Species group: Domestic Fancy Pigeons
Other common names: Indian Fantail, Thai Fantail
Scientific name: Columba livia domestica
The Fantail Pigeon is a very popular group of fancy pigeons known for their dramatic, fan-shaped tails. Bred for looks rather than homing or speed, some of these lovely pigeons are very weak flyers, although they can become loving pets.
Silky or lace Fantail mutations have popped up for centuries, with several birds being described in the 1700s. Although beautiful, a silky Fantail's soft and curling feathers haven't formed a normal web, making them unusually fragile. These lovely birds can't fly at all, and they require special care to keep them safe, healthy, and clean. Never breed a silky that expresses the silky gene with another silky that also expresses the gene, or the babies will have feathers that are simply too soft and weak for the bird's health.
The fantail pigeon may be the oldest fancy pigeon category, since there is a record of these birds going back to Spain in 1150 A.D. The Indian Fantail Pigeon has been dated back to 1560 A.D. Spain, China, and India have all claimed to be the original source of these beautiful birds, a debate we can't settle at this distant point in time. It is worth noting that the silky mutation can occur in many varieties of pigeons, but it seems to be the most popular in the fantail group. Today, some breeders are working on miniature varieties, but some show standards require the larger birds. Always ask questions, and understand what breed of fantail you have chosen.
Fantails stand out because of their dramatic, fan-shaped tails, which usually holds 30-40 feathers, compared to the average domestic pigeon's 12-14 tail feathers. There are many colors and varieties. For instance, a white silky Fantail with curled, silky tail feathers may look like a queen in her ballgown trailing her long, old-fashioned skirt.
400 - 525 grams (14 - 18.5 oz.)
34 centimeters (13.4 in.)
7 - 10 years
Behavior / temperament:
Fantail Pigeons are naturally somewhat tame and confiding, so it can be a pleasure to train one of these birds as a single pet to come to your hand. Since many of these birds don't fly well, be aware that it's your responsibility to keep your trusting pet safe from cats or other predators that might get into the house, or even from small children who might tease the “funny-looking” pigeon. Be aware that smaller Fantail Pigeons like the Mini Indian Fantail can and do fly much better. Know your own pet's abilities, and provide the best environment to keep the bird safe. A bad flyer must be protected from being stepped on by a careless foot or captured by a hungry predator, and a good flyer must be trained to return to your hand or home so it doesn't get lost.
The Fantail Pigeon is sometimes said to scratch on the ground or floor of its cage a lot. Keep the loft, crate, cage, and even the carpet clean, so the bird isn't tracking through its own droppings.
The majority of Fantail Pigeon keepers are breeders and exhibitors who keep their birds in a large outdoor loft. Talk to another breeder before you design your loft, and make sure that it is easy to clean and secure from mosquitoes, thieves, raccoons, and other predators that would like nothing better than to feast on a nice tasty pigeon. Have a minimum of 4 square feet of floor space for each pair. Yes, that does mean that an aviary 4 feet wide by 6 feet long houses a maximum of 12 birds. Pigeons are messy, and their droppings and feathers can accumulate, so don't take on a bigger job than you are sure you can manage.
A single pet Fantail Pigeon should be trained to spend time cuddling and hanging out with you, but it will still need something like a large dog crate to feel secure when you can't be there. To create a feeling of security, put a blanket or another covering over two sides of the crate, rather than leaving it open from all directions. If the bird has to spend a great deal of time in the cage, it may be better to build a rather large flight cage, but make sure there are plenty of shelves and perhaps a nest with a liner that the bird can use. A silky Fantail may have trouble getting to a high perch, so you should use lower shelves and perches to make it easier for the bird to get to a resting spot.
Fantail Pigeons bathe in water, so most of them should be allowed access to a shallow dog dish or similar bathing bowl to splash around in. Since pigeons lower the head to drink, they will need a deeper bowl for the drinking water. Unfortunately, silky Fantails seem to get water-soaked easily, so monitor the situation, and make sure you are not allowing your pet to get dangerously chilled.
The Fantail Pigeon has been raised in captivity for hundreds of years, so it has been developed to 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.
The Fantail Pigeon is a relatively bad flyer, and it's one of those pigeons that can gain weight if you're not careful. Bear in mind that some birds, like the silkies, can only fly enough to get to a low perch, so those birds aren't able to exercise much at all. You may want to hold back special high-fat treats like sunflower seed, to give to your pet by hand during the training and bonding process. 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.
