Copyright
Lewis Wright.

The practical pigeon keeper online

. (page 1 of 16)
Online LibraryLewis WrightThe practical pigeon keeper → online text (page 1 of 16)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


UC-NRLF



SB 277 E20







THE LIBRARY

OF

THE UNIVERSITY
OF CALIFORNIA



PRESENTED BY

PROF. CHARLES A. KOFOID AND
MRS. PRUDENCE W. KOFOID



THE



PRACTICAL



PIGEON KEEPEE.



BY

LEWIS WRIGHT,

AUTHOR OF " THE ILLUSTRATED BOOK OF POULTRY," " THE PRACTICAL POULTRY
KEEPER," &C.



ILLUSTRATED.



CASSELL, PETTEK, GALPIN & Co.

LONDON, PARIS $ NEW YORK.
[ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.]



CONTENTS.



PACKS

Chapter I. THE PIGEON LOFT: Importance of Proper Space
Plan for a Moderate Loft Loft in the Eoof of a House
Internal Fittings of Loft Various Breeding Arrangements
Perches . . . . . ^ .' . . . . 114

Chapter II. FOOD AND FEEDING : "Why Food differs in Winter
and Summer Proper Diet for Pigeons Quantity a Pigeon
Eats Hoppers Green Food Fountains Salt Cat . . 14 23

Chapter III. BREEDING AND GENERAL MANAGEMENT : The Sexes
in Pigeons Matching Settling in the Loft Nest-pans
Insect Vermin Sitting Hatching Holding a Pigeon The
Squeakers Shifting Nurses or Feeders Artificial Feeding
Moulting 2445

Chapter IV. PEDIGREE BREEDING : "What is a Strain? Tendency
to transmit Features to Posterity Accumulation of such
Tendencies Effects of Selection Comparison with the
Hap-hazard Process Necessity of keeping up a Connective
Chain In-breeding and Crossing Practical Mode of Pro-
cedureThis Method followed by all Practical Fanciers . 4557

Chapter V. EXHIBITING PIGEONS : Necessity of Exhibition in
some Form Columbarian Society Shows Boxes and Baskets
"Washing Various Means of improving the Appearance of
Pigeons ... 58 65

Chapter VI. CARRIERS 66 86

VII. DRAGOONS . 8597



n/363098



IV CONTENTS.

PAGES

Chapter VIII. BARBS 97108

IX. SHORT-FACED TUMBLERS : Almonds and their

Origin Kites, Agates, and Splashes Mottles Baldheads

and Beards . . . 108127

Chapter X. COMMON AND PERFORMING TUMBLERS : Origin
of Tumbling Oriental Rollers Training of Flying

Tumblers 127140

Chapter XI. POUTERS: Pigmy Pouters .... 140154

XII. FANTAILS 154158

XIII. JACOBINS . 158 163

XIV. FRILLED PIGEONS : Owls Turbits Tur-

biteens Satinettes Blondinettes Vizors . . . 164 180

Chapter XV. EXHIBITION ANTWERPS 180 187

XVI. TRUMPETERS ARCHANGELS NUNS MAG-
PIES BUNTS 187 195

Chapter XVII. EASTERN TOY PIGEONS : Capuchins Dama-
scenes Swifts Scandaroons Indian Pigeons . . . 195 203
Chapter XVIII. MISCELLANEOUS TOYS : Frill-backs Floren-
tines Swallows Priests Brunswicks Letz Pigeons
Fairies, or Fairy Swallows Shields Crescents Starlings
Fire Pigeons, or Fire-backs Ice Pigeons Hyacinths
Victorias Porcelains Suabians Helmets Spots . . 203209
Chapter XIX. HOMING PIGEONS : Modenese Flying Pigeons 209 221
XX. DISEASES OF PIGEONS . ... 222232



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.



