(5/2. Mr. B.P. Brent, well known for his various contributions to poultry literature, has aided me in every way during several years: so has Mr. Tegetmeier, with unwearied kindness. This latter gentleman, who is well known for his works on poultry, and who has largely bred pigeons, has looked over this and the following chapters. Mr. Bult formerly showed me his unrivalled collection of Pouters, and gave me specimens. I had access to Mr. Wicking's collection, which contained a greater assortment of kinds than could anywhere else be seen; and he has always aided me with specimens and information given in the freest manner. Mr. Haynes and Mr. Corker have given me specimens of their magnificent Carriers. To Mr. Harrison Weir I am likewise indebted. Nor must I by any means pass over the assistance received from Mr. J.M. Eaton, Mr. Baker, Mr. Evans, and Mr. J. Baily, jun., of Mount-street--to the latter gentleman I have been indebted for some valuable specimens. To all these gentlemen I beg permission to return my sincere and cordial thanks.)
The races of the Pigeon which can be distinguished, and which breed true, are very numerous. MM. Boitard and Corbie (5/3. 'Les Pigeons de Voliere et de Colombier' Paris 1824. During forty-five years the sole occupation of M. Corbie was the care of the pigeons belonging to the Duchess of Berry. Bonizzi has described a large number of coloured varieties in Italy: 'Le variazioni dei colombi Domestici' Padova 1873.) describe in detail 122 kinds; and I could add several European kinds not known to them. In India, judging from the skins sent me, there are many breeds unknown here; and Sir W. Elliot informs me that a collection imported by an Indian merchant into Madras from Cairo and Constantinople included several kinds unknown in India. I have no doubt that there exist considerably above 150 kinds which breed true and have been separately named. But of these the far greater number differ from each other only in unimportant characters. Such differences will be here entirely passed over, and I shall confine myself to the more important points of structure. That many important differences exist we shall presently see. I have looked through the magnificent collection of the Columbidae in the British Museum, and, with the exception of a few forms (such as the Didunculus, Calaenas, Goura, etc.), I do not hesitate to affirm that some domestic races of the rock-pigeon differ fully as much from each other in external characters as do the most distinct natural genera. We may look in vain through the 288 known species (5/4. 'Coup d'Oeil sur l'Ordre des Pigeons' par Prince C.L. Bonaparte, Paris 1855. This author makes 288 species, ranked under 85 genera.) for a beak so small and conical as that of the short-faced tumbler; for one so broad and short as that of the barb; for one so long, straight, and narrow, with its enormous wattles, as that of the English carrier; for an expanded upraised tail like that of the fantail; or for an oesophagus like that of the pouter. I do not for a moment pretend that the domestic races differ from each other in their whole organisation as much as the more distinct natural genera. I refer only to external characters, on which, however, it must be confessed that most genera of birds have been founded. When, in a future chapter, we discuss the principle of selection as followed by man, we shall clearly see why the differences between the domestic races are almost always confined to external, or at least to externally visible, characters.
Owing to the amount and gradations of difference between the several breeds, I have found it indispensable in the following classification to rank them under Groups, Races, and Sub-races; to which varieties and sub- varieties, all strictly inheriting their proper characters, must often be added. Even with the individuals of the same sub-variety, when long kept by different fanciers, different strains can sometimes be recognised. There can be no doubt that, if well-characterised forms of the several races had been found wild, all would have been ranked as distinct species, and several of them would certainly have been placed by ornithologists in distinct genera.