Last updated

The tippler is a breed of domestic pigeon bred to participate in endurance competitions. Flying results of up to 22 hours (non-stop) have been reported. [1]



J. Bodens Bodens.gif
J. Bodens

The pigeon evolved from the rock pigeon (Columba livia) that is endemic to the region between the Mediterranean and China. Some pigeon breeds are believed to have originated from the Middle East, although the origin of the tippler is uncertain. The predominant theory is that the tippler was a cross breed, between the homing pigeon (Indian Highflyers/Tumblers) and the cumulet. This cross-breeding was thought to improve the bird's endurance and allow a larger flight range. It is proposed that selection for this long-term flying ability helped to eliminate its progenitor's tumbling flight behavior. The breed is believed to have originated in 1845, near the silk milling towns of Congleton and Macclesfield in East Cheshire, England. The breeder's aim was to perfect the "butterfly action" of the wings. The ease and grace of the wings enabled the tippler to attain its long flight duration. Levi, in The Pigeon, cites a reference from Hepworth (1893) who interviewed W. Jolly of Mill Green, who claimed that he had been breeding tipplers for fifty-six years. That would take the origin back to at least 1837. Levi also commented that the breed was developed around the towns of Rainow and Macclesfield. It further mentions, "Macclesfield tipplers", as a strain or type of tippler and that they were named after the region in which they were developed.


Tippler "types" were named after their breeders or their original location. Most of these types can stay aloft for over 19 hours.[ citation needed ]

"Hughes" were bred by Gordon Hughes in Derby, with a flying record of 18:07 in 1976.[ citation needed ]

"Sam Billingham", Arthur Newton, Joe Davies, and Jack Holland were also among England's top breeders.[ citation needed ]

Other popular types include "Lovatt", "Merredith", Shannon (also known as Irish Delight) and Sheffield (usually colored red and yellow).[ citation needed ]

Wilf Lovatt, 20:00, 1963 Lovatt-1963.jpg
Wilf Lovatt, 20:00, 1963


Tipplers are intelligent birds and can be trained to fly long hours and drop only when asked. [2]

Eric Anslow, 21:21 in 1994 Eanslow-21.jpg
Eric Anslow, 21:21 in 1994

Competitions and flying rules

The homing pigeon flies to race home, the Roller pigeon flies to roll, but the tippler just flies. Tippler fanciers can compete anywhere in the world without traveling. A "kit" of tipplers consists of three or more birds. Each tippler club has defined flying rules. Generally, the aim is for the whole kit to fly as long as possible. When one lands, or if the fancier gives the landing sign, the competition ends. Usually, the birds must be seen every hour by the referee to make sure that they are indeed flying. Most clubs base their flying rules on the "NTU flying rules". [3]

Gordon Hughes in his loft. Gordonhughesloft.jpg
Gordon Hughes in his loft.

The two categories of competition are young birds and old birds. A young bird is one hatched during the current year that bears a seamless band issued for that year. Any other bird is regarded as an old bird, regardless of its actual age. The first old bird race is usually about the middle of April, with others at two week intervals. The most important competition occupies the so-called Long Day. The longest (weekend) day of the year.

In Pakistan many fanciers and associations organize endurance competitions. In the Rawalpindi-Islamabad area, the All Pakistan Pigeons Lovers Association organizes two competitions one in September or October and one in May. Each fancier comes with a team of seven to eleven birds. In May, the competition starts at 4:50 am when the temperature gets up to 45 degrees[ clarification needed ]. The total time scored by each team is calculated at the end and prizes are awarded. These competitions are not only a source of amusement but also an opportunity for social interaction.

International records

Top 7 Old Birds
Record (h)FancierPlaceYear
22:05H. Shannon Northern Ireland, Lisburn 1995
21:21E. Anslow England, Tipton 1994 [4]


Northern Ireland, Lisburn 2019


Northern Ireland, Lisburn 2019


Northern Ireland, Lisburn 2018
21:11H. Shannon Ireland, Lisburn 1995
21:10H. Coulter Ireland, Ulster 1992
21:00J Lamb Ireland, Crumlin 2001
Top 6 Young Birds
Record (h)FancierPlaceYear
19:44J. Fee

Ireland, Belfast 2023

19:40H. Shannon Ireland, Lisburn 1993
19:34Plester England, Birmingham 1990
19:19Shannon Ireland, Lisburn 1990
19:16Shannon Ireland, Lisburn 1994
19:16Brown England, Gladless 1986


See also

Related Research Articles

There are at least four main types of competitive pigeon sport:

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Homing pigeon</span> Pigeons bred to find their way home

The homing pigeon, also called the mail pigeon or messenger pigeon, is a variety of domestic pigeons derived from the wild rock dove, selectively bred for its ability to find its way home over extremely long distances. The rock dove has an innate homing ability, meaning that it will generally return to its nest using magnetoreception. Flights as long as 1,800 km have been recorded by birds in competitive pigeon racing. Their average flying speed over moderate 965 km distances is around 97 km/h and speeds of up to 160 km/h have been observed in top racers for short distances.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Pigeon racing</span> Competition sport in which trained pigeons have to fly home as fast as possible

Pigeon racing is the sport of releasing specially trained homing pigeons, which then return to their homes over a carefully measured distance. The time it takes the animal to cover the specified distance is measured and the bird's rate of travel is calculated and compared with all of the other pigeons in the race to determine which animal returned at the highest speed.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">War pigeon</span> Homing pigeons in military service

Homing pigeons have long played an important role in war. Due to their homing ability, speed, and altitude, they were often used as military messengers. Carrier pigeons of the Racing Homer breed were used to carry messages in World War I and World War II, and 32 such pigeons were presented with the Dickin Medal. Medals such as the Croix de Guerre, awarded to Cher Ami, and the Dickin Medal awarded to the pigeons G.I. Joe and Paddy, amongst 32 others, have been awarded to pigeons for their services in saving human lives.

