Fantails - Standard/American - Pigeon-Talk
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TAWhatley TAWhatley is offline
Posted 23rd October 2008, 08:34 PM
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: Lake Forest, CA, USA
Posts: 21,208

Fantails - Standard/American

This information about Standard/American Fantails has been graciously provided by our member, RISINGSTARFANS

on the left is a picture of my winner at last years LAPC Young bird show, taken while she was walking. Note that she is nicely up on her toes with her head in proper show position while in motion. The white fantail on the right is a fine bird that was Grand Champion at the recent Watsonville show. This bird was bred by Rusty Cosby and is shown posing for the camera while at rest.


Before I begin, let me state that there are at least four or perhaps more different breeds of fantails. All originate from a common source, namely the Indian Subcontinent. These four breeds are, in order of popularity: the Fantail, also known as Standard or American Fantail, one of the most popular breeds of show pigeons; the Indian Fantail, fairly well known and popular as a show breed; the Garden Fantail. used primarily as an ornamental bird and is frequently used at weddings, and other ceremonies; and the Siamese Fantail which is possibly extinct but could be easily reproduced.

I will introduce you to the Standard or American Fantail and save the others for somebody else..


The first two things that many people normally ask when they first see a fantail is "does the tail stay up like that all the time?" and "where's its head?"

The fantail is probably the farthest breed from the wild, or feral rock dove of any breed of pigeon, particularly in its normal shape and carriage

The head should rest easily at the base of the upright tail, thereby exposing its breast entirely to the front, and no, it cannot see where it is going walking forward! The upright and circular tail usually prevents it from seeing what is behind it as well!

There are normally between 30 to 40 or even more tail feathers, and this is about three times the 12 tail feathers of most breeds. When walking, and yes, we do judge very heavily on its ability to walk properly, a bird on its front three toes is preferred. Refer to the three pictures included to see what I'm talking about. Ideally, the body should appear round from any angle,

There is a tremendous variety of colors now being bred in fantails, along with three well known patterns. The most popular colors today are white, black, blue barred, silver barred, and powder blue (my Avatar) and powder silver. There are also reds, browns, yellows and variations of all these colors, with twenty five recognized colors described in the standard at this time. In addition, there are saddle marked, body marked with colored body and white tail and its reverse, tail marked, in all the standard colors.

There is another variety of fantails that is not widely bred, and that is the silky, also known as the lace in the UK, that is almost unique in pigeons. All the webbing in the larger feathers are disconnected, giving the bird the appearance of a lace tablecloth or doily. These could be considered the oddest of the odd and are bred in all standard colors. These birds cannot fly at all.

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TAWhatley's Avatar
TAWhatley TAWhatley is offline
Posted 23rd October 2008, 08:36 PM
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: Lake Forest, CA, USA
Posts: 21,208

Standard/American Fantails - Part 2


While the origin is known to be the Indian Subcontinent of Asia, no one knows how long the fantail has been bred. Considering the difficulties on structure and feather deviations from the wild type, a good estimate would be in excess of a thousand generations, or about that many years. What we do know is that the fantail was introduced into Europe in the 15th century, and the British Isles soon became the breeds center of culture. The Scottish and the English had two different versions of fantail, with the Scots having a daintier, smaller tailed bird similar to the modern body type, while the English bred for a huge tail and didn't particularly care about body station. It was not until late in the 19th century that they finally got it together to develop the fantail as we know it today. On the Continent of Europe, fantails deveoped a different version, much taller and more richly colored and generally rounder tail, although they have adopted the American standard of perfection in the last 30 years.

The fantail was first introduced to North America in the mid 1800's and soon became popular, being shown at many of the earliest recorded shows in this country. While the modern breeds original development was in Britain, it was perfected in America, hence the name "American" fantail. The Brits have imported birds from the USA to improve the breed there. We colonials do some things right!

The Eastern Fantail Club was formed in the 1890's and is probably the oldest continually existing specialty club of any breed in the USA, and is still one of the most active. The Central Fantail Club was inaugurated in 1926, and the Pacific Fantail Club, which later merged with the Western Fantail Club, was established in 1947.

Fantails are probably the most well known and widely popular of all fancy breeds worldwide. Normally the fantail ranks in the top five in quantity of entries at shows throughout the country and the world. With eight active clubs in the USA, two in Canada and clubs in England, Germany, France, Holland, South Africa and Australia, it easy to see why. The breed is also becoming very popular in the mid east, with hundreds of quality birds being exported to Kuwait, Dubai, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia .. Very close to the breeds point of origin.

The largest fantail club is the Central Fantail Club of the USA, which has a current worldwide membership of well over 250, and holds specialty meets on three continents in addition to twelve district meets. The largest showing at any fantail meet was at the Central Fantail Club show of 2001, the 75th anniversary show, with nearly1000 fantails being entered.


Fantails are generally considered to be a relatively gentle and tame breed of pigeons, although some individuals can be very aggressive. They can be very territorial in nature, but you will often find several pair nesting closely together. Most fantails prefer to nest on the ground or floor of the loft, as they are relatively poor fliers, and should never be allowed liberty .. they will be eaten!. Many serious breeders use individual breeding pens to insure parentage.

Most are very good parents and feeders, and in fact I have had extra hens that laid fertile eggs after a chance mating with an already mated cock, that set the eggs, hatched them and raised both young solo. In another instance that I witnessed several years ago, a gentleman purchased two pairs of saddle fantails in November, and by the following November had raised nearly 100 young fantails and was threatening to use them as feeders for his homers! Others can be indifferent setters or feeders.