PAGE

PLAN OF LOFT. ...'. 4

LOFT ON A HOUSE 6

INTERNAL FITTINGS OF LOFT . . t . . . '. 8

SCOTCH PLAN OF BROAD SHELF FOR NEST-PANS . . . .10

MR. FULTON'S NEST-BOX 11

TRIANGLE PERCH 12

MR. CARIDIA'S IMPROVED PERCHES 13

FEEDING HOPPERS FOR PIGEONS . . . . . . 18, 19

WATER FOUNTAINS 21

NEST-PANS 30

SCRAPER 31

MANNER OF HOLDING A PIGEON 36

BOXES FOR SENDING PIGEONS TO SHOWS . . .' . ' 60, 61

BASKETS FOR ,, ,, 63

BLUE CARRIER 67

HEAD OF CARRIER 72

BLUE DRAGOON COCK 87

BIRMINGHAM DRAGOON HEN, 1870 90

HEAD OF, 1874 91

,, MODERN TYPE 93

BARBS 98

HEAD OF BARB 100

SHORT-FACED TUMBLERS ALMOND, MOTTLE, BALDHEAD, BEARD . 109
HEAD-MOULDER FOR SHORT-FACED TUMBLERS . . . .119

FLYING TUMBLERS 132

ORIENTAL ROLLERS 135

BLACK-PIED POUTER 143

PIGMY POUTER AND ISABEL . . V . . . .153

SCOTCH FANTAIL 155

BLUE AND WHITE JACOBINS 159

OWLS AND TURBITS . ., 167

TURBITEENS 171

SATINETTE 175



VI LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.

PAGE

BLONDINETTES 178

BLUB VIZOR 179

SILVER-DUN SHOW ANTWERP 180

HEAD OF SILVER-DUN ANTWERP . . . . , . .181

DIAGRAMS OF STANDARD ANTWERP HEAD 182

,, (YOTJNG BIRD) . .183

TYPES OF ANTWERP EYE-WATTLES 183

ANTWERP HEAD, FAULTY TYPE 184

,, MEDIUM-FACED TYPE 186

TRUMPETER 188

NUNS . 191

LEGHORN EUNT 193

COMMON EUNT 194

DAMASCENE 196

SWIFT 197

SCANDAROONS . . . 198

LAHORE . . .199

INDIAN PIGEONS MOOKEE, SHERAJEE, GOOLEE .... 201

FRILL-BACKS 204

FLORENTINE OR BURMESE , . . . 205

SWALLOWS 206

HOMING PIGEON 210

AREA FOR HOMING PIGEONS . . . . . . . .211

BOLTING WIRES . . . 213

CAT-PROOF ENTRANCE FOR AREA 213

PLAN OF LOFT FOR HOMING PIGEONS 214

MODENESE FLYING PIGEON . ..... 220



PEE FA E.

THIS work lias been chiefly written because such a book was
repeatedly asked for. No apology is therefore needed for its
publication.

In preparing it the writer has endeavoured to preserve the
same plain and practical character which obtained for the
" Practical Poultry Keeper " such a wide popularity. Theo-
retical discussions have been eschewed except in a very few
cases, where a few words seemed likely to throw practical light
on questions of deep interest to pigeon fanciers, such as the
origin of Tumblers and of Tumbling, and the true ideal
standard for Owls and Jacobins. The object has been to get
the greatest amount of practical information on practical points
into a small space. How far that object has been attained must
be left to the judgment of the reader.



THE

PEAOTICAL PIGEON KEEPEE.



CHAPTER I.

THE PIGEON-LOFT.

IT may appear strange, but is nevertheless true, that the
pigeon is a much more domestic bird than the fowl. In other
words, although a bird of flight, it spends much more time in
the spot which it regards as its home ; and success in pigeon-
keeping will therefore depend very much on that home being
properly proportioned to the number kept, and fitted up in a
judicious manner.

