Species group: Domestic Fancy Pigeons
Other common names: N/A
Scientific name: Columba livia domestica
The English Trumpeter Pigeon is a spectacular ornamental variety that catches the eye of everyone who sees it. These gentle – some might even say lazy – birds do not fly or breed particularly well, but they are appreciated for their endearing appearance and sweet personality.
A single pet is not very difficult to care for, but if you plan to breed and exhibit these special birds, you should already be enjoying success as a breeder of a species known to be good at feeding and raising babies. Many people like to use Racing Homer Pigeons for the foster parents. You may also need to trim back the boots and excessive feathers around the vent before the English Trumpeters can mate or sit eggs.
Fancy pigeons described as “trumpeters” have been described since at least the 1600s, but those earlier birds are very different from today's English Trumpeter Pigeon. They were developed for a voice that actually sounded a bit like a trumpet, with males being able to coo trumpet-fashion for an extended period of time. However, down through the ages, the focus changed to developing the unique feather qualities, and the voice probably changed too, since it sounds more like a drumroll or a soft laugh today. It's a bit of a mystery as to why this variety is called the English Trumpeter, since it was developed in North America.
The English Trumpeter has a well-shaped cape-like crest that is thrown back on the head to expose the face, while the Bokhara Trumpeter's face is hidden sheepdog style beneath its topknot. In both varieties, the legs feature long muffs or “boots,” a sweep of long feathers, sometimes more than 10 inches long, that trail on the ground. They are available in a variety of colors patterns including one described as baldhead. These attractive birds are not actually bald; instead, the crest contrasts strongly with the white head, giving the impression of a bald or white-haired person snuggled into a thick coat of plush feathers.
370 grams (13 oz.)
28 centimeters (11 in.)
5 - 7 years
Behavior / temperament:
The English Trumpeter Pigeon is a gentle aristocrat that is calm around people and other pets. Like many another aristocrat, though, it does not believe in hard work. It will come to your hand for food if it doesn't have to come too far, and it may refuse to to feed its own young. You must be content to admire this variety for its beauty. If you're looking for a playful, active pet, you should consider another breed.
A single pet or even a pair of English Trumpeter Pigeons can make an easy-going house pet, if you can arrange for a generous cage of 3' by 3' by 3' or even larger. If you plan to breed and exhibit the birds, keep in mind that you may be a lot more successful if you also make room in your loft for another variety that can be depended upon to raise babies, so that you will always be able to foster any fertilized eggs. Be aware that these birds aren't terrific flyers, and they may spend a lot of time on the floor, just goofing off. It is an excellent idea to network with other pigeon breeders when you design your loft. Keeping the birds clean will be very important, especially because you want to keep the long “boots” looking beautiful. All pigeons need protection from predators and bad weathers, but pigeons with specialized feathers that affect their ability to fly and to stay warm need extra attention. They do bathe in water, so give them the opportunity often.
The English Trumpeter Pigeon can thrive on a relatively simple diet. Most people start with a high-quality pigeon mix from a well-regarded source. You may also mix in quality grains such as millet, barley, wheat, whole corn, dry peas, buckwheat, oats, and so on, either from a good feed store with fast turn-over or from a health food store. Special pellets formulated for pigeons can be used to supplement the diet, to ensure that your bird has enough vitamins and protein.
If you're hand-taming a special pet, you may want to hold back special high-fat treats like sunflower or safflower seed, to give to your English Trumpeter during the training and bonding process. They can learn to fly to you for treats, but sometimes it takes a moment to get their attention, and you can't really expect them to come from much of a distance.
Chopped greens like kale, dandelion greens, spinach, or fresh sprouts should be offered each day. Some people offer high beta carotene foods like finely chopped carrot or papaya. Hard or sprouted beans seem to be well-liked. English Trumpeter Pigeons need access to a high quality pigeon grit to help them digest the tough, uncooked grains they like to eat. A cuttlebone or another calcium source is also valuable. However, calcium may not be properly absorbed without sufficient vitamin D3 if your pigeon is an indoor pet. Therefore, it is important to choose a good avian supplement that includes D3.
Written by Elaine Radford