Visiting a flock of over a 1,000 genetically modified fancy pigeons in Reseda, CA with the LA Pigeon Club.
The LA Pigeon Club was founded in 1911 and is one of the oldest clubs in Southern California.
Fancy pigeons are domesticated varieties of the rock pigeon.
They are bred by pigeon fanciers for various traits relating to size, shape, color, and behavior, who often exhibit their birds at pigeon shows, fairs and other livestock exhibits.
There are approx. 800 pigeon breeds; considering all regional varieties all over the world there may be as many as 1100 different breeds in total.
Drew Lobenstein has about a thousand birds on his half-acre plot in Reseda. He got his first pigeons when he was 6. Lobenstein fell in with the pigeon people at the Los Angeles Pigeon Club, which has been active for more than 100 years.
There he met a family, the Atwoods [Bea Atwood pictured], who invited Lobenstein to visit their birds and talk pigeons.
The Atwood family willed the house (which he now lives in) — and a few of the coops — to him about two years ago.
No other domestic animal has branched out into such a variety of forms and colors.
Friends call his yard “genetic Disneyland” for the diversity in the breeds and his stock.
Charles Darwin is known to have crossbred fancy pigeons, particularly the Ice Pigeon, to study variation within species, this work coming three years before his groundbreaking publication, On the Origin of Species.
Before the organization of the LAPC in 1911, the city’s pigeon raisers belonged to the Pacific Coast Pigeon & Bantam Club. Chickens were of more economic importance, and thus the majority of the members in the club were chicken people. When it came to show time, the poultry people got the best cages, the majority of awards, and the best qualified judges.
After several years of this second-class treatment a group of seven pigeon breeders withdrew from the club and formed an exclusive pigeon club, called the Los Angeles Pigeon Club.
Their goals were to hold monthly meets and to host two shows a year. With these modest goals set before them, these seven founding members exhibited faith in themselves and confidence that they would grow into a strong club.
Drew is a well known pigeon geneticist in his field of expertise.
Frillbacks, Fantails, Trumpeters, Pigmy Pouters, Ice Pigeons, and Danzig Highflyers are all descendants of Columba livia domestica, the domestic pigeon.
Fantails look like little sumo-wrestling turkeys.
Large feathers sprout from their tail and fan out, as the name implies. They tuck their heads back behind their breasts and bounce from foot to foot like proud warriors.
The Jacobin aka Queen Victoria.
Lobenstein teaches six public-speaking classes split between Moorpark College and Los Angeles City College and is quite comfortable talking about the birds he loves.
The Archangel is one of the most striking “color” breeds. Their iridescent bodies and contrasting wings create an impressive sight, and it’s not hard to see why this breed was the most popular fancy pigeon in Germany and the Rhine for decades. While the color specifications for the breed standard have changed over the years, the body type has remained largely the same: a stately, large bird, with a well-formed head and proportionate beak. There are many color breeds out there, and they’re some of the most popular “starter” pigeons.
A Trumpeter is showcased primarily for their odd vocalizations and calls, and is known as the “voice” pigeons. Some of the breeds sound trumpet-like, while others make drumming or laughing sounds, but all have sounds that differ from your average pigeon. Though their sounds are important, they’re also judged on looks. Some, like the Arabian trumpeter, look like a fairly standard pigeon.
Others, like the Bokhara trumpeter, look like their head was chopped off and they squished another pigeon beneath their ostentatiously-feathered feet.
7-day old pigeon chick.
Many of the coops on the property date back to Drew’s childhood.
A fresh batch of kittens were also on display…this was the cutest of the bunch.
Can’t see, don’t care
Short-Faced Tumblers are loved for their very “dainty” look, but this look is at the expense of beak length; the tiny beaks of the family (and the Short-Faced types in other breeds and families) mean that they can no longer effectively feed their young, and the squabs must be hand-raised.
Follow Directions Please
It was an awesome day with these fancy little creatures. Thanks Drew!