The Highflier And The Pearl Eye By: KD Spurling
It was interesting to read Hollander's paper on the inheritance of the pearl colored iris in Domestic Pigeons and I feel that he has set down a short, but good guideline on its inheritance for the novice, and also some short, but good facts.
Still, I for one cannot understand how such a careful student and researcher of Domestic Pigeons, and a long one at that, could make such a blunderous statement as to say that 100% of all races in the "highflier" nomenclature are pearl eyed. This idea is simply false and without any factual ground whatsoever.
While it is true that many races of Highfliers are strictly pearl eyed, it is not true of all races. Many prime examples of non pearl eyed highfliers are to be found in Eastern Europe, in particular among the Romanian breeds. Among the Romanian breeds of highfliers (or "Zburator" as they are known there), the Visiniu, Vargat, Cafeniu, Cinepiu and the Orbetean are examples of yellow eyed highfliers. Often, in English and German liter-ature, we see the name "Tumbler" attached to these breeds (the Romanian term for Tumbler is jucator" and "Rolleri" for roller), but in Romania these breeds are classified and named "Zburator" or Highflier. Ps well, while many Russian/Ukranian Tutcheresi, such as the Nikolajevski, Charkovski, Krimski, Militopliski, the Orliks and others do come pearl eyed, the amber colored eye is desired, idealized and most common. Technically, the nomenclature of Highflier would not be 100% correct and "Tutcheresi" means "Cloud Cutter" in Russian. P better class name would be "Style Flier", but as these pigeons should not tumble and can fly at extreme altitudes for a long duration, one could call them High-fliers. The Polish refer to them as being in the "Gornolotne" group of breeds and that means Highflier. As well, there are also many bull eyed highfliers in Eastern Europe.
Moving into the West, while the pearl eye is far more a rule among highfliers, there are exceptions. The Danzig Highflier, altho generally pearl eyed, also occurs with blue eyes, or as the old timers called it "milk eyed". The milk eye was once highly regarded among the old time flying fanciers in Danzig (Gdansk) and was also reported in the Pomeranian Eye Crested Highflier or what are known as "Schaukappen" which is an allied breed of the Danzig. (Incidentally, the translation of the name "Schaukappen" IS NOT "Show Crest". In German, the word "Schau" has several meanings and this form is antiquated and would mean "to see" or "seeing", referring to the eye crests as tho they were some instruments with which to see.)
Moving into Britain, in the old days existed strains of Flying Tipplers with green or jade colored eyes, altho
historic-ally, the breed is pearl eyed. This is despite the fact that a few years ago, a great amount of la-di-da was raised over some green eyed Fantails, about which the owner believed were the first green eyed pigeons anywhere. The green or jade eye existed long before this in Tipplers and it is theoretically possible that the green eyed Fantails had the factor from the Tippler. In the old days, the Fantail/Tippler cross of varying dosages was heavily favored as a dropper by the old time Tippler flier (often very much Fantail, or very much Tippler.) It is possible that this iris color was introduced into certain lines of Fantails in this way. Now note I said "possible", and not "definitely"! On a side note, even tho the Tippler is viewed as a highflying breed, they are technically an endurance bred Tumbler. In fact, the very name of the breed comes from a word in the old So. Yorkshire (Sheffield) dialect: "Tipple", and "tipple" means "to tumble". As this dialect has largely died out, the meaning of the word has largely been altered and many fanciers believe the name would refer to the print type markings which are basically white feathers tipped in blue/bronze. To this day, Tipplers are bred which still do perform, but are managed in such a way that rest-ricts the tumbling action and so it is rarely viewed. The Meyor Tumbler is an American breed of purely Tippler origin which not only flies high and long, but has also been reselected for short rolling. While we are here in the USA, I should also mention the American Flying Blacktail which was developed by John Purvins of Appleton, WI and this breed of highflier is bull eyed.
In the Middle East is a wealth of Highflying breeds, many of which are orange eyed.
Northward into Italy, the Modena (Triganica) was once an example of a tremendous flying pigeon for not only homing and the sport of "le guerra" (The War), but also for high and long flight; that is until the outsider destroyed the breed by cross-ing into Maltese, Hungarians and other Hen pigeons to create a purely exhibition pigeon ~ and 150 years ago. Luckily, a small group of the original breed is still cultivated and flown in the remote parts of Italy. The breed is orange eyed save the false pearl eye of the Brown series and the bull eyed White Schietti (and 30 + years ago there was a nasty controversy regarding orange vs. bull eyes in the White Schietti. The bull eye won.)
Eastward into China, our last stop, the local highflying breeds sport a vast array of eye colors: blue eyes, orange, off red eyes, amber eyes, bull eyes and more in just about every shade conceivable. The pearl eye is not common.
The old Western Highflying fanciers used to believe that the clearer (whiter) the eye, the better the pigeon could see from a high altitude; some believe this to this day. Naturally, it is alot of old fashioned, Western hocus-pocus from the dark ages of pigeon flying that is about as true as to say that a man with blue eyes is superior to a man with brown or green eyes.
So who can say a highflier or tumbler must be pearl eyed? There are plenty of good ones in all eye colors and its a matter of personal preference only. Some of my best Kalla Tumblers are actually pink eyed dilutes and therefore have the albino type eye and one of the best endurance pigeons I ever bred was actually missing an eye and the remaining eye was bull!
The good ones come every which way: pearl eyed, orange eyed, yellow eyed blue eyed, green eyed, gravel gray eyed, red eyed, pink eyed, bull eyed, odd eyed, cracked eyes. I had the one with only one eye, and I even once saw a very good Almond Roller, a fantastic pigeon in the air and that bird was pop eyed. He couldn't see worth a damn and he was horrible to look at, but he rolled like a bull, 5-8 yards and as fast and straight as they come.