Budapest Highflier Pigeon

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Is the Budapest Highflier Pigeon right for you?

Species group:

Other common names: Poltli; Budapest Short-faced Tumbler Pigeon

Scientific name: Columba livia domestica

The basics:
The Budapest Highflier or Budapest Short-faced Tumbler Pigeon is one of several varieties that were originally developed as a performing breed but, over time, became transformed into an exhibition breed. The original highflier could allegedly fly so high that it was little more than a dot in the sky before it dropped back into the loft. As a tumbler, it was also trained to perform in kits – competitive teams of birds that could “tumble” through the air together. Today, most fanciers focus on breeding show birds, and the name Budapest Highflier may be falling into dis-use since it's questionable if any true highfliers are still extant.

The Budapest Short-faced Tumbler was probably developed in Hungary in the late 19th century. Unfortunately, the breeders were somewhat secretive about their methods for breeding this unique-looking pigeon, and now the cities of Vienna and Prague, as well as Budapest, make some claims to the creation of this variety. Originally developed to soar high and to tumble through the air, the modern version of the Budapest Highflier is losing this ability. The birds may still tumble, but they won't be competing against strong performance breeds like the Birmingham Roller any time soon.

The Budapest Short-faced Tumbler Pigeon is a slim, active bird with a distinctive square head with a very short beak and huge, rather bulging circles of bare flesh around the eyes, which give these striking birds an alert, frog-eyed expression.

255 grams (9 oz.)

Average size:
28 centimeters (11 in.)

7 - 10 years

Behavior / temperament:
As a short-faced breed, the Budapest Short-faced Tumbler struggles to feed its own young. The successful breeder will foster babies to a variety that makes a good parent, such as the Racing Homer Pigeon.

As pets, these cute pigeons with the froggy eyes are noted for their wonderful personalities and their alert, happy natures. They respond to human affection, so why not teach your birds to eat from your hand? Never isolate a single pet, as the social Budapest Highflier requires attention.

The majority of Budapest Short-Faced Tumbler Pigeon keepers are breeders and exhibitors who keep their birds in a specialized loft. Talk to another breeder before you design your loft, and make sure that it is easy to clean and secure from mosquitoes, 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. Consider a security system to deter thieves.

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 if at all possible, since performing Budapest Highfliers seem to be a vanishing breed.

All pigeons 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. Also, if you have them sharing a loft with larger pigeons using standard equipment, make sure that these smaller birds can actually reach the food and water.

Budapest Highfliers 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. For these smaller birds, consider a tumbler pigeon mix, since they may not be able to eat the larger seeds such as larger black sunflowers found in a standard mix. Special pellets formulated for pigeons can be used to supplement the diet, to ensure that your bird has enough vitamins and protein.

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 Budapest Short-faced 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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