THE HISTORY OF THE BELGIAN RACE PIGEONS

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The history of pigeons doesn't teach us anything about the kind of pigeon that was used many centuries ago. There is a lot of speculation about the origin of the modern race pigeon. Breeding pigeons began centuries ago, we can admire pigeons on the paintings of old masters.

Everyone agrees that the rock doves (Columba Livia) are the ancestors of all domesticated birds we call today pigeon. Until today the rock dove has its home in the Mediterranean area. The demonstrative affection, the external characteristics and the way a rock dove flies shows many similarities to our domesticated doves.

The evolution that leads to changes in organs and frame takes many years, even more than 200 years from the time that modern pigeon history is being written. About 200 years ago, the ordinary

Jacobins,

Tumblers,

Croppers, English Carriers,High-Flying pigeons and Dragoons were used to race back to their home loft.

From 1800 we get a better insight in the development of race pigeons. Breeding race pigeons began in Antwerp, Brussels, Ghent and Liege with the crossing of different species. The most important species used to come to the modern racepigeon were

the Antwerp Smierel, a very old Belgian specie,

the English Carrier,

the Old Camulet,

the Dragoon,

In 1810 Ghent organised races from Bruges,Lille(France) and Antwerp. In 1815 a cropper raced to it's home loft from Tours (France). Ghent natives preferred the little croppers. In 1820, rich Ghent fanciers bought many Liege pigeons,only shortbeaks with a jabot, and crossed them with their own pigeons. The success of those breeds proved it on the races.

the Cropper

and the extinct Horseman.

Liege had little black birds with a short beak, dark eyes, a jabot on their chest and a solid frame.

Ancestors of the Liege pigeons were probably the French Turbit, also called the Cravaté ,

and the Platneusduif.

They are birds with a regular velocity, not to fast, but with a perseverance for reaching their home loft. It is a bird that is very attached to it's loft. The Liege pigeon is extremely efficient for long distance races. In 1810, after a race from Paris four of those birds reached their home loft first in a race from Lyon. Those doves are the founders of the Liege pigeon. The "pigeon-town" was Antwerp. In 1800, Antwerp natives organised races with smierels and little croppers. The crossing of tumblers, smierels and little croppers gave good results. Fanciers got better results when crossing tumblers and little black pigeons from Liege. The results of such breed were very good for the short distance races. The crossing of the English carrier, a carrier of the old type, with the Liege pigeon, has given the best results for the long distance races.

Pigeons of those breeds, mentioned above, crossed with tumblers created the Antwerp race pigeon. It was a bird with a strong stature, a good body and a proud carriage. Other characteristics were a long head with well developed wings of the nose and eyes of different colors, from chestnut brown to almost white. At that time, these were the pigeons with the fastest velocity.

We still find the little compact short beaks with a jabot in 1925, which do remind us of the little black pigeons of Liege. There were also still the bigger and longer species which are clearly descendants of the Antwerp pigeon. Until today we have pigeons with a jabot and long feathers on their paws like croppers. The tumble of the young pigeons shows the relationship to the tumblers. The described crossings give an idea of the enormous work it has been to come to the present race pigeon. The fanciers of 2 centuries ago had a tenacity and were gifted to breed pigeons. They are the founders of the modern race pigeons. BACK HOME

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