About the only variant from normal pigeons while breeding, is that it is recommended that one closely trim the sides of the tail and occasionally around the vent on hens to assist in the fertilization process.

The Fantail, like most breeds of domestic pigeons, is very hardy and does well in any climate, from sub-arctic to tropical as long as proper feed and water is provided.

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TAWhatley TAWhatley is offline
Posted 23rd October 2008, 08:39 PM
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: Lake Forest, CA, USA
Posts: 21,208

Standard/American Fantails - Part 3


Fantails are probably the most hands-on breed of pigeons. To successfully show fantails, you should learn how to "lace" the tail. This consists of interweaving the feathers of the tail to make it appear even, smooth and as flat as possible. One of the great things about the fantail breed is the people.. Although they may compete fiercely with you, fellow breeders will almost always help you prepare your birds if you are unable to, and will show you how to work with your own birds as well.

Show pen training is a must, preferably in a large walking pen similar to those used in major shows. They should be unafraid of strangers and crowds, but not so tame that they ignore a little coaxing. As with any breed of show pigeon, cleanliness and good health are an absolute must. Also very important is feather condition, which starts with nutrition just before and during the molt. Very high protein and oil seed content of grain mixes are important, as they help enhance the smooth appearance of the feathers. Also, as with any breed of show or racing pigeon, treatment with vitamins and anti-biotics after a show is advised. In addition, the elimination of cooties such as feather and body lice, mites and other nasty little critters will not only make the birds look better, they will be happier and it shows!

Here is a fine example of a quality bodymark fantail, bred and owned by Stan Fail Jr., Turlock, CA


As fantails are a very popular breed worldwide, they are also readily available nearly everywhere. If you are interested in obtaining a pair or two, or even a full loft of them, it is best to determine for what purpose you are keeping them. If it is just for your own personal enjoyment, then perhaps you should consider one of the other varieties of fantails. The show type fantail, being very hands-on in order to maintain its beautiful appearance, requires constant daily attention. That, plus the factor of trimming tails for breeding purposes detracts from its normal beauty, makes the breed less attractive throughout much of the year. Frequent bathing and smoothing of tail feathers is needed to keep these birds looking their best.

Fantails are available in three basic qualities: Pet quality; Stock quality; and Show quality. all should receive the same care, and all cost the same to feed! If you are planning to use a few fantails as an ornamental bird for an enclosed aviary, pet quality will do just fine and are very inexpensive, often no more than five or ten dollars per bird. Every serious breeder produces a few of these each year.

Since the breed can easily become addictive and the urge to produce better quality often takes hold, it is probably best to obtain stock quality, which consists primarily of fantails that are just not quite show quality, having a major fault, several minor faults, or defects in structure, color or feather quality. They are also quite reasonably priced, generally starting around $50.00 for a pair, although some specimens can be valued at up to $100.00 or more each. Stock birds from high quality bloodlines, while not cheap, are the ones that generally are easily capable of producing very high quality show birds!

I would not advise purchasing show quality fantails until you have thoroughly studied and learned the breed, which includes owning and breeding stock birds for some time. By then, you will have probably already produced a few show quality fantails of your own, so that such a purchase would only serve to enhance the family that you have bred yourself! I have witnessed high quality show fantails sell for prices of $500.00 each and much more.


I have not mentioned the written standard of the fantail until this section. The three major fantail clubs in the USA all have the standard of perfection on their website for your examination, and many have additional photographs and drawings of fantails. If you are in the least serious about owning and breeding fantails, I would advise you to visit them and read everything you can on the breed.

These clubs are:

Central Fantail Club:

Eastern Fantail Club:

Western Fantail Club:

In addition, the Dixie Fantail Club has a Website, as well as the Central Canadian Fantail Club and The Fantail Club (UK) Links to these websites can be found on the above club's links page.

Discussion Groups

There are two very active discussion groups with topics ranging from newcomers questions to genetic breeding, and everything in between. They are:

aroundtheworldfantailpigeons, a Yahoo! group with nearly 400 members from about 40 countries and all five continents. Membership is required to access a wide variety of pictures and postings.

northamericanfantailpigeonbreeders, a relatively new Yahoo! group limited to US and Canadian breeders, with about 60 members. Membership required here too.

Individual websites

There are a large number of websites presented by individuals, most notable being those of Dani Falcone of Canada, Amir Turcanovic of Georgia (USA), Bob Vincent of Arizona, and FanFactory (Howard Piper), Queensland, Australia. I particularly value Mr. Vincent's website for the variety of pictures and the many pages of his writings on the breed, much of which is techical in nature. I hope that some day he will consolidate all these into another breed specific book!

Other information Resources

Fantails have been featured five times in special issues of the American Pigeon Journal, in 1961, 1968, 1977, 1985 and 1992, and had a special issue of the Pigeon Debut in 2000, both these magazines have ceased publication. The fantail has been the "Breed of the Issue" twice in Purebred Pigeon magazine, the only breed thus far to have been featured twice!

Two excellent books exist on standard fantails, both of which are out of print and are very hard to find. The first, "The Fantail" written by master breeder Rod Hatcher had a single edition published in 1966, and the second is "The Modern Fantail" co-authored by two well known breeders in 1980, also a single printing. There are a few others by lesser known authors that are of somewhat questionable value. "The Pigeon" by Wendell M. Levi, originally printed in 1941 with several reprints and two revisions, devotes several pages to fantails, and is of particular value regarding the history of the breed.

Most fantail clubs produce regular bulletins, either in print or online, and some both, that have current news, events, breeding tips and show reports regarding fantails

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