Silky plumage in pigeons; some people love it while others detest it. Whatever you think about it, fact is that this feather mutation survived for ages in the pigeon fancy and is recognized as a permitted feather variety in the Fantail in most countries. Unknown, unloved. So for that reason some facts are given here about Silky pigeons.
The first records
The silky condition, also referred to by Fantail breeders as "lace", has existed for centuries, and many writers have discussed it. The first one was Aldrovandi. In his Ornithologia (1599) he described the 'Silky hair pigeon' as being an unusual appearance and according to him these pigeons came from the Netherlands. He called them Columba pennis crispis (from the Latin word crispus = curled). These were normal shaped pigeons, and they only occurred in white. Probably the first picture and description of a silky Fantail was by John Moore in his Columbarium (1735).
Linneaus also described and named the Silky pigeon in the 10th edition of his Systema Naturea (1758). He called it Columba hispida (from the Latin word hispidus = rough, hairy). Just like the ones Aldrovandi described Linneaus' doves were normal shaped pigeons with silky feathers. He thought they came from Africa.In impersonation of Aldrovandi Brisson (1760) also mentioned the Silky pigeon and he called it Columba crispa.
In the book A treatise on Domestic Pigeons (1765), by an anonymous writer, a white silky pigeon, Runt-like in type with a crest, is portrayed and described. In the 12th edition of Systema Naturea (1766) the Silky pigeon is still called Columba hispida, although Linneaus now referred to Aldrovandi's crispis as being the same 'species'. Linnaeus now thought hispida came from India.
Most of these writers described 'the pigeon with the hairy feathers' as being an original form (species). It is obvious that they didn't know that these pigeons actually were varieties, because mutations, inheritance and genetics were unknown phenomena's in those days.
Charles Darwin (1868) was familiar with silky plumage in pigeons as well, and he knew it was a variety although he didn't know anything about the inheritance of this character.
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