Pigeon pattu plongeur. 'Les Pigeons' etc. page 165.) which has the singular habit of sailing for a considerable time through the air, without flapping its wings, like a bird of prey. The confusion is inextricable, from the time of Aldrovandi in 1600 to the present day, in the accounts published of the Draijers, Smiters, Finnikins, Turners, Claquers, etc., which are all remarkable from their manner of flight. Mr. Brent informs me that he has seen one of these breeds in Germany with its wing-feathers injured from having been so often struck together but he did not see it flying. An old stuffed specimen of a Finnikin in the British Museum presents no well-marked character. Thirdly, a singular pigeon with a forked tail is mentioned in some treatises; and as Bechstein (5/25. 'Naturgeschichte Deutschlands' b. 4 s. 47.) briefly describes and figures this bird, with a tail "having completely the structure of that of the house-swallow," it must once have existed, for Bechstein was far too good a naturalist to have confounded any distinct species with the domestic pigeon. Lastly, an extraordinary pigeon imported from Belgium has lately been exhibited at the Philoperisteron Society in London (5/26. Mr. W.B. Tegetmeier 'Journal of Horticulture' January 20, 1863 page 58.), which "conjoins the colour of an archangel with the head of an owl or barb, its most striking peculiarity being the extraordinary length of the tail and wing-feathers, the latter crossing beyond the tail, and giving to the bird the appearance of a gigantic swift (Cypselus), or long-winged hawk." Mr. Tegetmeier informs me that this bird weighed only 10 ounces, but in length was 15 1/2 inches from tip to beak to end of tail, and 32 1/2 inches from tip to tip of wing; now the wild rock-pigeon weighs 14 1/2 ounces, and measures from tip to beak to end of tail 15 inches, and from tip to tip of wing only 26 3/4 inches.]

I have now described all the domestic pigeons known to me, and have added a few others on reliable authority. I have classed them under four Groups, in order to mark their affinities and degrees of difference; but the third group is artificial. The kinds examined by me form eleven races, which include several sub-races; and even these latter present differences that would certainly have been thought of specific value if observed in a state of nature. The sub-races likewise include many strictly inherited varieties; so that altogether there must exist, as previously remarked, above 150 kinds which can be distinguished, though generally by characters of extremely slight importance. Many of the genera of the Columbidae, admitted by ornithologists, do not differ in any great degree from each other; taking this into consideration, there can be no doubt that several of the most strongly characterised domestic forms, if found wild, would have been placed in at least five new genera. Thus a new genus would have been formed for the reception of the improved English Pouter: a second genus for Carriers and Runts; and this would have been a wide or comprehensive genus, for it would have admitted common Spanish Runts without any wattle, short-beaked Runts like the Tronfo, and the improved English Carrier: a third genus would have been formed for the Barb: a fourth for the Fantail: and lastly, a fifth for the short beaked, not- wattled pigeons, such as Turbits and short-faced Tumblers. The remaining domestic forms might have been included, in the same genus with the wild rock-pigeon.


The differences which we have as yet considered are characteristic of distinct breeds; but there are other differences, either confined to individual birds, or often observed in certain breeds but not characteristic of them. These individual differences are of importance, as they might in most cases be secured and accumulated by man's power of selection and thus an existing breed might be greatly modified or a new one formed. Fanciers notice and select only those slight differences which are externally visible; but the whole organisation is so tied together by correlation of growth, that a change in one part is frequently accompanied by other changes.

Charles Darwin

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