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Frillback (Lockentauben)

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Like many breeds of fancy pigeon, the exact origin of the Frillback is unknown. What is known for certain, however, is that the Frillback is a very old breed of pigeon.

The Frillback is believed to have come from an area of Asia Minor, or perhaps even southeast Europe. The breeding of Frillbacks goes back to at least 1640, and is mentioned in writing as early as 1735. In 1757 Hazelquist saw pigeons in Cairo "on which each and every feather was twisted or turned round." The Frillback was mentioned in 1765 when the "Treatise on Pigeons" was published in England, and in 1881 Brent reported seeing white crested in the Netherlands. There was certainly isolated breeding of Frillbacks in England and Germany in the first half of the 18th Century. It is believed that the red and blue grizzle first appeared in Austria or Hungary, and some believe that a clean-legged variety was bred in Egypt and Asia. The shell-crested whites are attributed to Holland and Milan. A picture from the 1800s in the German Pruetz shows that there were indeed clean-legged and stocking-legged varieties of Frillbacks. This picture also reveals the dramatic change in quality of the Frillback over the years. The white crested has been present in the United States since 1920 and have been exhibited every year at the Pageant of Pigeons Show since 1946. The dilute modifier was introduced into Frillbacks in Germany in 1936, becoming very popular. In 1951 the first colored varieties to be imported to the United States was red and blue grizzles from Europe. Tom McCaig of California is given credit for developing recessive red, yellow and gold Frillbacks in 1971, having imported birds carrying the dilute modifier during the 1950's. Tom McCaig has also introduced white-side Frillbacks in recessive red. Black Frillbacks were first exhibited in Germany around 1908 and yellow grizzles were first exhibited at the World Congress Fair in 1936. Shield-marked or saddle Frillbacks are attributed to Prussia and were first seen over one hundred years ago. Today Frillbacks come in virtually every color. Due to recent developments in Germany, shell-crested shield-marked Frillbacks in red, yellow, blue, black, mealy and cream are now accepted. The German Frillback club was formed in 1905 and has been the world leader in the breed every since. The American Frillback Club (AFC) was formed in the 1960's.

Today the breed is widespread, in major part due to the efforts of Tom McCraig, who is considered the top breeder of Frillbacks in the United States.

ORIGIN CREDITS: Tom McCraig, Paul Allen, Gary Young, Gventer Wenzl
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Surprisingly, the Frillback does not require a tremendous amount of preparation for show since you really cannot fix a poorly curled bird.

Many fanciers will use a wooden popsicle stick to gently comb and lift the feathers away from the bird’s body. Dirty muffs and tail feathers should be cleaned on white birds. Per the breed standard, misplaced colored or white feathers can be plucked (i.e. a stray white feather on a black self bird). Like all breeds of show pigeon, excessive nail and beak growth should be filed. Black birds can be kept out of sunlight prior to a show to prevent bleaching. Also many suggest removing bathwater several days prior to the show to allow the feather bloom to return. If the bird has a crest it can be shaped with the fingers if needed.

To keep birds in best condition, I personally like to remove them from the loft a week before the show. I then place each individual bird in a deeply bedded rabbit or guinea pig cage with an upturned flowerpot in the middle of the cage to sit on. This keeps them clean, insures that they are getting enough food, makes it easier to catch them on show day, and seems to reduce stress. I find that this also helps to get them used to being in a show cage.


The Frillback is well known for being slow to mature, and because of this they are often late breeders, with the first round of eggs being infertile. Using artificial lights and ensuring optimum health of the birds can help remedy this. Birds with large muffs (particularly seen in red grizzle, crested white, and shield-marked varieties) can be trimmed to avoid squeakers being inadvertently pulled out of the nest bowls. Some breeders also trim the vent feathers to aide with breeding. Frillbacks do not tend to make nests, so many times a nest will have to be constructed for them. Each bird is an individual; some will be fantastic parents while others will require the help of a feeder. I myself prefer to let my Frillbacks raise only one squab while a feeder pair raises the other.

