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THE FIRST LADY OF THE LAND RELEASES A HOMING PIGEON “I wish the Cleveland Show all possible success” was the message which this 500-mile prize-winning Racing Homer bore from Mrs. Calvin Coolidge, standing on the portico of the White House, Washington, to the annual show held by the Poultry and Pigeon Fanciers' Association in Cleveland, Ohio.
Peoples of Every Clime and Age Have Lavished Care and
Affection Upon Lovely Pigeons
By ELISHA HANSON
With Illustrations in Color from Paintings by Hashime Murayama
VEN before the dawn of history Finally, there are the Common pigeons,
the breeding of fancy and racing to be found in barn lofts, church steeples,
pigeons was one of the favorite and public parks and plazas the world pursuits of man. Wherever historians over (see Color Plate II). delve and archæologists dig they find evi- The great square in Venice in front of dence of the interest of men of olden days the Cathedral of Saint Mark, which is in pigeons. That interest, in our own age dominated by the Campanile and flanked of steam, electricity, and chemistry, seems by the Palace of the Doges, is perhaps the to be growing.
most celebrated public square in the world There is a fascination about these birds for its pigeons. In the snapshot album of that makes it possible for men and women nearly every tourist who has visited the in all stations of life to enjoy them. To City of Canals, there is a picture of the some persons the breeding of pigeons traveler feeding these birds before Saint opens the road along which to pursue an
Mark's (see page 83). ideal, the ideal of beauty, in one of its Madison Square, New York; the steps highest forms.
of Saint Paul's Cathedral in London, Not all of us are artists, capable, by the from which an effort is now being made use of brush and palette, of catching for to bar these birds, and Lafayette Square, a moment impressions of personality and in Washington, are other famous congreof atmosphere which impregnate great gating centers for the world's pigeon canvases; but those of us who love pigeons population (see pages 86, 87, 110). have an opportunity to create something
MANY POETS HAVE SUNG OF PIGEONS essentially satisfying through the infinite variety in which their colors may be It is difficult for a pigeon fancier to blended.
analyze and describe the reasons for his TWO HUNDRED VARIETIES OF FANCY
strong attachment for these birds. The
writer still recalls his first impression of PIGEONS ARE BRED TO-DAY
them, nearly thirty years ago, when he No one knows how many varieties of
saw the timid, white creatures, their dainty pigeons are being bred in the world to
red feet folded back under their breasts day, or how many have been bred and
as they flew overhead, in an old country abandoned in the past, but it is estimated woodshed. that of the fancy birds alone there are From that moment birds of all kinds, upward of 200 distinct kinds, and it is
but pigeons more especially, have held a known that many of these have innumer- place of deep affection in his heart. able subdivisions, where the type is the This sentiment is far from unique. . same but the coloring of each is different.
Wordsworth experienced it one day while In addition to fancy pigeons, where walking through his favorite forest. A type and color make the variety and its dove was singing to its mate. The great subclasses, there are racing pigeons and poet of Nature paused to listen, and then, utility pigeons. The latter are reared in
in the spirit of the moment, recorded his large numbers, principally for food pur- thoughts: poses, although during the last few years
I heard a stock-dove sing or say breeders have discovered that a purely
His homely tale, this very day; utilitarian bird may be bred for beauty.
His voice was buried among trees,
Yet to be come at by the breeze;
few months ago a Racing Homer brought He did not cease, but cooed and cooed,
more than $1,300 at auction in England. And somewhat pensively he wooed; He sang of love, with quiet blending,
Since that time an American fancier imSlow to begin and never ending ;
ported a black Tumbler cock for which he Of serious faith and inward glee,
paid $1,000, and I myself have paid more That was the song, the song for me.
than the old Roman's price for a pair of But Wordsworth was not the first poet birds, and have also refused more than to write of his love for pigeons. The
six times his price for one of my own Psalmists sang of them; Anacreon sang of
breeding. them; Juvenal, Shakespeare, Mrs. Brown
ENGLAND'S KING IS A PIGEON FANCIER ing, Moore, and many others have recorded their love of pigeons in verse that Probably the best-known pigeon fancier will endure for all time. Some of the in the world to-day is King George of most charming strains of Liza Lehmann's England, whose lofts at Sandringham song cycles are those which seek to con- contain the finest racing specimens obtainvey through music the sheer beauty of able. From those lofts birds have gone pigeons.
into many humble English homes, accom
panied by the sovereign's best wishes, ARABIAN LEGEND EXPLAINS PIGEON's
there to produce winners for their modest RED FEET
owners. His Majesty's grandmother, Literature, legend, and history are rich Queen Victoria, was also an ardent fanin pigeon lore and in all the records of cier, visiting pigeon shows whenever poswarfare, there is nothing more stirring, sible and spending many hours in her than the accomplishments of our own aviary. little feathered warriors in the great Queen Victoria prized the Jacobin (see World War.
Color Plate IV) above all other varieties In legend, there is nothing more beauti- and made a point of obtaining outstanding ful to a pigeon fancier than the story of specimens from time to time to improve the dove which brought to Noah the mes- her own birds. She did not compete in sage that the great flood had subsided. the shows, but Jacobin fanciers sent some According to the Arabs, this bird, after of their best birds to her lofts and frecarrying to the Ark the olive branch sig- quently received for their own even better nifying that the waters were falling, flew individuals, produced under the Queen's away on a second trip, from which it re- loving supervision. turned with traces of red mud on its feet, Thousands of years before the days of thereby proving that it had been able to King George, another king, Rameses III of alight on the ground; and, as a result of Egypt, gloried in his donations of pigeons this information, Noah prayed that the to the temples of Thebes, Heliopolis, and feet of these birds might forever continue Memphis. Since his time, down to the of that reddish color. Noah's prayer must present, the Orient, especially Mohamhave been heard, for the feet of all medan countries, has regarded pigeons as pigeons to this day are red!
sacred. Only recently a riot occurred in We learn from Xenophon's "Anabasis” Bombay because some Europeans killed that the love of pigeons was widespread the revered pigeons in one of the city in those parts of the world which the squares (see illustration, page 102). Greek army traversed. We also learn from the great Roman historian and natu
PIGEON RACING IS BELGIUM'S NATIONAL
SPORT ralist, Pliny, that ancient Rome was as keen about these birds as is modern In Belgium, pigeon racing is the naBelgium.
tional sport, in which as many Belgians, Pliny tells of Lucius Axius, who was in proportion to the country's population, celebrated because of the quality of his are as keenly interested as are Americans birds and also for the high prices which in baseball, football, golf, or horse racing. they commanded—often as much as the The Grand National of Belgium, in which equivalent of $75 a pair.
pigeon fanciers from all parts of the counThat price seemed high to Pliny, but a try participate, provokes far more interest
National Geographic Society
Painting from life by Hashime Murayama VICTORIA CROWNED PIGEONS These birds, with filmy, fan-shaped crests, are among the largest and most spectacular of the whole pigeon group. They are peculiar to New Guinea and a few neighboring South Sea islands and are fron 25 to nearly 34 inches in length. This particular species (Goura victoria) inhabits the islands of Jobi and Mysori.