Boitard and Corbie; it pouts but little, and is characterised by the habit of violently hitting its wings together over its back,--a habit which the English Pouter has in a slight degree.


I know this bird only from the figures and description given by the accurate Neumeister, one of the few writers on pigeons who, as I have found, may always be trusted. This sub-race seems considerably different. The upper part of the oesophagus is much less distended. The bird stands less upright. The feet are not feathered, and the legs and beak are shorter. In these respects there is an approach in form to the common rock- pigeon. The tail-feathers are very long, yet the tips of the closed wings extend beyond the end of the tail; and the length of the wings, from tip to tip, and of the body, is greater than in the English Pouter.]



This group includes three Races, namely, Carriers, Runts, and Barbs, which are manifestly allied to each other. Indeed, certain carriers and runts pass into each other by such insensible gradations that an arbitrary line has to be drawn between them. Carriers also graduate through foreign breeds into the rock-pigeon. Yet, if well-characterised Carriers and Barbs (see figures 19 and 20) had existed as wild species, no ornithologist would have placed them in the same genus with each other or with the rock-pigeon. This group may, as a general rule, be recognised by the beak being long, with the skin over the nostrils swollen and often carunculated or wattled, and with that round the eyes bare and likewise carunculated. The mouth is very wide, and the feet are large. Nevertheless the Barb, which must be classed in this same group, has a very short beak, and some runts have very little bare skin round their eyes.


Beak elongated, narrow, pointed; eyes surrounded by much naked, generally carunculated, skin; neck and body elongated.


[This is a fine bird, of large size, close feathered, generally dark- coloured, with an elongated neck. The beak is attenuated and of wonderful length: in one specimen it was 1.4 inch in length from the feathered base to the tip; therefore nearly twice as long as that of the rock-pigeon, which measured only .77. Whenever I compare proportionally any part in the carrier and rock-pigeon, I take the length of the body from the base of the beak to the end of the tail as the standard of comparison; and according to this standard, the beak in one Carrier was nearly half an inch longer than in the rock-pigeon. The upper mandible is often slightly arched. The tongue is very long. The development of the carunculated skin or wattle round the eyes, over the nostrils, and on the lower mandible, is prodigious. The eyelids, measured longitudinally, were in some specimens exactly twice as long as in the rock-pigeon. The external orifice or furrow of the nostrils was also twice as long. The open mouth in its widest part was in one case .75 of an inch in width, whereas in the rock-pigeon it is only about .4 of an inch. This great width of mouth is shown in the skeleton by the reflexed edges of the ramus of the lower jaw. The head is flat on the summit and narrow between the orbits. The feet are large and coarse; the length, as measured from end of hind toe to end of middle toe (without the claws), was in two specimens 2.6 inches; and this, proportionally with the rock-pigeon, is an excess of nearly a quarter of an inch. One very fine Carrier measured 31 1/2 inches from tip to tip of wing. Birds of this sub-race are too valuable to be flown as carriers.]


[The English Dragon differs from the improved English Carrier in being smaller in all its dimensions, and in having less wattle round the eyes and over the nostrils, and none on the lower mandible. Sir W. Elliot sent me from Madras a Bagdad Carrier (sometimes called khandesi), the name of which shows its Persian origin: it would be considered here a very poor Dragon; the body was of the size of the rock-pigeon, with the beak a little longer, namely, 1 inch from the tip to the feathered base.

Charles Darwin

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