King Pigeon: Breed Varieties | Characteristics | Origin | Complete species guide

A king pigeon indeed looks like a king of pigeons. 

When you see the beautiful large bird, you will be compelled to admire its proud gait, curious eyes, heavy body, and not-like-pigeon shape. They look like a chicken, are heavy like a rooster, and beautiful like a pigeon. 

This guide is all about king pigeons, their origin, characteristics, breeds, colors, etc.  

What Are King Pigeons? What Is Their Origin?

King Pigeons are the show birds. Their native country is America, where they were bred as a utility breed. They are large-sized birds that are available in different colors around the world. They are called kings due to their large size.  

This bird was specially created at the end of the 19th century in the United States. It took years of selective breeding for King pigeons to come into existence. 

The rock pigeon is said to be its ancestor, and the bird you see today is a fusion of four different breeds that were bred together for different characteristics.

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

The four different pigeon breeds were-

Duchess

Chosen for its grace.

Maltese

Chosen for its unique style and compactness that gives the king pigeon its distinct identity.

Homer

Chosen for the alertness.

Runt

Chosen for its body and large size.

The original Duchess is said to have been brought from Germany. 

Maltese is the variety that was crossed between German and French pigeon breeds. It is not brought from Malta if you are wondering so. 

Homer is a native of England or Belgium. The Runt is a giant breed that itself was bred for meat. It is an American native itself.

They originated in the USA but traveled to Europe and Asia and are still found in many countries on these continents. 

You can witness them in action in exhibitions and pigeon shows.

Related Read: Black and White Pigeon Breeds | Comprehensive List Of Interesting Breeds

What Are King Pigeons Bred For?

The purpose of breeding King pigeons was simple: farm a pigeon that could lay eggs, produce lots of squabs, and yield large amounts of meat.  

Usually, pigeons don’t have lots of meat on their bones. Thus, this breed was created to fulfill the needs of meat. 

Due to their commercial food usage, they were also called utility pigeons. But America didn’t have such large pigeon breeds; thus, mainly European breeds were bought for breeding. 

The four very different breeds were bred, and the result was good, as the fusion improved the species.

They were multipurpose pigeons that yielded meat, were kept as pets and were also used in shows and exhibitions. 

One of their variations is that this breed is only used for show purposes, known as Show King.

Today, however, these pigeons are kept as pets instead of used as food.

Related Read: Do Pigeons Give Milk?

How To Identify A King Pigeon?

You may get confused between a feral pigeon or a rock pigeon, but King pigeons are unmistakable. To identify a king pigeon, look for the following characteristics.

  • They look vertical, from their head to toes. They look more like a chicken than a pigeon when it comes to their height.
  • They are very large. Usually, pigeons are smaller, but this type is King-size. 
  • Their legs are not clear as other pigeons but have thick feathers on them, which are thin near the toes. The legs are not feathery but not skinny as other pigeons. 
  • They look plump and round, not long horizontally, not vertically. They are taller but not as wide as other pigeons. 
  • They are mostly found in white color, although there are many color patterns available. 
  • They have a large, puffy, proud chest and a short upward tail.  
  • They are not aggressive at all. Breeders find them quite easy to raise. 
  • They are also very intelligent and peaceful.  
  • Their average body size is-
    • Height- 11-12 inches
    • Width- Chest is more than 5 inches.
    • Depth- Approx. 4 inches, and more. 
  • Their weight can go as high as 32 oz for an adult male. The average weight is 20 oz.  

It will be easy to identify this one if you stand among different pigeon breeds. It is quite distinct.

How To Distinguish A Male And A Female King Pigeon?

As both the male and female are large-sized, it is not easy to tell the male from the female without critical examination. 

But, you can examine their behavior to make a guess. If you are wrong, don’t be disappointed. Even the breeders find it tricky. 

When in the flock, the male will be more protective of a female. Females are very calm, and they don’t show much interest in protecting their pair. 

The male nods his head at the female to convince it for courting. The females spread their wings as their answer. 

Also, the male coos a lot and claims more space, while females are not greedy. They calmly adjust. 

DNA testing is also a way to know their sex.

If you wish to buy a King Pigeon, ask the previous owner if the pigeon laid eggs. It will also confirm the sex.

