English Short Faced Tumbler
The English Short Faced Tumbler is a unique breed of fancy pigeons that has been bred for many hundreds of years. As its name suggests, its origin is in Great Britain. Many hundreds of years ago, both the ESF, as they are commonly known, and the English Long Faced, or ELF shared a common ancestry. No one today knows when the two breeds became seperated, but the differences today are astounding. The ESF is a very small and dainty breed of pigeon, smaller than any, save perhaps the Figurita, while the ELF is much larger, nearly the body weight of the racing homer. The primary differences are not just in size, but in shape and feathering.
The head of the ESF is small, with a pronounced forehead or frontal, and is quite wide for its size. Also, its body is very short with a wide chest, and its wings are carried below the rather wide tail. The ELF, on the other hand, has a large, fully circular head, and its body is proportionately larger, with its wings carried atop the tail.
The "short" and the "long" in reference to its facial features does not refer to beak length, but to the proportionate distance between the eye and the opening of the mandibles. Both varieties have short beaks, but the ESF has what we call a "finch" beak, very small and finely pointed, while the ELF has a short, boxy beak that is rather thick and blunt. Of the two show breeds. the ELF is far more popular and commonly found in shows throughout the world.
As mentioned above, the breed is one of the smallest known today. While it has slightly more body weight than the smaller breed, the figurita, this is due to its exraordianry chest width. Other than body width, all other dimensions are actually smaller!
ESF's are very heavily feathered, often having 13 or 14 tail feahers as opposed to the normal 12, and a rather wide, low set tail is prefered. The whole pigeon is low....short legs, as well, but the head should be held high on a proportionatly thick neck for the birds size. A picture is worth far more than a thousand words, so here are a few:
Almond and Kite pair geting ready for more young
A couple of ESF babies
The ESF comes in a variety of colors, although the base colors normal to most pigeons, blue in either barred or checkered wings is unknown in the breed. Arguably the most common colors of ESF are Almond and Agate, with Kite not far behind. The Almond in ESF is the most pure and striking of any found in pigeons, and is refered to as "Classic Almond", which sets the standard for all other breeds. The ground color of the almond is described as "the color of the inside of an almond shell" and is flecked evenly with spots of black and reddish spots throughout the body, wings and tail. As young birds, almonds have little flecking, but it becomes more pronounced with age. Very often, birds of three or four years old are the ideal, but as they darken, much older almonds appear almost black!
Agates, on the other hand, are very attractive in very deep chestnut red or its dilute coloring a golden yellow, with pronounced white feathers on the wing shield. Kites, on the other hand, appear drab, having a blue tail, but almost black throughout the rest of the bird, with tints of bronzing through the flight feathers and into the wing shield. Solid reds and yellows are not uncommon, and in the last several years, bladheads have been developed. As previously noted, blues are almost unknown, as well as whites.
Another color known, but not desired, is homozygous almond, which is the result of mating almonds together. It appears to be the same ground color as almond, but with no flecking, and is often a fatal combination, often affecting blindness or bloated eyes.
The primary consideration for anyone wishing to breed the ESF is dedication! All the ESF breeders I have ever known were totally dedicated to the breed....they have to be, as you will be required to give babies as much care and nurturing as you would your own children..
As with many short-faced breeds, ESF are unable to care for their own young, but surprisingly, are excellent parents for long faced smaller breeds such as rollers and parlor tumblers. At least two or better three, pairs of feeders are needed for each pair of ESF! Probably the best feeders that many have found are Parlor Tumblers, which is how I became familiar with both breeds through my late friend Merrill Peters.
Fertility is often a problem, and an average pair of ESF will lay just as many eggs per year as normal pigeons, but a rate of 30% of those eggs hatching is considered quite good. Rarely more than three or four young per pair each breeding season is the norm.
As mentioned above, colors are inportant to successful breeding, as almond to almond is unwise, and often dangerous. Almonds are produced by crossing almond to either agate or kite, with the kite cross usually giving more proper flecking.
One would think that such a highly inbred and tiny breed would be high strung and nervous. Nothing could be further from the truth! ESF are very docile and tame and make outstanding house pets. They are quiet and gentle and easily trainable! Only normal care is needed for them, except in the breeding pen.
AVAILABILITY AND COST
ESF are quite difficult to find. I have scanned various websites, including eggbid.com, and have seen very few offered. If one truly desires to purchase a pair or two, I would advise contacting one of the various short-faced tumbler specialty clubs that exist throughout the world. Several breeders can be found that have occasional birds available, and also have web pages or entire websites. A Google search will turn up many. They are, as you might suspect, quite expensive due to the cost of keeping feeders and the amount of difficulty encountered with keeping and breeding birds of such quality.
Websites to check out:
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