All the coloured breeds display the same peculiar metallic tints on the breast, a character far from general with pigeons. Each race presents nearly the same range of variation in colour; and in most of the races we have the same singular correlation between the development of down in the young and the future colour of plumage. All have the proportional length of their toes, and of their primary wing-feathers, nearly the same,- -characters which are apt to differ in the several members of the Columbidae. In those races which present some remarkable deviation of structure, such as in the tail of Fantails, crop of Pouters, beak of Carriers and Tumblers, etc., the other parts remain nearly unaltered. Now every naturalist will admit that it would be scarcely possible to pick out a dozen natural species in any family which should agree closely in habits and in general structure, and yet should differ greatly in a few characters alone. This fact is explicable through the doctrine of natural selection; for each successive modification of structure in each natural species is preserved, solely because it is of service; and such modifications when largely accumulated imply a great change in the habits of life, and this will almost certainly lead to other changes of structure throughout the whole organisation. On the other hand, if the several races of the pigeon have been produced by man through selection and variation, we can readily understand how it is that they should still all resemble each other in habits and in those many characters which man has not cared to modify, whilst they differ to so prodigious a degree in those parts which have struck his eye or pleased his fancy.
Besides the points above enumerated, in which all the domestic races resemble C. livia and each other, there is one which deserves special notice. The wild rock-pigeon is of a slaty-blue colour; the wings are crossed by two bars; the croup varies in colour, being generally white in the pigeon of Europe, and blue in that of India; the tail has a black bar close to the end, and the outer webs of the outer tail-feathers are edged with white, except near the tips. These combined characters are not found in any wild pigeon besides C. livia. I have looked carefully through the great collections of pigeons in the British Museum, and I find that a dark bar at the end of the tail is common; that the white edging to the outer tail-feathers is not rare; but that the white croup is extremely rare, and the two black bars on the wings occur in no other pigeon, excepting the alpine C. leuconota and C. rupestris of Asia. Now if we turn to the domestic races, it is highly remarkable, as an eminent fancier, Mr. Wicking, observed to me, that, whenever a blue bird appears in any race, the wings almost invariably show the double black bars. (6/23. There is one exception to the rule, namely, in a sub-variety of the Swallow of German origin, which is figured by Neumeister, and was shown to me by Mr. Wicking. This bird is blue, but has not the black wing-bars; for our object, however, in tracing the descent of the chief races, this exception signifies the less as the Swallow approaches closely in structure to C. livia. In many sub-varieties the black bars are replaced by bars of various colours. The figures given by Neumeister are sufficient to show that, if the wings alone are blue, the black wing-bars appear.) The primary wing- feathers may be white or black, and the whole body may be of any colour, but if the wing-coverts are blue, the two black bars are sure to appear. I have myself seen, or acquired trustworthy evidence, as given below (6/24. I have observed blue birds with all the above-mentioned marks in the following races, which seemed to be perfectly pure, and were shown at various exhibitions. Pouters, with the double black wing-bars, with white croup, dark bar to end of tail, and white edging to outer tail-feathers. Turbits, with all these same characters. Fantails with the same; but the croup in some was bluish or pure blue.