Breeders should know the base color of every bird in his or her loft, and keep a record of it. There are three bases, blue, red, and brown, and many modifiers that act on these bases. Most fanciers suggest starting with the best quality bird that you can afford, and this is wise advice if you want results fast, however if you are committed to the breed and prepared to spend many years developing your bloodline then you do not have to start with the best-of-the-best -- after all Frillbacks did not start out with the perfect perms they have today. I myself have a wide range of quality in my loft due to my efforts to secure unrelated birds. I think it is great to have high-quality birds from some of the top breeders, however if you have too many related birds you will just be adding to the problem of inbreeding.

*Color Study

It would seem that the average Frillback is prone to stress-related ailments. In general the Frillback is a nervous and flightly breed, easily upset, most likely because of extreme inbreeding. The German variety, due to the Trumpeter influence, is markedly calmer than American-bred birds. In fact, my German-bred Frillbacks are extremely tame and do not seem to get upset by anything, having a regal, confident, and sometimes lazy poise. Consistant handling from a young age, and exposure to the show cage, is essential to ensure that the bird does not become stressed at shows or give the judge any trouble. This bird is not typically suggested for beginners.

Availability and Cost
There is far more demand for Frillbacks than actual Frillbacks, and because of this there is not enough culling going on in America, which results in the breeding of mediocre birds. Many fanciers are happy to give away a pair to someone just getting started, often times with the stipulation that you must join the American Frillback Club. A Frillback, like any other pigeon, can cost anywhere from $5 to upwards of $150 a bird, depending on quality.

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The Frillback Standard

HEAD -Plainhead, Crest, Eye, Beak, Wattle..................................................................... 15
COLOR-Luster, Shade, Richness, Markings.....................................................................15
BODY -Neck, Breast, Back, Legs, Wings, Tail..................................................................10
CURL - Coverage, Length, Ending. Closing, Ringlet, Curl................................................,.....50
MUFF-Length, Hock, Shape, Feather Curl............................................................10
TOTAL POINTS........................100

SELF - White, Black, Recessive Red and Yellow.
PATTERN - Recessive Red and Yellow in Mottle, Rosewing, or Whiteside.
GRIZZLE - Red, Yellow, Blue, Silver.
SHIELD MARKED - Red, Yellow, Blue Black Bar, Silver Dun Bar, Mealy Ash Red Bar, Ash Cream Bar.
ARC-Any rare color
ARCP-Any rare color pattern.


(A) There must be at least Three (3) exhibitors entering Frillbacks within each color group or pattern. They must be entered in Three (3) of the Five (5) AFC District shows (per year) for a period of Three (3) years. Each year the judging scores must increase with proper progress.
(B) At the completion of this process the Color Committee will present the request for consideration to the AFC Master Judges for proper genetics and markings for review, as appropriate.

The type is that of a strong wide breasted medium high-stationed Field Pigeon. The plumage is somewhat loose. The main characteristic or distinctive feature is the curled feather of the wing shield.

Slightly larger than most color pigeon breeds, having larger wings and longer tail. The length of wing and tail feathers to be in proportion to the rest of the body size.

Medium large slightly arched Shell crest and plainhead are present in all colors. The following is the point breakdown of 15 points for head areas:

Crested: Beak and Wattle, 1; Eye, 3; Head (Shape), 1\ Shell Crest, 8 = 15 points.
Plainhead: Beak and Wattle, 2; Eye, 3; Head (Shape), 10 = 15 points.

The head should be medium large, but in proportion to the size of the body. The shape should be slightly oval with a well-rounded forehead. There should be a definite stop of the forehead at the wattle. There should not be any flat areas of the head.

Shell shaped, positioned upon the back of the head, high and erect, full with feather, thick and have small Rosettes on each side of the crest The crest feathers should stand straight up, not bugging the head, and be even across at its base.

Not large, located in a direct line with the beak. Red or orange colored iris is desired on all colors and patterns except shield marked. The shield marked pattern should have bull or black eye on all colors. Pearl, cracked or gravel eyes are major faults.

The beak is long and slender, held straight out. curved on the tip, frequently the upper beak is slightly longer that the lower beak. Beak color is dark on red and blue grizzle; black on blacks; light on yellow and horn on silver; flesh colored on whites, recessive red and yellow; mottles, rosewing and whiteside. Flesh colored on all shield marked colors. Wattle is thin, small and covered with white powder on all colors.

