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West of England Tumbler Pigeon

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Jim Gifford

Is the West of England Tumbler Pigeon right for you?

Species group:

Other common names: N/A

Scientific name: Columba livia domestica

The basics:
The West of England Tumbler Pigeon is a remarkable dual purpose variety that is suitable either for flying or for exhibition. That said, the overwhelming majority of birds bred in the United States are show birds, with emphasis on the interesting colors, markings, and patterns that are possible with this large, solid breed. West of England Tumblers are very well-regarded as reliable breeders, which is one reason for their rise in popularity with American fanciers.

However, in the British Isles, many fanciers are still interested in flying the birds. There, West of England Tumblers are known for an ability to fly very high, almost to the point of disappearing in the sky, before they descend. They turn or tumble occasionally, reflecting their origins as a high-flying performing bird, but they may not tumble so persistently as some other species.

Like today's Birmingham Roller Pigeons, the early West of Englands could perform in teams known as “kits.” Some records from the 19th century suggest that birds were flown for up to twelve hours, and they were trained to go extremely high, while still retaining the ability to perform a series of short snappy backwards somersaults. Today, some breeders are working to develop birds that don't go quite as high as the traditional bird, which is sometimes described as going up to become a speck in the sky.

Appearance:
The “muffs” on the legs help draw attention to these large, handsome pigeons with attractive white or pearl eyes. You'll have a wide choice of mutations. One exhibitor has described them as “America's color breed,” because of the wide variety of handsome colors and markings that you can achieve with a little work.

Weight:
255 - 340 grams (8 - 12 oz.)

Average size:
20 - 23 centimeters (8 - 9 in.)

Lifespan:
7 - 10 years

Behavior / temperament:
The West of England Tumbler Pigeon is respected for its calm attitude and natural tameness, which makes it one of the easier fancy pigeons for beginners to breed with success. If you have a single pet, take advantage of the bird's easy-going personality by teaching it to fly to your hand for treats. Be aware of your predator situation, and do not fly your birds outside when you have bird of prey activity in the area.

Housing:
The majority of West of England Tumbler 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.

If you are planning to fly a performing kit, you need a specialized loft called a kit box, where you can house your competition team together, since you will train them to leave and return after each performance. For more information, it's imperative to connect with other hobbyists, who can guide you as you learn to train your Tumblers.

Pigeons do bathe in water, so they 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.

Diet:
The West of England Tumbler 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 West of England Tumbler by hand during the training and bonding process. However, if you are training performing birds, rather than showbirds, you will need to supply a little more higher fat seed, because that's fuel for this high-flyer. Regardless of whether you have performers or show birds, you should offer chopped greens like kale, dandelion greens, spinach, or fresh sprouts each day. Some people offer high beta carotene foods like finely chopped carrot or papaya. Hard or sprouted beans seem to be well-liked.

West of England Tumblers 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

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