The lengths of the dotted lines rudely represent the degree of distinctness of each breed from the parent-stock, and the names placed under each other in the columns show the more or less closely connecting links. The distances of the dotted lines from each other approximately represent the amount of difference between the several breeds.



This group includes a single race, that of the Pouters. If the most strongly marked sub-race be taken, namely, the Improved English Pouter, this is perhaps the most distinct of all domesticated pigeons.


Oesophagus of great size, barely separated from the crop, often inflated. Body and legs elongated. Beak of moderate dimensions.


The improved English Pouter, when its crop is fully inflated, presents a truly astonishing appearance. The habit of slightly inflating the crop is common to all domestic pigeons, but is carried to an extreme in the Pouter. The crop does not differ, except in size, from that of other pigeons; but is less plainly separated by an oblique constriction from the oesophagus. The diameter of the upper part of the oesophagus is immense, even close up to the head. The beak in one bird which I possessed was almost completely buried when the oesophagus was fully expanded. The males, especially when excited, pout more than the females, and they glory in exercising this power. If a bird will not, to use the technical expression, "play," the fancier, as I have witnessed, by taking the beak into his mouth, blows him up like a balloon; and the bird, then puffed up with wind and pride, struts about, retaining his magnificent size as long as he can. Pouters often take flight with their crops inflated. After one of my birds had swallowed a good meal of peas and water, as he flew up in order to disgorge them and feed his nearly fledged young, I heard the peas rattling in his inflated crop as if in a bladder. When flying, they often strike the backs of their wings together, and thus make a clapping noise.

Pouters stand remarkably upright, and their bodies are thin and elongated. In connexion with this form of body, the ribs are generally broader and the vertebrae more numerous than in other breeds. From their manner of standing their legs appear longer than they really are, though, in proportion with those of C. livia, the legs and feet are actually longer. The wings appear much elongated, but by measurement, in relation to the length of body, this is not the case. The beak likewise appears longer, but it is in fact a little shorter (about .O3 of an inch), proportionally with the size of the body, and relatively to the beak of the rock-pigeon. The Pouter, though not bulky, is a large bird; I measured one which was 34 1/2 inches from tip to tip of wing, and 19 inches from tip of beak to end of tail. In a wild rock- pigeon from the Shetland Islands the same measurements gave only 28 1/4 and 14 3/4. There are many sub-varieties of the Pouter of different colours, but these I pass over.


This seems to be the parent-form of our improved English Pouters. I kept a pair, but I suspect that they were not pure birds. They are smaller than English pouters, and less well developed in all their characters. Neumeister (5/7. 'Das Ganze der Taubenzucht' Weimar 1837 pl. 11 and 12.) says that the wings are crossed over the tail, and do not reach to its extremity.


I know this breed only from description. (5/8. Boitard and Corbie 'Les Pigeons' etc. page 177 pl. 6.) It approaches in general form the Dutch Pouter, but the inflated oesophagus assumes a spherical form, as if the pigeon had swallowed a large orange, which had stuck close under the beak. This inflated ball is represented as rising to a level with the crown of the head. The middle toe alone is feathered. A variety of this sub-race, called the claquant, is described by MM.

Charles Darwin

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