"HOW DID THE ENGLISH
CARRIER COME TO BE"?
I had and have English Carrier pigeons now. I often wondered how this "strange" pigeon came about? I don't claim to be an expert on the subject by no means, but had raised English Carriers for years and the question still taunts me! The English Carrier is derived (as are all pigeons) from the Europeon "Rock" pigeon (extinct). Another pigeon, the "Horseman"(now extinct)played an important part in the development of the English Carrier. I've seen sketches of the "Horseman" pigeon and it looks like either a Cropper or Pouter? I could see where this type would contribute to the range and carriage, to some extent, but what about the wattle and cere? In regards to the "Rock" pigeon, the sketches I've seen reminds me of either a type of "Dove" or pigeon with fine wattle and cere. Both the English Carrier and Barb have been noted in writing as far back as the early 17th century and probably even earlier. I believe the common ancestors to our "modern" English Carrier were: "Rock" pigeon, "Horseman" pigeon, "Barb", and either a "Persian Carrier" or "Baghdad" or variety within and the "Dragoon". The "Horseman" would give some reach, however you'd still have to breed out the crop of the "Horseman". The "Barb" outcrossed with the "Persian Carrier" from prior breeding with the "Horseman" would give you both some range and increased wattle and cere size. If say (for instance) that after a period of cross and direct breeding between the Persian Carrier and Horseman and the same between that ancestry with the Barb, eventually you'd obtain a pigeon that would show the qualities of a 17th century "type" of English Carrier. This "type" of Carrier had simular qualities as todays except for less range (ie the length from top of head to end of tail feathers)and somewhat shorter legs. Enter the "Dragoon"! The Dragoon (like the English Carrier) is a multiple product of direct and outcross breeding via the Barb and Persian Carrier etc. You might even say that the Dragoon "reinvented itself"! What I mean is that upon improving the station ie stance of the Carrier also inherently improved the station of the Dragoon. The Dragoon also is a product of the Horseman outcrossing. Please note, when I refer to "outcrossing" I mean breeding "crossing" to another breed to either improve upon a trate or rid of a trate and then breeding the young back to the original stock. Of course, to develop different breeds of pigeons there has to be several generations of outbreeding and direct breeding to acheive the desired breed (results). Remember all is not as clear cut as I represent here as pigeons have several hundreds, if not thousands of generations behind them! Note also that genes are either recessive or dominent. An example of this in humans is: blue eyes are always recessive and brown eyes can be either recessive or dominent. If brown eyes are dominent then the majority of the children will have brown eyes. If brown is recessive paired with recessive blue eyes then the offspring could have either brown or blue eyes. Applied to breeding new strains ie breeds you want to make the "desired" features dominent (ie show up most of the time), and the less desired trates (recessive) show up the least amount of times. The "ideal" of the English Carrier was: long neck and range, large eye cere, wattle and jewing (to form a "walnut" shape) a long straight face with a light colored beak, and a bird that stood as verticle to the ground as possible. The English Carrier was the "original Homing Pigeon" and all Homers and Racers have some Carrier blood in them! Today the English Carrier is used only for show purposes. Don't let their large size fool you! Carriers are still a hearty bird and can fly fairly good. They are also quite docile in nature dispite their forminable size. Anyway, Carriers have been developed much more for their appearance than "homing ability". I might add that "Carrier" and "English Carrier" are often used to describe the same breed. I like using "English Carrier" to distinquish it from the "Persian Carrier". Some folks also term Homing Pigeons "Carriers" as well. The English Carrier (as we know it today) was primarily developed in England and reached it's ultimate "type" there (hence the name). In closing, I would not recommend English Carriers for the beginner! They require more loft space and more patience in respect to breeding (ie in respect of typing birds for better types). Be very careful when puchasing young English Carriers as usually it takes between 2-3 years before the wattle(upper) and jewing(lower) parts come to formulate "a true English Carrier". I purchased my birds on faith, as recognized to be true form English Carriers. Most times you can tell after a year where the Carrier will have a wedge-shaped wattle much more prominent near the eye. It's between 2 to 3 years when the English Carrier will show their true potential in both wattle and cere. Fancier's have called the English Carrier "The King of Pigeons"! I tend to agree with this statement as they are strong tight feathered birds with a station that "seems to say: Regal"! I have and had several varieties of pigeons but the English Carrier is my favorite. Thanks for reading! I'd like to thank Birdie Orrick for prompting me into writing this up. Hope you liked it. Dan. PS Please visit my homepage at: For several other links.