Moore, however, an excellent old authority (5/14. See the two excellent editions published by Mr. J.M. Eaton in 1852 and 1858 entitled 'A Treatise on Fancy Pigeons.') says, that in 1735 there were two sorts of broad-tailed shakers (i.e. Fantails), "one having a neck much longer and more slender than the other;" and I am informed by Mr. B.P. Brent, that there is an existing German Fantail with a thicker and shorter beak.]


[Mr. Swinhoe sent me from Amoy, in China, the skin of a Fantail belonging to a breed known to have been imported from Java. It was coloured in a peculiar manner, unlike any European Fantail; and, for a Fantail, had a remarkably short beak. Although a good bird of the kind, it had only 14 tail-feathers; but Mr. Swinhoe has counted in other birds of this breed from 18 to 24 tail-feathers. From a rough sketch sent to me, it is evident that the tail is not so much expanded or so much upraised as in even second-rate European Fantails. The bird shakes its neck like our Fantails. It had a well-developed oil-gland. Fantails were known in India, as We shall hereafter see, before the year 1600; and we may suspect that in the Java Fantail we see the breed in its earlier and less improved condition.]



Feathers divergent along the front of the neck and breast; beak very short, vertically rather thick; oesophagus somewhat enlarged.

Turbits and Owls differ from each other slightly in the shape of the head; the former have a crest, and the beak is differently curved; but they may be here conveniently grouped together. These pretty birds, some of which are very small, can be recognised at once by the feathers irregularly diverging, like a frill, along the front of the neck, in the same manner, but in a less degree, as along the back of the neck in the Jacobin. They have the remarkable habit of continually and momentarily inflating the upper part of the oesophagus, which causes a movement in the frill. When the oesophagus of a dead bird is inflated, it is seen to be larger than in other breeds, and not so distinctly separated from the crop. The Pouter inflates both its true crop and oesophagus; the Turbit inflates in a much less degree the oesophagus alone. The beak of the Turbit is very short, being .28 of an inch shorter than that of the rock-pigeon, proportionally with the size of their bodies; and in some owls brought by Mr. E. Vernon Harcourt from Tunis, it was even shorter. The beak is vertically thicker, and perhaps a little broader, in proportion to that of the rock-pigeon.


During flight, tumble backwards; body generally small; beak generally short, sometimes excessively short and conical.

This race may be divided into four sub-races, namely, Persian, Lotan, Common, and short-faced Tumblers. These sub-races include many varieties which breed true. I have examined eight skeletons of various kinds of Tumblers: excepting in one imperfect and doubtful specimen, the ribs are only seven in number, whereas the rock-pigeon has eight ribs.


I received a pair direct from Persia, from the Hon. C. Murray. They are rather smaller birds than the wild rock-pigeon, about the size of the common dovecote pigeon, white and mottled, slightly feathered on the feet, with the beak just perceptibly shorter than in the rock-pigeon. H.M. Consul, Mr. Keith Abbott, informs me that the difference in the length of beak is so slight, that only practised Persian fanciers can distinguish these Tumblers from the common pigeon of the country. He informs me that they fly in flocks high up in the air and tumble well. Some of them occasionally appear to become giddy and tumble to the ground, in which respect they resemble some of our Tumblers.


These birds present one of the most remarkable inherited habits or instincts ever recorded.

Charles Darwin

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