A fancy pigeon is a bird that has been domestically bred to achieve a particular size and color. The fancy pigeon is a descendent of the rock pigeon and rock dove. Most fancy pigeons are white, with variations of brown, tan, gray, and black. Some fancy pigeons are known as fantails, dragoons, and helmets, although there are several varieties of this pigeon. Many owners of these domestic animals obtain them from breeders and enter them in bird shows.
If obtained from a domestic breeder, a fancy pigeon should be free of disease. These are generally hardy birds with a lifespan of approximately 10-15 years. If domestically kept, the fancy pigeon's diet should consist of a quality mix containing grains and grit. Grit contains traces of calcium, which is essential for an egg-laying hen. Fresh fruits and vegetables may be added to a fancy pigeon's diet as well.
Most avian specialists believe the fancy pigeon can see a broad spectrum of colors, just as humans do. This bird is believed to have excellent vision and the ability to see ultraviolet light. The extraordinary eyesight of pigeons enables them to see for up to 25 miles (40 km). These birds have exceptional hearing as well. Eye color of adult fancy pigeons will typically be orange or red. Baby and juvenile birds generally have brown eyes.
The fancy pigeon may be found at livestock shows and fairs, often to be sold or traded. Owners of these exotic birds often keep them as a hobby. Some fancy pigeons are also used as homing or carrier pigeons. Many owners also use their birds to compete in pigeon racing. These birds generally can fly great distances and stay in the air for hours.
All breeds of pigeons generally mate for life. If a pigeon's mate dies however, it may choose another pigeon to mate with. The female will generally lay two eggs, with the incubation period being anywhere from 16 to 20 days. In the wild, pigeons will feed their babies from their own crop milk, however, breeders may hand-feed baby pigeons to ensure they become accustomed to human handling.
Show-quality birds like the fancy pigeon may be purchased from breeders online. They are generally sold and shipped when they are old enough to be fully weaned. A reputable bird breeder will ensure his birds are banded. This means there will be a closed band around the bird's leg with a unique number and location, identifying the bird.