Hailed as the ‘winged rat’ of urban cities, pigeons are some of the most intelligent birds that we find around themselves.
Be it the ordinary, mundane variety or the ornamental ones, we are used to identifying pigeons by their particular looks.
However, a variety of pigeons, the Maltese pigeon grabs eyeballs due to its strikingly different appearance. Here, we share all that we know about it.
What is a Maltese Pigeon? How to Identify?
Hailed as the sexiest pigeon of all time, the Maltese pigeon is radically different from all pigeons.
The bird belongs to the group of four pigeons or the hen group. It was first developed by selective breeding in Southern Germany and Australia.
The bird is identified by its Banat Chicken-like appearance. It’s short and hard is so compact that it resembles a cubiform. However, its body weight is not too heavy, and it looks pretty elegant and graceful.
It stands tall on its long straight legs and a long slender neck. It generally holds its head high. When driving, the bird throws its head backward such that it almost reaches its tail.
Overall, the pigeon stands about fifteen or more inches in height.
Where Are Maltese Pigeons From? Its History and Origin
The Maltese pigeon is also popularly called Poule Maltais, Malteser, etc.
Given its name, a common assumption is that the bird originated in the Mediterranean island of Malta. But the bird is not related to it in any manner.
On the contrary, this pigeon breed’s first development started in Austria in the 1800s. The area became a part of Germany in 1850.
The bird was developed as a cross-breeding of the French Bagdad pigeon and a German variety. The bird has been evolving ever since.
Appearance, Characteristics, and Behavior
As stated, the Maltese pigeon bears a close resemblance to Banat chicken in appearance. A few of its unique appearance and characteristics are:
The head of the pigeon is long and carried high with a slight arch. With a narrow forehead; its width is almost the same as the neck.
The eyes of the pigeon are deep-set. The bird is available in all colors. All have orange eyes except for the white Maltese pigeon, which has bull-colored eyes.
Related Read: Are White Pigeons Rare? | How rare are they
The cere of the white varieties is red, black and blue variety is damson. In contrast, the red, Yellow, dun and silver-colored pigeons have a flesh-colored cere. Moreover, these birds have very discrete eyelids.
The pigeon has a medium-length and stout beak whose upper part is slightly bent. The beak is usually flesh-colored except for the black and blue varieties, which flaunt a black beak. The wattle is smooth and powder white.
The neck of the Maltese pigeon is very long and slender, like that of a goose. Its thickness remains uniform and similar to the head, and a change happens only near the shoulder. The pigeon carries its neck pretty straight.
Compared to the overall appearance, the breast of the Maltese pigeon is relatively broad and is carried high to reveal a good depth of keel.
The belly is round and short, while the rump is well-developed and feathered. Overall, the body impression is cubed instead of long and cylindrical.
The back of the pigeon is short and moderately broad. It is almost horizontal and has a slight elevation only at the rump.
The Maltese pigeon has short and closely fitted plumage.
In sync with the plumage, these pigeons have wings with very short flight feathers that meet at the center of the tail with slight crossing.
The feathers lie close and are carried well up. The wing butts are prominent and project slightly outwards at the breast.
The legs are straight, long, and highly visible. The thighs are powerful and closely feathered. Legs below the hock are free of feathers, joints are straight, and the toes are long and set well apart.
Maltese pigeons are seen in a wide variety of colors. The most popular colors spotted are black, white, red, brown, blue-hammered black, hammered brown, silver, dun, grizzles, blue with black rods, etc. All the colors are clear and intense.
What are Maltese Pigeons Good For?
The development of the Maltese pigeon was initially as a Utility pigeon alias broiler pigeon by the countryside ranchers. However, as its presence expanded to Europe and other continents, it started developing.
Finally, it emerged as a display pigeon for various exhibitions and display shows. They also make great pets because of their amicable behavior.
Can Maltese Pigeons Fly?
Maltese pigeons are not excellent fliers. Like chickens, they have less plumage and lack an aerodynamic shape. They also have less and short plumage. At the most, they can just fly across the loft.
Are Maltese Pigeons Natural?
As discussed, Maltese pigeons are not natural but developed over years through cross-breeding and selective breeding.
How to Raise and Take Care of Maltese Pigeon? (Care and Maintenance)
Raising and taking care of the Maltese pigeon is just like any other pigeon, except that it requires less space as it cannot fly. Its space and ambiance should also be kept clean and safe from predators. They can easily be housed in a loft or large cage.
Maltese Pigeon Food/ What do Maltese Pigeons Eat?
The Maltese pigeon diet is similar to any other pigeons or doves. Therefore, they need the traditional seed and grain-based diet.
When left in the wild; they eat green leaves, seeds, berries, fruits, shoots, etc. On rare occasions, they can also be seen feeding on small insects like spiders, ants, etc.
As pets, you can feed them seeds, grains, and commercially prepared mixes and supplements, meant for pigeons.
As for treats, Maltese pigeons love to binge on apples, berries, pear, lettuce, clover, and chickweed.
Maltese Pigeons as Pets
Because of their gentle behavior, Maltese pigeons make great pets.
Maltese Pigeon Lifespan/ How Long Do Maltese Pigeons Live?
The lifespan of the Maltese pigeon is similar to that of any fancy or regular pigeon. It can live up to three to five years in the wild and up to fifteen years when domesticated as pets or show birds.
How many Eggs Do Maltese Pigeons Lay?
The Maltese pigeon lays two eggs in one breeding season like other pigeons
Fun Fact About Maltese Pigeons
Finally, we share an interesting snippet about Maltese pigeons. Their extraordinary aesthetics and beauty had won them a moment of glory on social media as well.
In March 2021, a video was uploaded on TikTok which showcased the bird’s distinctive long legs. As a result, the bird was hailed as the supermodel of the pigeon world.
In an incredibly short span of time, the video procured 2.7 million views and spawned numerous memes.
We hope you enjoyed learning about the Maltese pigeon in this comprehensive guide.
They make excellent pets as well as exhibition birds and are an exciting variety to cross-breed and develop new varieties of pigeons. They stand out amongst the crowd as a class apart.