As with nearly all pets kept in this climate, it is better, if
possible, that the loft should have a somewhat southerly aspect;
but if that cannot well be managed there is no need to be
anxious over it, provided it is a good open situation. Proper
space is of far more importance. Old Moore himself, the first
writer on pigeons, is very strong upon this point, and relates
that he knew a gentleman who could not raise three young
ones all the spring from nine pairs of breeding birds ; whereas,
even in the autumn, when moved into a larger place they bred
freely. Every experienced fancier can corroborate this ; and it
is of such importance that, if only a very small space can be
secured, we would strongly advise that only one good pair of
birds be kept. From that one pair, well looked after, more

B



2 THE PEACTICAL PIGEON KEEPER.

young will be reared than if any attempt be made to crowd the
birds.

Few people, however, are reduced to this ; and for a modest
but efficient loft we can strongly recommend a wooden building,
twelve feet by six feet, divided by a partition into two houses,
each six feet square. If a handy place offers, this can, of course,
be reared against the wall of a house or garden, and the floor
boarded or asphalted ; concrete does not answer, from the pro-
pensity of pigeons to pick it to pieces. But it will do just as
well, and is often more convenient, to make the wooden build-
ing detached in the garden. In such case it may be framed
with " quartering," and the floor should be tongued with hoop-
iron, raised about a foot from the ground, and well-smoothed,
which will make the house dry in any situation. For the walls
good match-boarding, about an inch thick, answers admirably ;
and only where the breeds to be kept are very delicate as, for
instance, foreign Owls or the climate is very severe, may it be
advisable to nail an inner skin of thinner match-board to the
inside of the frame. Such an inner skin, however, with the
layer of air between, makes a very warm loft, and adds much
to neatness, and where a little expense is no object, is worth its
cost. For the roof we prefer ordinary rafters, covered with
loose tiles, and lined inside with match-board. At the highest
part of each house, just under the roof, should be adequate
holes for ventilation, which can be covered with perforated
zinc.

For pigeons allowed to fly at liberty no further space or
accommodation beyond what is contained in the loft will be
required ; it will only be necessary to provide a safe means of
entry and exit, which will protect them from thieves and cats,
and which will be described in the chapter on " Homing
Pigeons." In the country, where the neighbours are honest, it
will answer best to let nearly all varieties fly in this manner,
and birds so happily circumstanced will maintain themselves in



THE PIGEON LOFT. 3

admirable condition. But nine-tenths of fancy pigeons are
kept in towns, or too near questionable characters to be thus
risked ; and for all such must be provided an exercising place or
aviary, or " flight," as it is usually called, entirely enclosed with
wire netting. This should be in front of the enclosed loft, of
good height, and as long as can be afforded. For the loft we
are describing, six feet of flight in front may be made " to do,"
but is very cramped; twelve feet is far better, and will keep
the birds in perfect health : such a loft thus occupying in all a
ground space of twelve by eighteen feet, arranged as in Fig. 1.

In this figure, A A are the lofts, B B the flights, or aviaries,
belonging to them. Unless the loft is reared against a wall,
we should prefer the highest part of the roof to be in front,
which allows a small window over each door, and a good height
say eight feet for the wire enclosure. At the far end of
this, at the height of five to six feet from the ground, a shelf
(/), about five inches wide, should be fixed, but taking care to
place it a few inches clear of the netting, in order that in turn-
ing round the pigeons may not damage their tails ; on the doors
and front of the loft, also a few inches clear, should be fixed
other shorter shelves (e), arranged in a manner that allows one
to pass over the other when the doors are opened. The pigeons
will, in a flight arranged like this, take much exercise and
pleasure in flying from one shelf to the other ; and if the aviary
be much over twelve feet in length, it is a good plan to provide
another shelf across the middle, about eighteen inches below the
wire at the top. The floor of the aviary, on the whole, is best
laid with concrete, or hot lime and sand, as what the pigeons
eat of this will do them good, and their dilapidations can easily
be plastered over every two or three years.

The entrance holes should be cut in the door, that there
may be only one locality for draught ; and there should always
be two in each door, some birds being very dictatorial over these
places. A good size is four and a half inches wide, by about



THE PRACTICAL PIGEON KEEPER.




d



a



cl







Fig. 1. PLAN OF LOFT.



