he also discourses on atavism, with examples of frill neck and feathered feet from plain parents.  Both Rodenbach and Wittouck devote pages to "consanguinity", and on the whole condemn inbreeding.


Another book in French, by Bailly-Maitre (1909,), has some items relating to genetics.  Most of these are probably not original, but the comments on sex differences are interesting, e.g., that in plain blues, males are generally lighter than females.


I have run into an early article on heredity and pigeon crosses, not listed in Levi's bibliography: "Variation-- Germinal and Environmental" by J. C. Ewart, Scientific Transactions of the Royal Dublin Society.  7:353-378 (1902).  Ewart were knew nothing of Mendelism, and attributed much of the variation he got to age and health of the parents, and to seasonal factors.  His crosses were

            (1) Black Barb and by "grey English Owl" cock.  Most progeny were "devoid of character" but some a good deal like Owls.

            (2) Red Jacobin (sex?)  by black Barb.  Only one progeny mentioned, a hen.  "Nearly intermediate between the parents", with a hood.

            (3) Turbit cock (color?)  By Jacobin-Barb hybrid (above).  This mating produced nine young; two "were absolutely devoid of any vestige of either hood, chain, peak or frill."

            (4) Archangel (sex?) by Owl produced a hybrid which was next to mated to a white Fantail.  This last mating gave a youngster "very like a checkered blue rock pigeon", with tail somewhat raised, but only 12 rectrices.

            Mating (3) bothers me.  Eventually someone will have to re--analyze the various types of crest (hood, shell, peak, et cetera.)  And see where the error lies.


Volunteers, anyone?  I'd be happy to if I had fewer irons cooking --mosaics, miscellaneous unpopular mutants, test for new linkages, and some color and pattern analyses, on a small scale.  Anyway, the repeated suggestions of the existence of a different genetic type of crest (dominant?)  Should be a real challenge, and maybe not hard to disprove.



New mosaic notes (see also page 1):

(1) And error in PGNL 9, page 5 --the 1958 light blue mosaic Owl turns out to be a cock.

(2) New pedigree data on Ben Cichinski's black-red mosaic (PGNL, page 3): the dam (PGNL 6, page 5) had one pure Prague white bar parent, the other being a 4-way mixture of red Komorner, Vienna red self, blue Stettin, and Prague white bar.  The sire of the is black-red mosaic was a white bar blue, F3 from Prague white bar by Vienna red self.  Or rather, Ben says this was the "legal father".  Looks as if a second sire had to be involved to bring in the S black, at least.

(3), Dal James reports.  "An ash-red with a black patch on one cheek".  (No pedigree data.)




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