Fantail Pigeon: Types | Origin | Characteristics | Complete Breed Guide

You must have seen different types of pigeons- grey, brown, mixed-colored, white, etc. But have you seen a pigeon with a beautiful tail? 

Yes. There is a breed of pigeon which is known as fantail pigeon. These pigeons are no different from other pigeons in any characteristic, but they have a beautiful feathered tail, standing behind them like a Chinese folding hand fan. 

In this guide, you will learn everything about these fantail pigeons.

What Is A Fantail Pigeon?

Fantail pigeon is a wonderful fancy breed of pigeon which is known for its beautiful feathery tail. This tail stands tall on its back. 

These pigeons have been domesticated in many areas of the world for centuries. Their beautiful appearance is the key, and they look like they are ready for a flight. 

Charles Darwin had also mentioned them in the Chapter of On The Origin Of Species.

They originated in India, Pakistan, China, and Spain, and their beauty made them famous all over the world, and they traveled to the US and UK as well. Now, they are known in every part of the globe. 

People love these pigeons and like them as pets. Due to their diverse locations now, there are several varieties of a fantail pigeon.

Related Read: Best Pet Pigeon Breeds | What Breed Of Pigeon Makes The Best Pet?

General Information About Fantail Pigeons

Here is some general information about the fantail pigeons-

  • Scientific Name- Columbia Livia
  • Origin- India, Pakistan, China, and Spain
  • Known For- Special fantail feathers
  • Coats Available- White, Blue, Silver, Black, Yellow, Red, Dun, and various others.
  • Lifespan- 10-20 years

What Are Fantail Pigeons Good For?

If you keep aside the fantail, they are normal pigeons. 

They are kept as pets all over the world due to their striking fantail beauty. But it is their feathers that make them a fancy breed, which is popular for exhibitions and ornamental purposes. 

They are also used while training other racing pigeons and tipplers. They are also used as droppers to make the other pigeons come down and eat. They are smart, beautiful, and good enough to be kept as pets. 

Apart from these, they have made a debut in Bollywood as well. You must have also seen stark white fantails in some Indian movies.

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Related Read: Feeding Racing Pigeons | Complete Food and Nutrition Guide with some Pro – Feeding Secrets

Can Fantail Pigeons Fly?

Fantail pigeons are not very good flyers. They are known for bobbing their heads while walking with fantail feathers on display. They can fly a little and perch on roofs and lofts, but you can’t leave it out in the open sky to soar and come back like homers. 

A little advice: if you have cats at home or around your home, make a safe place for your fantails, as cats love pigeons and won’t regret killing the beautiful bird. 

Plus, they are ornamental birds, and if they keep perching out in the open, they get stolen easily due to their looks.

How To Identify male And Female Fantail Pigeons?

If you have never had a pigeon at your home, you may wonder how someone can distinguish a male pigeon from a female. It is not as simple as telling a male from a female dog. 

There are certain things to check, and you can say which one is the girl and which one is the boy. But sometimes, even the experts can be confused.

The different ways of determining pigeon gender are-

Bird’s Appearance

The simplest way is to see how the bird looks. Male pigeons look bigger than females, and they have large bodies with round heads. They are also heavier than females.

Females are short in comparison with males. They have a flat head and round eyes. Their weight can give them away.

Bird Sounds

The male and female fantails make similar ‘coo’ sounds. But the male is very vocal and coos a lot and scraps its tail feathers on the ground. 

So, one that makes noise is the boy, and the silent one is the female.

Bird Behavior

The males and females are of a very different nature. While the male is vocal and angry, the female is calm. The male bird occupies a larger space in the loft and can often be seen chasing other pigeons. 

It may be an attempt to impress the desired female. They make coo sounds and scrape their tail, and if the female is impressed, she drops her wings and accepts the male.

Both of them then carry on a life together and stay with each other until one of them dies. They care for their eggs and babies together. 

You can see the male sitting in the nest during morning hours. Later in the day, the female takes charge.

Vent System

As a beginner, you may not be able to judge it, but experts use their hands and check the vent system. 

The male pigeon has close pelvic bones under its tail, while the female pigeon has wider bones, so they can push out the eggs.

