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Sport 42: 2014


page 59


Now what I want to know is at what age nestling pigeons have their tail feathers sufficiently developed to be counted? I do not think I ever saw a young pigeon. I should be very glad to have a nestling pigeon sent, for I mean to make skeletons. I have done the black deed and murdered an angelic little fantail and pouter at ten days old . . . lumps of cyanide of potassium in a very large damp bottle, half an hour before putting in the pigeon. I have found my careful work at pigeons really invaluable . . . can trace the gradual changes in the breeds of pigeons. I have just had pigeons and fowls ALIVE from the Gambia! Also a large mass of parallel facts in the breeds of pigeons about the wing bars. I SUSPECT it will throw light on. . . a gin palace in the Borough amongst a set of pigeon fanciers. Do you consider that the successive variations in the size of the crop of the Pouter Pigeon, which man has accumulated to please his caprice, have been due to . . . it seems preposterous that a maker of a universe should care about the crop of a pigeon solely to please man’s silly fancies. Dorsal vertebrae of pigeons vary in number, and dispute the fact . . . that an improved Short-horn, or improved Pouter-pigeon, should be produced by accumulative variation. And you might thus prove that the duck or pigeon has not varied because the goose has not, though . . . selecting individual differences in the nasal bones of pigeons, I must think that it is illogical to suppose that . . . that man has made his improved shorthorns, or pouter pigeons, or bantams . . . [quite unreadable] . . . who tried to explain the variation of pigeons! Whatever holds good in the formation of a pouter pigeon holds good in the formation of a natural species of pigeon. I cannot see that this is false . . .