Related Read: Things To Know Before Buying Pigeons As Pets

Different Types And Varieties Of King Pigeons

The king pigeons are available in many colors and patterns. Usually, they are bred in solid and barred patterns. 

The different types are discussed here-

Solid Patterns

White

It is the most popular and most common color in Kings. They don’t have any other colored feathers on their entire body. 

They are pure white, with a pink beak, red cere, red and black bull eyes, and white toenails.

Yellow

This is such a beauty with an entire yellow frame, right from head to toe. 

The color is rich from feathers to the skin. They have bright orange eyes and legs with a horn-colored beak and red-eye cere, completed by horn-colored nails.

Red 

The rich and royal red color suits this proud bird perfectly. They have no foreign colors or ticking. 

An entirely red body with bright eyes and toes, horn-colored beach and toenails, and a red-eye cere.

Brown

The cocoa color suits the pigeon, as dark as dark chocolate. Their pearl-colored eyes will hook you, complimented by a horn-colored beak, same toenails, and red-eye cere.

Black

Black is a royal color, and it suits this King perfectly. 

The black color has a distinct sheen with a green luster near the neck and breast. The eyes are orange, black beak and toenails, and bright red eye cere.

Dun

The bird is dun, gun-metal with horn-colored toenails and beak, red eye cere, and sparkling orange eyes.

Barred Patterns

Blue-Barred

The neck of the blue-barred King is a bright blue with a metallic green luster adorning it. 

The wing coverts have V-shaped bars in black and blue. The tail also has a three-quarter inch-long bar, finished with a blue or white rump. 

The color is accompanied by a blue-colored body, bright, sparkling orange eyes,  black toenails, and beak, with a red-eye core as finishing touches to the beauty. 

Brown-Barred

The neck of the brown-barred king is a dark silver blue with a metallic green luster adorning it. 

The wing coverts have V-shaped bars in dark chocolate brown color. The tail also has a three-quarter inch long brown bar, finished with a silver or white rump. 

The color is accompanied by a silver blue-colored body, bright pearl eyes,  horn-colored toenails, and beak, with a red-eye core as finishing touches to the beauty. 

Ash Red Bar

The neck of the ash red-barred king is a rich red with a metallic green luster adorning it. The wing coverts have V-shaped bars in dark chestnut red color. 

The tail doesn’t have a bar, but black tickings on the wing flight and tail feathers, and is finished with an ash gray or white rump. 

A rich ash gray color covers the entire body, with bright, sparkling orange eyes,  horn-colored toenails, and beak, with the red-eye core as finishing touches to the beauty.

Silver-Barred

The neck of the silver-barred king is a dark silver gray with a metallic green luster adorning it. The wing coverts have V-shaped bars in dark dunes. 

The tail also has a three-quarter inch long dun bar, finished with a silver-gray or white rump. 

The color is accompanied by a silver gray-colored body, bright orange eyes,  horn-colored toenails, and beak, with a red-eye core as finishing touches to the beauty. 

Ash Yellow Bar

The neck of the silver-barred king is a bright yellow color with a metallic green luster adorning it. The wing coverts have V-shaped bars in yellow. 

The tail doesn’t have a tail bar but scattered dilute flecks on the wing flight, tail feathers, finished with a light-gray or white rump. 

The color is accompanied by a light gray-colored body, bright orange eyes,  horn-colored toenails, and beak, with a red-eye core as finishing touches to the beauty. 

These are the different color patterns you may find in the market. There are also some rare colors and varieties, but as they are rare, you may not find them in the open market so easily. 

They are mainly used for show purposes.

Breeding Science Of King Pigeons

First, the pigeon you see today has resulted from years of selective breeding. 

The different pigeons were brought from different countries to create a new pigeon breed. 

If you are interested in breeding king Pigeons, first ascertain whether it’s a hobby or a profession. 

As a hobby, it is fine if you experiment with two colors and it doesn’t come out as expected. You can pet them. But professionally, you count days of hatching, the breeding cycle, the growth of chicks, etc.

First, bring a male and a female bird. It is not easy to identify their sex easily, so confirm it before buying. Then you can provide them with a good nest. 

In a new environment, the pair needs to adjust and mate. Even if you see them mating, it may take longer than a week to lay eggs, as mating does not guarantee eggs. 

The breeding season also plays an important role here.

