Pouter & Cropper World
424 North 18th Street
Fort Dodge, Iowa 50501
The norwich is an exhibition breed which is very friendly and companionable. Its large round globe, which stands out from its body at right angles, the continuous inflation of its crop, and the erect station of its body are its outstanding characteristics. (NPA Encyclopedia of pigeon standards).
The striking norwich is always eye catching whether in the loft or the exhibition pen. And the most striking aspect of this delightful bird is the large round globe that appears to always be inflated. The globe is afforded 25 points out of 100 in the standard. This does not, however, mean that the larger the globe the more points the bird gets! Remember, the globe must be round, not just from the side, or the front, or the top, but from all angles. The globe should break at almost a 90 degree angle from the waist and shoulders. Globes that blend into the body (pear shaped) are major faults, no matter how large. A common fault with many norwich is to carry the globe too far forward. These birds also lack back globe and give the impression of a number 9 with the globe completely in front of the body. The overall impression, as is relates to the globe, should be more like a lollipop with a round globe sitting on top of a slender body. Other less common faults are flat topped globes, no back globe at all, uneven or lopsided globes, globes with flat spots, and globes with creases or lines ahead of the beak. All these faults make a globe, no matter how large, appear unsightly and are major faults. Birds with these faults should never be bred from and should never be placed when in competition. Other faults, which prevent placing in the show, are overblowing and refusing to blow at all. These faults may be due to the circumstances as all birds will either overblow or refuse to blow at one time or another. If the bird has a continual problem with either of these there is no room in the breeding pen for this individual! Again, remember a medium sized round globe is preferred over a very large misshapen globe!
17 points of the standard are for Markings (cresent:6 points, rosettes: 3 points, Flights: 3 points, and body markings: 5 points). The crescent should appear as a crescent moon shaped marking that extends just below the eye on each side with the widest part of the crescent just below the beak. The crescent should not extend through the eye or behind the head (both of these faults are passed on to the youngsters). Also crescents that extend through the eye seem to be associated with cracked (2 colored or split) eyes. The rosettes on the upper third of the wing should consist of 6 to 8 or so white feathers that dot the upper wing. Faults include bishoped wings (white extending to the edge of the wing), and no rosettes at all. The typical dotting pattern is very difficult to obtain and many birds will show a small white patch on the middle upper wing. While not perfect this is acceptable. The flights (primaries) should be white. A common fault is to have one or more colored flights. This is very difficult to see in reds, yellows, browns, khakis, mealies, and creams. The breeder must be aware of this problem and be careful to not mate 2 birds with this fault together. The white line that appears across the waist should be a straight and even line. The thigh, feathers under the wings, and on the rump should be white.
The body of the norwich is allocated 15 points in the standard. The proper body actually becomes worth more than that when assessing the whole of the bird. How can that be? Well, remember the round globe that must break from the body? A thick bodied bird will not allow proper globe break and will destroy the roundness of the globe thus affecting that 25 points! When revising the standard the description of the body was changed from "wedge shaped to "cone" shaped. This was done in the hopes of clarifying an often misunderstood point about a good norwich. Wedge shaped may mean a "narrow" wedge or a "wide" wedge. Many people felt that wedge shaped meant that the bird should be thick across the shoulders and taper quickly to the tail. The correct interpretation is that, while the widest part of the body is indeed at the shoulders, it should be narrow even there! What is wanted would be a body narrow across the shoulders tapering even narrower to the tail. Narrow shoulders are a must! Narrow shoulders allow for proper globe break and allow for roundness of globe! Going hand in hand with narrow shoulders would be the need for tight wings that are held high on the bird. This further accents the narrowness of the body, the globe break, and allows the waist to be visible. The visibility of the narrow waist also allows for better globe break.
Another often overlooked point is the need for the upper back between the shoulders to be "hollow" or scooped in. This also accents the narrowness of the body and allows for proper break and roundness of the globe when viewed from behind. To finish off the picture of a narrow body is the need for short tight fitting feathers. Loose feathering is a fault and can destroy the image of a slender body.
Legs and feet, like the body, actually have an effect on more than just the 10 points allocated by the standard. The upright posture and the narrowness of body require long legs! The legs should be only about 1 inch apart (farther apart indicates a wide body) and should be straight when viewed from either the front and the side. The thighs should blend into the waist without hinging or showing an obvious connection. Also the "elbow" should not appear locked in place (stilting) but should appear straight and natural. Birds with hinged legs (bent elbow) and birds that constantly crouch should never place well in competition and should not be bred from. A good norwich should actually stand on it's tiptoes much like a fantail does. The bird should be proud and upright and appear to be "reaching for the sky".
10 points for action dictates that in many instances statues will not win in competition. Action is indeed part station with the eye directly above the ball of the foot with the crop well inflated at all times. The other half of the equation for "action" (approximately 5 points) is that the bird should respond to people by strutting, spreading its tail, bowing, and bobbing its head. Crouching or standing at an angle (remember the straight legs needed?) also affects action and is a major fault.
Color is also worth 10 points in the standard and is self descriptive. All colors should be as intense as possible, barred birds should have clear wing shields with dark bars. Sootiness and smutty wing shields in barred birds and the evidence of bars in blacks are all faults. Mealy, Cream, Red, and Yellow birds are to have white tails. We must keep in mind however, that these birds are actually ash red and a light gray tail is acceptable.
Only 5 points total is allocated for the head, beak, and eyes. This means that while a cracked eye is a fault it is a minor fault(worth only about 1-1½ points) It is certainly not enough of a fault to prevent an otherwise superior bird from winning its class! Cracked eyes are undesirable but is not a major fault when compared to short legs, misshapen globes, and thick bodies! The head should be small and dove shaped and the bird should have a slim beak with a small smooth wattle.
The tail (4 points) should be tight and carried off the ground. Very few norwich, whether in the U.S. or Europe, actually can carry their tail off the floor. It is important, however, that the tail is not so long as to prevent the bird from standing upright. Split tails and wry tails are major faults which carry implications far beyond 4 points. Birds with split or wry tails should not be placed in competition and should never be bred from.
The last 4 points of the standard are for the wings. These should be narrow and held close to the body. The wings should rest lightly on the top of the tail and the flights shouldn't cross. Again, an otherwise superior bird with lightly crossed wing tips should win its class. The key is to look at the bird as a whole- not look at individual parts!
Overall the impression of the norwich should be of an elegant bird with a large round globe, slim body, and long legs. This impression should also include the inherent liviness and friendliness of the breed. This liveliness and friendly disposition endear the bird to its owner in both the loft and the show pen. Feeding in the hen pen in the winter can be a real challenge as there will be birds on your shoulders, standing on your feet, in the feed bucket, and , if you are not careful, in the water bucket! Walking into a pen of norwich is indeed a treat as they all will come running up to greet their "long lost friend" whom they haven't seen in, what seems to them, to be years! Fertility has never been a problem with norwich but some pairs will require feeders for some birds never do quite figure out how to feed the youngsters. Crop binding can be a problem but this can be minimized by keeping the birds toenails trimmed (so they can't tear their crop when full) and paying close attention to the birds on a daily basis. There are many remedies for crop bound birds but I will leave that to someone else to discuss.
All in all the norwich is an idea breed. Friendly, companionable, fairly easy to raise, and a real beauty in the loft make this breed most desirable!