Photo: Richard Bailey
We at Smith Journal have long commended pigeons for their many invaluable contributions to fields such as the postal service, aerial photography, fine art and pollution detection. But we also recognise that some pigeons just want to be fancy.
There’s a long lineage of fancy pigeons, which includes the iridescent Archangel, the curly-feathered Frillback and the proud, chest-puffing Norwich Cropper. For some pigeons, it’s just the breed name that’s fancy, ranging from good names for cocktails (the Shiraz Tumbler, the Indian Fantasy, the Bohemian Ice Cropper) to what sound like obscure European military decorations (the Wolverhampton Badge, the Lucerne Gold Collar, the Franconian Velvet Shield).
But far and away the fanciest pigeon in the world would have to be the Jacobin pigeon, or ‘wig pigeon’, with its magnificent, ornate feathered hood, known as a ‘rosette’. It borrows its name from the 12th-century Jacobin order of monks, whose decidedly less fancy hoods bore a passing resemblance to the pigeon’s.
The Jacobin is said to have strutted into existence in India, sashaying over to Europe in the 16th century. Queen Victoria was a big fan, as was Charles Darwin, who studied and bred pigeons while developing his theory of evolution. (Darwin’s daughter Henrietta described the family’s Jacobin as “rather feeble-minded”.)
There’s little chance you’ll spot a Jacobin among the riffraff that congregate on our dirty, chewing gum-splattered city streets. But keep your eyes out on the catwalk.
National Pigeon Association