Mangile's Pigeon Pages


The concept of  "wildtype" seems to induce a sense of uneasiness and uncertainty for some students of pigeon genetics.  It seems to be considered an aloof concept that only the highly educated can grasp.  Here are some thoughts to ponder, while trying to gain a perspective on the meaning of wildtype.

Anyone familiar with any type of wild species; whether it be reptile, fish, bird, or mammal, will instantly pause for a closer look, if that species does not look like the type so familiar to that person.  A robin with a white head, hoping across a lawn, is not the readily recognized type found in the wild.  It will impose itself on your mind as something different from the wild type robin so familiar to most.  A mostly white hummingbird, a black squirrel, or reddish feral pigeon will instantly evoke a response to their - other than normal - looking type for their species.

The European Rock Dove, (Columba livia), has long been accepted as the standard type for comparison for the domesticated pigeon.  We have arbitrarily established that form, i.e., the wildtype,  for comparisons of all other variations within the species.

It is quite simple - really!  No matter what aspect of the domesticated pigeon being considered, e.g., color of eye, sound of voice, wing shield pattern, color of tail - compare it to the wildtype .   If the "wild type"  does not have that characteristic, it might be considered a variation.

Feral pigeons often display - checked, instead of barred wing shields; or variations of red and white plumage, instead of the well known blue barred plumage.  It is precisely those variations that we underscore; i.e., those which vary from the pre-determined standard of the - wildtype.

Rock Dove

Description of Wildtype.

The rock dove's outward appearance (phenotype)  has a general blue-gray plumage, black bill, white wattle and eye cere, orangish eyes, reddish legs and feet, black wingbars, black band near the end of the tail, near white outer tail feather vane, and near white rump.  Squabs have long fuzzy down and a narrow, blackish band near the tip of their upper mandible.

Variations found in cultivated domesticated varieties, such as - heavily feathered legs and feet, feather whorls on head and breast, tumbling during flight, trumpeting voice, permanently fanned tails, pearl colored eyes, very large or small size, and a list of plumage color and pattern variations, are not normally found in wild Rock Doves.

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