A A, Lofts or pigeon-houses.
B B, Open flight or aviary,
c c, Nesting places, with pans.
d d, Perches for roosting.
e e, Shelves, attached hy iron brackets
to doors and front of lofts. Those on



doors "bevelled towards the hinged
side, and set one inch higher than
the others, to allow door to swing.

//, Shelf at further end of aviary.

g g, Holes with traps, and small landing
each side of the door.



THE PIGEON LOFT. O

seven inches high, and there must be a small alighting stage or
shelf, level with the bottom, projecting, say, three inches from
each side of the door. We prefer the holes about a foot clear
from the floor of the loft, and each should be furnished with a
trap-door, for many obvious reasons. At c and d are the nest-
ing places and perches to be hereafter described.

It will readily be seen that a loft and aviary thus con-
structed are perfectly secure against cats, and when built with
a raised floor are practically so against rats. It is often well
worth while to enclose the aviary with netting small enough in
mesh to be also proof against small birds. Otherwise, it is really
astonishing what a quantity of food these petty marauders will
eat in the course of a year. Omitting this precaution, we once
found no less than seventeen sparrows in a loft six feet square.
Such a number of visitors must needs make a serious difference
in the corn-merchant's bill ; and in our opinion Master Sparrow
is in this way not altogether blameless for the generally assumed
voracious appetite of the pigeon.

More extensive lofts can, of course, be erected on the same
general plan as that above described ; but we would strongly
recommend in all cases, unless unusually ample space be at
command, that the number of separate rooms be added to rather
than their size. Every additional means of dividing the pigeons
will, as the breeding season comes to a close, be found of in-
estimable benefit, and will greatly promote the amateur's con-
venience, comfort, and success. So true is this, that we are
acquainted with one most successful breeder who divided his
lofts and aviaries into sections only three feet wide, in each of
which he put two pairs of birds ; and he told us he had never
had such success in rearing young ones as since he adopted this
plan.

It will very often happen, however, that some existing
accommodation has to be made available, and the very word
"loft" points to what has most often been pressed into the



6



THE PRACTICAL PIGEON KEEPER.



service from all time. Where the top rooms of a house are
ceiled over, there is generally a good space left between the top
ceiling and the actual roof ; and when this is accessible it can
readily be made a home for the pigeons. First of all, a good
tight floor tight and close, however thin must be laid over
the rafters. This, and a window, and ready access, are the




Pig. 2. LOFT ON A HOUSE.

A, Loft inside roof. c c, Shelves.

B B, Aviary, or flight, enclosed with netting. | d, Bath.

great points ; with them and decently good management vermin
need not be feared : but where the loft is left dark, rough, and
unfloored, to collect filth unseen for weeks together, it need not
be wondered at should there be annoyance. A smooth floor
that can be well scraped, and light to scrape it by, easily pre-
vents all this, and disinfectants will do the rest. Such literal
" lofts " have been most usually used for flying pigeons, which,
of course, only further need a proper entrance, such as will be
hereafter described ; and where fancy pigeons are kept in them,



THE PIGEOX LOFT. 7

it has been usually in close confinement, the birds never being
allowed outside. Pigeons can be kept even like this ; but they
are always liable to disease, and can never enjoy existence as all
pet creatures should do. And it is quite easy to make even the
top of a house all that can be desired in any way. "We give a
sketch which will show at a glance what we mean, and the idea
of which is taken from the well-known loft of Mr. Wallace, of
Glasgow. The plan (see Fig. 2) consists simply of carrying
wire-work square up to the level of the apex of the roof and to
the extent of the walls, and needs no further explanation. A
few shelves, such as already described, will make a roof so
furnished a happy abode for any pigeons; and as in the former
case is perfectly secure, or is easily made so, from any form of
depredation.