Once the eggs have been laid, the pigeons know what to do with them.

Related Read: Can pigeons see at night? | Do pigeons have night vision?

How Do King Pigeons Reproduce?

The pigeons choose their partner first. They reach sexual maturity in six months or so. 

The male nods his head for approval from the female for courting. The female spreads its wings in affirmation, and they become a pair, and you can see them feeding each other with their beaks. 

The female King lays two eggs, and it takes 18-19days to hatch. Both the male and female hatch the eggs and take care of the baby.   

How To Effectively Breed King Pigeons Successfully?

To successfully breed a pigeon, you need to provide it with the right environment. Some general tips to follow King pigeon successfully are-

  • Make them a loft. It will be the home to the new pair and their baby. Furnish it with soft paddings like leaves or grass. Do not spread cotton, as their toenails tangle in it.
  • Take your birds to the vet before breeding season, and get them vaccinated. New birds are prone to infection, spreading very fast from the mother to the baby.
  • Give them time and space for mating. If you have recently bought a pair, they may need time to get acquainted with the environment and ensure that the place is safe for laying eggs.
  • If you have more than one pair, make separate homes. Also, keep the bachelor ones in a separate loft.
  • You can also make them an aviary or fly pen if you have extra space. It gives them the much-required freedom.
  • Food is the basic necessity, but contamination-free food and water are the basic necessities for pigeons. Keep them fresh food and water every time. Do Wash their bowels regularly.

How Many Eggs Do King Pigeons Lay?

King Pigeons also lay two eggs in one breeding season like other pigeons. Their incubation period lasts for 2-3 weeks at the most.

King PIgeon Lifespan

The lifespan of a king pigeon is 14-15 years generally. Some pigeons also live for up to years if properly kept. It is higher than the general average of the pigeon species.

Can King Pigeons Fly?

King pigeons can fly, but their flight is not very impressive. Due to their heavyweight, they cannot fly over 15 feet. 

The backyard of a home is fine for their flying. This is why they are prone to attacks, but large size often discourages predators.

Related Read: Do pigeons fly at night?

How Big Do King Pigeons Get?

The average weight of a King pigeon is 30-37 oz. Their average parameters are-

  • Height– Between 11-12 inches.
  • Width– Chest extremity approx. 5 and a half inches.
  • Depth– 4 and a half inches is ideal.
  • Length– Tail to chest 9 and a half-inch.

These measurements are quite bigger than other breeds.

Are King Pigeons Aggressive? Can You Keep Them As Pets? 

No, king pigeons are very calm, peaceful, and not aggressive at all. They are very social birds who live on farms and as pets. 

As humans breed them for years, they have developed a kinship with humans and don’t harm them. However, they know how to protect themselves. So, if you bother them, they know how to peck. 

Mother hens are very possessive about their babies and eggs. Even if they are your pet, they may not like your intrusion when the couple is enjoying the time with their happy little family.

They make excellent pets as well. They have been domesticated for years. Since breeding them and eating them was the purpose, they could not live in the wild. They are to be kept as pets.   

Related Read: How To Cope With The Loss Of My Pet Bird

What Do King PIgeons Eat?

King pigeons eat what other pigeons eat. They are herbivores and feed on nuts, grains, fresh veggies, fruits, mustard, sunflower seeds, maize, wheat, etc. 

To keep a bird healthy, you must focus on its diet. It should be full of essential nutrients like protein and vitamins.

King Pigeon Meat

The King pigeon was also called a utility breed because it was bred for meat. Its meat is edible. 

In the earlier years, people traded eggs and meat like chicken meat. Even today, people breed it, though more for ornamental purposes.

Are King Pigeons Smart?

Yes, King pigeons are a very intelligent breed. They are beautiful, calm, gentle, and perfect for show purposes. 

Conclusion

This comprehensive guide is a small step to include every important detail about the king pigeon. 

Whether you are a curious reader, a pigeon breeder, or a bird lover, it will serve your purposes. You will find all the relevant data about their diet, reproduction, characteristics, identity, different colors, and much more info. 

If you are wondering about keeping it as a pet, it is a low-maintenance, excellent breed to pet. 

This breed will make you a winner if you are a pigeon-show enthusiast. 

If you want to feel how a pigeon’s meat tastes, then you can also choose the king.

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