Check Out Their Tail

It is not a foolproof way of determining gender but by holding two wings of the pigeon, check the bird’s tail. If it’s straight, the bird is male, and if it is turned upward, it is female.

Monitor Their Toes

It’s the side finger that gives away the male and female birds. Males have same-sized fingers, while the side finger of the female bird is smaller than the front fingers.

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DNA Testing

It is the most accurate way to determine the gender of the fantails. Just a little sample of the feathers or blood, and the report will state if your bird is female or male.

Different Types Of Fantail Pigeons

The first traces of fantail pigeons are found in India, China, Spain, and Pakistan. Their references were found in the 16th century. 

The fantails you see today are the work of specialized breeding for years. As trade between India and Europe increased, the fantails arrived in the UK. 

Here, they were also bred with different species of pigeons, and thus emerged the refined fantails. It was the 19th century when the United States started importing them, and they became American Fantails.

Today there are several types of fantail pigeons in different parts of the world. The most famous are- Indian Fantails, English Fantails, American Fantails, Thai Fantails, Silky Fantails, Garden Fantails, etc.

Characteristics Of Fantail Pigeons

Their main characteristic is their feathery tail which has 30-40 feathers spread in a fan shape. Normally pigeons have only 12-14 short-sized feathers. 

The colors and varieties of fantail pigeons are also vast. They are mainly used for exhibitions and ornamental purposes.

These pigeons are monogamous. Their mating season is in summer and spring. The male dances and impresses with his tail scraping, and the female drops her feathers if she likes the male. Then they mate and start building a nest for their babies. 

The nests are usually located in a safe and high place that is safe from any predators. The female lays two eggs in a time span of 2-3 days.

The incubation lasts for 17-19 days, during which both males and females sit on the eggs in their usual shifts.

The female prefers afternoon to evenings, and the males prefer night to morning. The chicks come out after incubation, and both the parents feed the young ones with crop milk. 

This is distinct in pigeons that both males and females have a crop where they generate milk-like substances and feed it to their babies.

The whole childhood of the baby fantail is 4 weeks or 30 days long. They learn about the dangers, of flying, and food, and after a month, they leave the nest.

Different Types of Fantail Pigeons

Today fantails are classified based on their region. Some of them are discussed below-

English Fantail Pigeon

India and Europe had started trade after India came under British rule. As a part of the trade, the Indian fantails were also sent to England. 

These pigeons used to look different back then. Then after several years, they found the right type of fantails. 

English Fantails are popular as Garden Fantails. These are fancy pigeons, especially originating from the UK. They have fewer feathers on their tail compared to Indian fantails, and they can fly well but not as well as homing pigeons.

Related Read: How Much is a Homing Pigeon Worth?

Indian Fantails

Looking at them, you may find that these birds are so proud. They are the oldest fantails in the history of fantails and walk with an upright chest. Their head lies on their chest, which makes a cushion for resting their heads. 

Their tail includes a total of 30-40 feathers and looks amazing. They also have a crest on their heads.  

Their tail and their body are bigger than English fantails, and they weigh around 350-380 grams and walk on their toes. The most common Indian fantails are tan, white, and grayish brown. 

But today, you can find them in various colors like red, dun, blue, silver, yellow, and mixed colors, as they are used for exhibition.

Thai Fantails

Another popular breed of fantails is Thai fantails. They originated from Indian fantails and were sent from Thailand to the United States in the mid 20th century. 

They have 20-25 feathers on their tail and look a lot like Indian fantail pigeons. They have a crested peak and weigh around 430-435 grams.

Mostly they are available in white and black color. They don’t have an oil gland-like Indian fantails and are grouse-legged.

American fantail

It can be said that the US was the last to get its own fantails. It was in the 19th century when American fantails came into existence. They are shorter than Indian fantails and do not have the crest on their head and feathers on their feet like Indian fantail pigeons. 

Also, they rest their head between their chest and tail. Also, they walk on tip-toes, unlike Indian fantails.

Different Colors Of Fantail Pigeons

All over the world, fantail pigeons are available in numerous colors. White and black fantails were quite popular during their inception, but when the cross-breeding started, several different splashes emerged. 

You must have seen pure white fantail pigeons. There are also pure black fantail pigeons which are completely black from head to toe. In India, the most common color is grayish-brown with a hint of tan.

