American Pigeon Journal
October 1987, page 36.
by Robert J. Mangile
There's a breed of pigeon in France, called the Tete Noir, (which means Black Head), that has a unique plumage coloration. Excepting a colored head and neck, its feathers are generally white with dark borders. Madame Jacqueline Francqueville bred and tested this coloration; and in 1980 reported that it behaved as a simple recessive genetic trait, (See March 1981. APJ, p. 16). Mme Francqueville used the term "penciled" to describe the Tete Noir's plumage coloration; and proposed the gene symbol "pc".
In the United States not much is known about the Tete Noir. However, the Saxon Breast Pigeon and Hanna Pouter are kept by many, and both breeds were thought to have penciled plumages.
Among the loose-knit group of "gene chasers" in the U.S., testing the Saxon Breast Pigeon for penciled got underway. I joined in the chase when Clay Shobe of Tiff City, Missouri, gave me Hanna Pouter breeding stock - for testing. Preliminary test results agreed with that from the Tete Noir; i.e., when out-crossed to unpied blue, all their daughters and sons were non-penciled. And, about a fourth (25%) of the offspring produced from brother-sister matings were full-blown penciled of both sexes. Back-crosses produced about half (50%) penciled; and penciled to penciled matings produced all (100%) penciled offspring.
Perhaps it is too early to state without some reservation, but it appears that the Saxon Breast Pigeon and the Hanna Pouter are of the same coloration as the Tete Noir of France, i.e., penciled.
A rare opportunity is at hand for pigeon fanciers. The penciled plumage is beautiful and limited to only a few breeds in the U.S. Indeed, it would be interesting for Specialty Breed Clubs to offer a "special award" to the breeder who produces the best "penciled" at their 1993, Annual Show. Depending on the breed, time required for development can vary. With selection, I have produced penciled, clean-legged, Homer-type birds from my Hanna Pouter stock in the fourth generation. My results suggest that the molt enhances penciled plumage.
Some things have been learned but we need to learn more. Can we confidently state that barred birds are more uniformly penciled than checked ones? Or, that spread (S) increased penciling on the feathers? How does penciled interact with other pied (white) plumages? Or is 'pc' linked (on the same chromosome) with other identified genes? Who will be the one to find the answers? Will it be you? If not, “why not”?
- Francqueville, Jacqueline, 1980. "Penciled." Columbiculture, Magazine (April), Published by Nationale de Columbiculture in France.
- Hollander, Willard F., 1981. "New Color Gene Report From France.", American Pigeon Journal, Volume 70, No. 3, page 16 (March).
- Hollander, Willard F., 1983. "Origins and Excursions in Pigeon Genetics.", page 96, 138. Published by The Ink Spot, Hutchinson, Kansas.
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During the thirteen (13) years since the publication of this article, "penciled" has been tested by several pigeon fanciers. Currently, the genetic symbol of "pc" is being used for penciled. As of January 2001, good evidence exists to indicate that penciled (pc) is an allele to gazzi (z) and recessive white (zwh); which further evidence is likely to confirm - at which time the genetic symbol for penciled should be changed to "zpc".