Non-Classic Almond in Domestic Pigeons


Frank Mosca

Heterozygous (het) almond, het recessive red, het checker racing homer
AU 96 ARPU 41620
Almond Male (Het Almond, het check, het recessive red - Flown 500 miles many times. Bred by F. Mosca)
Photo is linked to A. U. site.
Spread Almond (Stipper)
Danish Stipper (Spread Almond)
Photo is linked to Danish Tumbler site.
DeRoy Cock
DeRoy (homozygous recessive red, heterozygous almond)Photo linked to United Oriental Roller Association

Ash-red almond cock bred by K Davis

Ash-red almond cock bred by Ken Davis

Almond is just one allele in a group of them at the same place on the sex-chromosome. 

Others are Faded, Qualmond, Sandy, Frosty, etc.

 I actually hate calling this article non-classical almond --- non-classical to whom?   Thousands of breeders worldwide have bred “non-classic” almonds.  Most of those have reared their birds for centuries before “classic” almond became classic.   In Denmark, they’ve bred “non-classical” almonds for at least five centuries.  In Italy, they’ve bred “non-classical” almonds even longer.   In Turkey and sections of the Middle East, they’ve bred “non-classical” almonds longer than on the Italian peninsula.    So exactly when did classical almond become “classical” almond?    Well it seems to be a little over one-hundred fifty years ago when the British began seriously breeding the Almond Tumbler, now known as the English Shortface Tumbler (ESF), for show.  This show expression of almond is actually a combination of many factors in the same bird.   It is extremely difficult from a breeding standpoint and, most definitely, one of the glories of pigeondom, but it is not necessarily the be-all and end-all of beautiful expressions of almond.

A good part of our pigeon breeding tradition and that of shows came to us from the British.  The Almond Tumbler was one of THE top show breeds throughout the nineteenth century and many considered it as the ultimate color bird.   Today, few aside from dedicated fanciers of the breed realize that at the start only the almonds were shown.   DeRoy, Kites, etc., were all considered simply as stock birds.   That idea of this expression of almond being almond arose during this period.  We inherited that idea along with many others as we began our shows along British lines.

However, beautiful almond birds don’t necessarily have to be created simply by matching the ideal of the ESF.   The ESF almond is basically a wild-type T-pattern, kite bronze, single dose recessive red bird.  There are a few other factors that added to that mix will enhance ground color, but that’s basically what the bird is.  

The Danish Stipper is also an almond breed.   So is the Magnani Modena.  So are the Oriental Roller and many other roller and tumbler breeds.   Many of these birds are gorgeous and most come with almond in combination with other factors than those found in the ESF.   The easiest change to make is simply to add spread to almond.   Doing so gives you the “classic” Stipper and what are known as “sprinkled” in Oriental Rollers.  Here the ground color is not the deep yellow-orange of the classic almond, but rather a light gray or whitish color.   If the bird is also T-pattern underneath its spread overcoat, then it will also show multi-black breaks against that lighter gray color.   They look to me almost like an ice cream sprinkled with something.

Other factors can be added simply to barred birds.   Blue bar almonds are pretty.  They are usually born whitish colored and darken up as they grow.   Some flecking appears, but it’s often blue rather than black except on the bar areas.  The same goes for check almonds except here you get a bit more black flecking.   Always, the ground color is much lighter than you see in the ESF since there are no other factors darkening it.

If you want stunning birds, try adding ash-red.   Ash-red almonds are handsome birds.  Ash-red check almond cocks carrying blue are beautiful and much of their break is ash-red intermixed with some black.   Almond blue cocks carrying brown have both blue and brown break.   Brown almonds are hard to get, but they, too, are attractive.  

Almond plus two doses of recessive red gives you DeRoys.   Here, the flecking is often a darker reddish bronze over the lightened recessive red background.  Dilute DeRoys are a soft cream color. 

All of these colors have been bred in dozens of breeds for hundreds of years.  They are as “classical” as ESF almond and as beautiful, some, to my eyes, are more so.   That’s not to say I don’t find ESF almond very attractive.  I do. I used to raise the breed and know just how difficult it is to try to get a bird that approaches the standard.   By the way, notice that word: Standard.   Almond is a factor that creates varying colors no matter what it is paired with. -- (Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know if it's under recessive white it isn't going to show, but you know what I mean.)

If you are adding almond to your breed or if you are planning to allow almond in various other combinations than that we consider “the classical almond” then there is absolutely nothing wrong with defining exactly what you are looking for.   We did it for the ESF, why not for all almond factors.   The Danish Stippers have a standard.   The Magnani Modenas have a standard.   Why not standards for everything else?  

There are admittedly some problems.    Is that bird a poor ground colored classic almond or is it a spread almond?  Should we allow barred and checked almond or simply barred ones in the standard?   These questions, though, are no more difficult for the fancy than are those that ask: Do we want blues with white rumps or dark rumps?   Do we accept light blue or dark blue birds?   For centuries we have chosen just which expressions of a particular color we would accept.  It’s no different with almond.   It also need not be the same from breed to breed.  Is Jacobin or King blue anywhere near that blue demanded in Wing Pigeons or Saxon Priests?    Of course not.   So why shouldn’t one breed accept barred almonds in ash, blue or brown while another considers them anathema.   Conversely, there is nothing wrong with one breed accepting only various combinations of almond.  The ESF and some others have chosen the “classic” model as their color standard, though even here, they have also accepted DeRoy.  

The Oriental Roller breeders accept spread almond as well as classical almond as well as DeRoy.   They also accept Ash-red almonds.    Modena breeders accept dozens of variations in their Magnani, so do Stipper breeders.

I have seen Indigo or Andalusian almonds.   They are attractive.  I’ve seen brander bronze almonds.  I’ve heard of people working on Toy Stencil almonds, on reduced almonds, on just about any other factor almonds.  Some of these experiments will undoubtedly turn out birds that are yucky.    Some will create birds that are stunning.    They may not be “classic” but they will sure be beautiful.  

A few years back, I raised an almond blue bar homer carrying one dose of recessive red and one dose of reduced.   Supposedly, reduced has no effect on a bird in a heterozygous state, but this bird was a much softer pastel than any other bird I’ve ever bred.  He was so beautiful that another fancier tried to sucker me out of him.   I should have let him have it, since my resident Cooper’s hawk also loves pastels.  I was trying to create another one to see if reduced was the reason, but the hawk also ate the almond parent.   You, too, can play with almond.  If you want to create the “classic” almond, it will take some work.  If you want to create “non-classic” birds that can be as beautiful in their own way as any “classic” than you have almost infinite possibilities available to you.



Copywrite F. Mosca 2002