Strong in appearance
Full, protrudes from the shoulders. Has very little throat but well cut away. Feather creases a fault.
Broad, nicely plump, somewhat set forward, protruding
Wide across the shoulders, slightly arched and sloped
Medium long with muscular appearance, powerful.

Wide feathers, rather long and borne relatively loose. The tail should not exceed over the width of the two feathers. Almost, but not dragging the ground. Each feather must have a definite wave or wrinkle.

Wide wing shield. The body is well covered. Wings to be closed over the back and rest on the tail. Whig tips should not cross. Wing butts closely aligned with the body. Each wing feather must have a definite wave or wrinkle. Wing and tail feathers should not be excessively long in length.

Muff or foot feathering is preferred, two to three inches in length, full and forming an arc shape. Feathers of the hock and foot feathering must have a definite wave or wrinkle, the feather ending with a curl or frill. Extremely long muff is a fault.

Most important factor in judging. The feathers should not be so fluffy or straight that a well-defined curl can't be formed. The curl should cover the entire wing shield, dense on the shoulders, so that no open areas stand out Curl should be completely closed in the bar area. The last row of curl, toward the tail, should run the entire length of the wing, and be long in length, thick, wide and the feather ending should form a closed curl ending with a round ringlet at the end. Feather cur) should also be present at the ends of the foot feathers or muff and at the ends of the hock feathers. The flight feathers of the wing and tail feathers should have a definite wave or wrinkle. ATTENTION: The amount, size, closed curl, curl ringlet, total wing and curl coverage cannot be stressed enough. Remember the breed's name, FRILLBACK.

Disease, physical deformity of any kind, poor condition, any artificial alteration or added appearance other than natural growth, or faking in any manner, all above at the judge's discretion.

Pure white, without yellow tinge. Color faults: Black or bull eyes, not a clear beak color, colored feathers.

Jet-black color with as much beetle green luster as possible over the entire plumage. The major goal is to obtain an even shade over all the body, flights and tail. Color faults: Grayish brown or dull color, flight feathers dull compared to other black areas, visible bars, tail bar, light colored beak.

Self-red. An even shade throughout of clear rich, bright red. Beak flesh colored. Color faults: blue or gray tints in the red.

Self-yellow. An even shade throughout of clear, rich bright yellow. Beak flesh colored. Color faults: Blue or gray tints in the yellow.

All colors to have a White body with the shield being colored. Must have colored secondaries and 7-10 White Primaries...Note: Up to 12 White Primaries are tolerated along with small amounts of colored feathers in the thigh.

Rich red. Head very light grizzle color, without whole white feathers or splashing. Neck, breast and bars must be rich red. The flight feathers, when closed, should present a white appearance, but when opened out the inner web of each feather should exhibit a rich red grizzle. The tail should have a clear white appearance. A slight reddish color is permissible in the rump. Wingshield light to dark grizzle. Color faults: Bluish breast or rump and color in the feathers of the closed flights and tail, light beak, overall light red color.

Color and markings are the same as the red grizzle, but the ground color should be a beautiful rich yellow. Color faults: Dark colored beak, any color in the feathers of the closed flights, tail and rump.

Blue grizzle appears in both light and dark blue. The neck is darker metallic green than the breast and shield. The wing bar is dark gray-black to entirely black. The tail and wings are blue, with a darker bar. The head neck and wing shield feathers should be blue with part of the feather being white, which forms the sprinkling of white or grizzle pattern. Basic blue shade should be the same wherever on the bird. Flight feathers should not have any red tone or any white parts. Any red feathers or rust at all on the wing shield or bar should not be present Color faults: Too much white on the head, neck or flight feathers, weak shade of blue, and rust or red on the wing shield.

The dilute of blue grizzle. Color and markings are the same as the blue grizzle, but the ground color should be a beautiful fawn color with no tendency toward a creamy color. The wing and tail bars shall be dun. Beak horn color. Color faults: Too much white on the head, neck, or flight feather, weak shade of silver, and rust or red on the wing shield.

Recessive red or yellow self with pattern wing shield.
Rosewing- Self colored bird with & to 20 white feathers on tie wing shoulders.
Mottle - Self colored bird with the wing shield mixed with white feathers and half colored feathers.
Whiteside - Self colored bird with the wing shield entirely white.
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