All Fantail 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
gentle personalities, great family activity, good starter pet, beautiful white fantail, cooing sound
cross breeds, large outdoor aviary
little mating display, bright colored toys, imprinting, small groups
People find it a bit weird when I start talking about my pet Pigeon, but she was the most affectionate of animals. She was just one of the family. She was free to fly around the house and normally just followed me around. Where I was, she was! She would just sit on my shoulder!
These birds are easy to feed, easy to care for. The only thing you need to do if you want them to fly around as nature intended is make sure they wear a diapers...the advantages are pretty obvious! Bird diapers are pretty easy to get hold of and cheap too..
From DavidHighley May 9 2015 7:45PM
We got our first pair of English Fantails in 2013. In the meantime we've got 6 of them in total. They are white with grey tails, except for one female that is all grey like your average pigeon. We named her Marie Antoinette, because she carries her head so far back against her tail, that she appears headless. She looks very funny.
These birds look very noble, maybe because of their attitude. They always carry their chest in a protruding and proud way. They are easy to care for. None of ours has ever been ill since we got them, so I would say they are a sturdy and healthy breed. All our Fantails are very docile and don’t mind being handled. They seem to enjoy human contact, so I would say they make a good starter pet. I've never had one peck at me. Some of ours will even land on arms at feeding time. They are good with other pets and not shy around cats, dogs or chickens. Our males get along great and have never been aggressive towards each other or the females. They are full of energy, constantly moving their necks back and forth, pacing up and down and cooing.
The interesting thing about them is that they don't really fly around like your average pigeon. Ours will rarely fly (if you can even call that flying) more than 2 meters. They will also not venture away too far from their hutches. We used to keep them near our front porch, but they are really messy and poop a lot so we had to move their hutches to our backyard. They are free to walk around during the day, but at night we lock them in. During winter time we move their hutches into the barn, although they can bear all weather extremes.
Pigeons are very prolific birds, so if you get a pair, your pigeon family will grow bigger in no time. We felt that 6 of them were enough so we usually take away and discard their eggs and put plastic ones instead inside their nest to give the parents the chance to sit on for a while. Baby pigeon are some of the ugliest creatures I have seen, especially when their feathers start to sprout. But in just a month or so these pigeon versions of the "ugly duckling" will turn into amazingly beautiful birds..
From refineddemon Feb 16 2015 11:02AM
When you think it'd be nice to have a couple of white doves...think again
My grandmother came to live with us for a few months a while ago. She thought it'd be lovely to have a pair of white doves to look at. We got a cute little bird house up on a stick, and two doves from the pet shop, they were beautiful, and not too loud.
But what we soon found out, was that they breed fast, and not only with each other. We soon ended up with about 12 doves, within about six months, that were mostly spotted brown, as they bred with normal pigeons, we had a couple with green from the native kereru pigeons, and a couple gray ones, but mostly white and brown speckled. So, there were about 12 or more of them, all on the garage roof, no longer fitting in the house, only using it when laying eggs. They made a huge poo mess of the cars outside the garage, and the roof there, didn't look pretty.
So unless you keep them in a cage, which really isn't kind for doves/pigeons and shouldn't be done, they will breed, and probably with other colours, you won't have just two beautiful white doves looking cute in a little house, you will have a roof full of speckledy things pooing all over your stuff. Also once you get so many the sound gets louder and louder, and they
In the end, we spent days, catching them in a net, and donating them to the pet shop and other people, just to get rid of them all. It wasn't really worth it.
*They look lovely at first, especially the white fantail ones, it's the prettiest of doves I think.
*They don't make much noise (if you just have a couple)
*Low maintenance, you just have to put food out each day and a box for them
*They breed worse than rabbits. The eggs hatch after only 15days, so you can end up with a really large amount of birds if you get a breeding pair. You could possibly get two males, and you'd be ok though, just not two females, they will get visitors coming to see them regularly.
*They poo, a lot, everywhere, and it's not that easy to clean off either.
*Doves/Pigeons are not really a pet, you can't handle them at all, the kids might like checking the eggs, but they won't let you that close anyway and the house is generally high up so not the best for kids to climb up to see really.
Overall, I wouldn't get any kind of dove/pigeon again. If you bred them for meat, or trained them to send messages, they do always come home, but i'm not really seeing any use for them in this time era. They are more trouble than they are worth. For a pet bird (especially with kids), I would highly recommend a budgie, lorikeet or cockatiel, they are not expensive, easy to train and easy to handle..
From Christina_ruth Sep 18 2015 11:56PM