Then, there are mixed splashes as well, white pigeons with black and shaded feathery tails. There are beautiful fantails with a yellow neck and red tail. 

Some most beautiful birds have a mix of all these colors. Pure light grey fantails have also stolen quite some spotlight. 

If you wish to buy them, you must know that their prices differ as per their colors.   

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Are Fantail Pigeons Good Pets?

Many bird owners love fantail pigeons as pets. People want a pet that looks good, and that is pretty easy to raise. If you are not breeding fantails, they are easy to raise, just like other birds. 

They don’t need anything special apart from keeping their feathers beautiful, because that’s why you have bought them, right?

They are friendly, smart, and intelligent birds. They can’t fly much as their erect feathers impede their flight. They are best to keep when you have no other birds in your aviary. 

People report that they don’t mingle well. If raised from a baby, then it may be different. They also bond well with humans if you bring home a hatchling.

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How To Take Care Of Fantail Pigeons?

Fantail pigeons do not require special attention. To take care of your pet, you first need to bond with it. It is better that you bring home a hatchling so it learns to recognize your voice and commands. 

You can teach your pet how to perch on your hands and shoulders, and with training, they start understanding your words.

First of all, give them a home. It can be a loft or a cage if you have a single bird. Spread lots of litter in the house. 

Paper can be messy, and pigeons are not very popular for keeping their surroundings clean.

Related Read: How to Care for Pigeons | Pigeon Keeping for Beginners

Place water bowls and hooded food dishes so they don’t make a mess while eating. Make a habit of changing drinking water every time. Clean the food and water dishes regularly.

Special care is to be taken about their diet. They are fancy pigeons, but their diet is the same as other pigeons. A good quality pigeon mix will do for your pigeon. 

For nutrition, you must add grains to it like wheat, millet, peas, safflower, Milo, buckwheat, corn, etc. Sometimes there are bugs in the grains. Don’t serve them to your pigeon.

Seeds are also a good source of vitamins, so feed them healthy seeds and nuts. Sunflower seeds, sesame, hemp seeds are good. 

You can give them roasted unsalted peanuts, either directly or after crushing them.

Also, include fresh vegetables and fruits to the fantails.  

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Are Fantails Homing Pigeons?

The special character trait of a homing pigeon is that it can come back to its home after hours of flight. It knows the way back home. In the case of fantails, they have no homing qualities. 

Even if their loft is in plain view, they will have a hard time reaching it. Plus, they are not good at flying. It will take them days to cover the distance a homer will fly in hours. 

Even if they find their home, there is a great risk that they will become a hawk’s food before it.

Fantail pigeons are kept as show pigeons. They are also used while training homing pigeons. The flying pigeons can see the fantail sitting on the loft and that the coast is clear for landing.

Related Read: Do pigeons fly at night?

How Much Do Fantail Pigeons Cost?

Fantail pigeons are beautiful, and sellers know it. Thus, their prices are also high. In India, you can buy a pair of Indian fantails for Rs. 1500-2000. 

In England, the same breed is available for £20-25 each.

How Much Space Do Fantail Pigeons Need?

They don’t ask for more space than others, but if you want their feathers to look good and on full display, keep them out in the open for the most part. 

For sleeping, you can make a loft measuring 30x30x30 inches for each bird. Complete it with perches and litter. To keep their feathers in good shape, allow them a bath once a week.

Fantail Pigeon Breeding Tips

It is recommended that if you are a beginner, don’t think about breeding fantail pigeons. It can be messy, and you need to take special care of the pigeons as well as their chicks. 

If you have already planned on breeding them, the following tips will help.

  • Get your birds vaccinated first so that the birds and babies both are safe.
  • Trim your birds’ feathers so that it doesn’t cause any problem while mating.
  • Place some nesting material for the birds as soon after mating, they like to prepare a nest to keep their babies safe.
  • Create a safe and calm environment for the birds. Plus, let the birds get acquainted with each other. It is not something that can be forced.
  • Place a breeding box for birds.

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How Many Eggs Do Fantail Pigeons Lay?

The fantail pigeons usually lay 2-3 eggs. Their breeding season usually arrives in summer or spring.