So much for the outside of the loft ; we must next turn to
the inside. The great thing to be here studied is proper
breeding accommodation; and here again it is singular, and
speaks volumes for his thorough practical knowledge of the
subject, that the very first writer on pigeons old Moore before
mentioned describes the arrangement which is still by general
experience pronounced best. " To make your breeding places,"
says he, " you may erect shelves about fourteen inches broad,
allowing eighteen inches between shelf and shelf, for otherwise
your tall Pouters, by being forced to crouch for want of height,
will get a habit of playing low, and spoil their carriage. In
these shelves erect partitions at about the distance of three
feet, fixing a blind by a board nailed against the front on each
side of every partition ; by this means you will have two nests
in the length of every three feet, and your pigeons will sit dark
and private." In Moore's time it seems to have been usual for
fanciers to keep a few of almost all varieties, and hence his
dimensions are, unless for Pouters, unnecessarily large; but
his general arrangement is admirable, and we proceed to show
clearly its application to our supposed loft of six feet square.



THE PRACTICAL PIGEON KEEPER.




Fig. 3. INTERNAL FITTINGS OF LOFT.



a a, Shelves,
b b, Partition,
c c, Perpendicular boards,
sheltering nest pans.



el d, Nest-pans.

e e, Wire-fronted pens.

//, Open wire-fronted pens.



INTERNAL ARRANGEMENTS. 9

We will suppose the height of the back part, opposite the door,
to be seven feet (we most strongly advise ample height in all
cotes or lofts specially constructed, which will promote ventila-
tion, and tend to counteract canker, diphtheria, and numerous
other diseases). The back of the loft will then appear as in
Fig. 3. Here a a are the shelves, which for all varieties but
Pouters will be sufficiently roomy if made twelve inches wide
and about fourteen inches apart. At b b is the perpendicular
partition dividing the whole into two widths, or ranges, of three
feet wide each ; and c c are the perpendicular boards, also
twelve inches wide, nailed bodily over the ends of each range.
All is in this way put up in the simplest manner, and without
an inch of waste. Behind the covering boards, in the sheltered
recesses thus formed, are placed the nest-pans (d d), to be
further described in another chapter.

In such a loft as here described, we strongly advise leaving
the top ranges open, to be fronted with wire as in the figure at
ff. These pens will be most useful for the temporary con-
finement of strange pigeons, received, perhaps, on approval ; or
for hospital purposes when any ailment to be treated is not
contagious ; or to confine birds it is desired to stop breeding.
It will also be well to fix double swing wire fronts to the open
part of another shelf, as at e e. These will answer the same
purpose ; and by providing wire partitions, which can be slid
in between the front wires, they will make most excellent
"matching" pens, the use of which will be seen presently.
The bottom range of all, on the floor, had better be left clear,
and will come in handy, either for young ones or an occasional
ground nest, as will be seen by-and-by ; or when not wanted
for such purposes, the water-fountain can be placed under the
shelf on a raised stage, and the gravel-box or salt-cat can also
be placed there, or even the food-hopper. They will be out of
the way, and leave the floor clear, and the shelf above will keep
all from being fouled by the birds. For this latter part of the



10



THE PRACTICAL PIGEON KEEPER.



arrangement we are indebted to a hint from Mr. Hallam, of
Birmingham. There will still be left double sets of nests for
six pairs of birds, which in our opinion are all that should be
kept in such a loft ; but if more must be accommodated, the
wire-fronted pens and the floor are also available.

We can thoroughly recommend this size and plan for a loft,
which is drawn from our own experience ; and the same plan
can be followed at the top of a house by nailing the shelves to
the rafters, and the partitions at the proper intervals to their
sides. In one or two Scotch lofts we have seen a very broad




Fig. 4.



a a, Shelf.

b b, Partitions.



c c, L-shaped Screens,
d d, Nest-pans.



shelf two feet wide or so fixed against the wall, with a
partition here and there, and no other fixtures at all, each
nest-pan being simply sheltered by two pieces of board nailed
together like an L, or the two sides of a box, and stood up on
end close to the wall, so that the pan lies in the angle, as
shown in Fig. 4. We, however, prefer the foregoing.