Fancy pigeon refers to any breed of domestic pigeon, which is a domesticated form of the wild rock dove. They are bred by pigeon fanciers for various traits relating to size, shape, color, and behavior, and often exhibited at pigeon shows, fairs and other livestock exhibits.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Fantail pigeon</span> Breed of pigeon

The Fantail is a popular breed of fancy pigeon. It is characterised by a fan-shaped tail composed of 30 to 40 feathers, abnormally more than most members of the dove and pigeon family, which usually have 12 to 14 tail feathers. The breed is thought to have originated in Pakistan, India, China, Japan or Spain. There are several subvarieties, such as the English Fantail, the Indian Fantail, and the Thai Fantail. Charles Darwin used it as one of the examples in the first chapter of his book On the Origin of Species. He believed it was a descendant of the rock dove.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Domestic pigeon</span> Small domesticated bird

The domestic pigeon or city dove is a pigeon subspecies that was derived from the rock dove. The rock pigeon is the world's oldest domesticated bird. Mesopotamian cuneiform tablets mention the domestication of pigeons more than 5,000 years ago, as do Egyptian hieroglyphics. Research suggests that domestication of pigeons occurred as early as 10,000 years ago.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Pigeon keeping</span> Animal husbandry of domestic pigeons

Pigeon keeping or pigeon fancying is the art and science of breeding domestic pigeons. People have practiced pigeon keeping for at least 5,000 years and in almost every part of the world. In that time, humans have substantially altered the morphology and the behaviour of the domesticated descendants of the rock dove to suit their needs for food, aesthetic satisfaction and entertainment.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Galatz Roller</span> Breed of pigeon

The Galatz Roller or Galați Roller is a domesticated pigeon breed originating in Galați County, Romania. Because these pigeons perform air acrobatics when they fly, they became very popular among pigeon fanciers in both the country of origin and the rest of Europe, especially in Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium. The air acrobatics that these Galați Roller birds perform are comparable to those of the Oriental Roller and Birmingham Roller pigeons.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Release dove</span> Dove bred for release at an event

A release dove is usually a small white domestic rock dove used for events such as public ceremonies, weddings and funerals. They typically have a symbolic meaning for the event.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Birmingham Roller</span> Breed of pigeon

The Birmingham Roller is a breed of domesticated roller pigeon that originated in Birmingham, England. They were developed via selective breeding, for their ability to do rapid backward somersaults while flying.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">American Show Racer</span> Breed of pigeon

The American Show Racer pigeon is a breed of domestic pigeon that began in the early 1950s with the finest Racing Homers, selectively bred for their breed type. Pigeon historian Wendell Levi mentions Show Pen Racers in his book The Pigeon. He describes the early development of the breed in the United States and early breeders of the variety. In 1952, The American Show Pen Racer Club was formed at the National Show held in Des Moines, Iowa.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Iranian Highflying Tumbler</span> Breed of pigeon

The Iranian Highflying Tumbler pigeon also known as "Persian Highflying Tumbler" in Europe and "Tehrani" in Iran is a breed of domestic pigeon bred in Iran for performance and endurance flying competitions. They fly at a very high altitude and at times out of sight. The tumbling is nothing like a Birmingham Roller, individual flips, occasionally hovering before it does the flip.

The Kyiv Tumbler is a breed of fancy pigeon.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Flying/Sporting pigeons</span> Group of pigeon breeds

Flying/Sporting is the name of one of three main groupings of breeds of domesticated pigeons used by pigeon fanciers in the United States. The other two are Fancy and Utility.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Nun pigeon</span> Breed of pigeon

The Nun is a breed of fancy pigeon developed through many years of selective breeding. It was known as the Dutch Shell Pigeon in continental Europe. Nuns, along with other varieties of domesticated pigeons, are all descendants from the rock pigeon . The Nun is one of the oldest breeds and was originally a flying tumbler before being developed for exhibition. It is a mostly white breed, with a hood of feathers, which gives the name to the breed.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Serbian Highflyer</span> Breed of pigeon

The Serbian Highflyer is a breed of domestic pigeon that is bred for endurance flying. The breed is characterized by long circle flights up to 15 hours. It can fly as high as 1,500 metres (4,900 ft). There are about 20,000 fanciers of this breed in Serbia.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Animal fancy</span> Hobby regarding pets or domestic animals

Animal fancy is a hobby involving the appreciation, promotion, or breeding of pet or domestic animals.

The Madrasi Highflyer also known as Thavdal is a breed of performance pigeon developed over centuries for endurance flying. Thavdal, along with other breeds of domesticated pigeons are all descendants of the rock dove.


  1. "Tipplers | Beauty of Birds". 16 September 2021.
  2. Thirty-Six Stages for the Flying Tippler Novice.
  3. "NTU flying rules".
  4. "Internationale Records". Nederlandse Vliegtippler Club. Retrieved 16 July 2016.