The nesting place preferred by Mr. Fulton is shown in Fig. 5.
Each half of the nest is a foot square, and the hinged cover is
made slanting, so that the pigeons cannot perch upon it. Its
advantages are three. The first is that the nests being upon
the ground, delicate or weakly hens have no difficulty in
reaching them ; the second is that the pans are very dark and
private ; the last is that the partition in the middle prevents
young birds from going to the hen, and teasing her while she



BREEDING ARRANGEMENTS.



11



is sitting upon her next batch of eggs. On the other hand, as
such nests can only be made upon the ground, the plan limits
the accommodation very much; they are difficult to clean
thoroughly out, and are thus apt to become infested with
vermin ; and most pigeons prefer a higher situation. A shelf
is also miich more convenient for inspecting what goes on, or
for feeding a young pigeon ; and, on the whole, after trying
both plans, we prefer that of old Moore for general use,
movable fences or partitions being easily placed against any




Fig. 5.



nesting-place to prevent the young ones teasing the hen or
getting into danger. The nest just figured, where room can be
given, is useful for Short-faced Tumblers and such weakly
birds \ but these can also be accommodated 011 the floor range
of the plan figured at page 8.

We have not yet done, however, with the fixtures of our loft.
Nothing more seems to have been usual in Moore's time ; but
in one respect later experience has improved upon him. If
nothing more is provided, the pigeons will have to rest at night
in their nesting places, and these will receive a very unnecessary
amount of excrement, which is objectionable in every way.
We therefore provide roosting perches at the sides of the loft,




12 THE PRACTICAL PIGEON KEEPER.

as shown at d in Fig. 1. A very usual form for these is that
in Fig 6, where the top or perch itself is a slip of wood, about
an inch and three-quarters wide and six inches long, nailed over
the top edges of two pieces of board the same length and about
six inches wide, arranged in the form t of a triangle. These
perches are fixed about twelve inches apart, projecting end out

from the side of the loft,
which is easily managed
by nailing a strip of board
to their ends, and fixing
that to the wall. The
use of the triangle is to
catch the droppings of the
birds, and throw them off
Fig. 6. TRIANGLE PERCH. from any bird that may

be on a perch exactly

underneath^ on to the floor. As pigeons have scarcely any oil
in their plumage, such a precaution is very necessary to save
serious damage to it ; but this form of perch is most objection-
able, the birds being very apt to knock themselves in flying
against so many sharp angles, giving rise to many cases of
wing disease. We mention the plan only because it is so fre-
quently employed, as one to be carefully avoided ; an infinitely
better one having been devised some years since by Mr.
Caridia, of . Birmingham, a fancier to whom we have been
indebted for many a practical hint respecting the management
of our pigeons. These admirable perches are shown in Fig. 7,
representing two rows, one over the other. Here a a are strips
of board the length available for a row of perches, and b b are
short lengths of broom-stick or other round poles, either screwed
or glued into holes made at the proper intervals, so as to pro-
ject about five inches. The right distance is about sixteen
inches for long-reaching birds like Carriers, down to twelve
inches for smaller breeds. Underneath these are nailed to the



PERCHES FOR PIGEONS.



13



same boards, in a slanting direction, other boards (c c), about
eight inches wide, to throw off the droppings, the lower edge of
this board being supported by one or two stays in any con-
venient way. It will be obvious that all the projecting perches
are guarded, as it were, by the slanting board ; and that instead
of having a lot of single perches to keep clean, this same board




Fig. 7. PERCHES FOR PIGEONS.

can be cleared of all matter in an instant by one stroke of the
scraper, while the regularity and neatness of appearance, and
ease of construction, are also infinitely superior.

With the perches the fixtures of the loft are complete. The
details we have given can readily be applied to any special case
that may occur, or to any shed or outhouse that may be avail-
able. "Whatever these may be, the nest places and perches we
have given are in our opinion the best ; and it only remains to



14 THE PRACTICAL PIGEON KEEPER.

add that either the whole should be well painted, and afterwards
periodically scrubbed with carbolic soap, or thoroughly white-
washed inside with hot lime about twice a year. We may,


1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16

Online LibraryLewis WrightThe practical pigeon keeper → online text (page 1 of 16)