Chicken-pigeon Hybrids

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EUGENE M. MCCARTHY, PHD GENETICS

     
chicken-pigeon hybrid
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Above: An ostensible pigeon-chicken hybrid recently produced in China (2017)

Note: It has been my policy in listing reports of hybrids to include all serious allegations, especially those of scholars, whether or not the hybrid alleged seems possible or likely to me. This policy, I think, helps to eliminate subjective judgment on my part, and therefore should remove at least one source of systematic bias from my work. It also helps to fulfill the ethical obligation of telling not just the truth, but the whole truth.

Note: This cross, which would be interordinal (Galliformes × Columbiformes), requires additional confirmation.

Videos exist on YouTube showing birds that appear to be chicken-pigeon composites (example). Thus, the bird at right is reported as having been produced in China in 2017. In general, these animals have the heads of pigeons, but the body of a chicken.

Those who believe that such a hybrid would be impossibly distant assert that such birds are merely a chicken-like breed of pigeon and not hybrids at all. However, people often forget that many existing breeds of both birds and mammals are known to have been produced via hybrid crosses, the beefalo (from bison × cattle) and the red-factor canary (Serinus domesticus x Carduelis cucullata) being prominent examples. So the mere fact that they have been described as breeds (e.g., Modena breed, or Banat Chicken Pigeon breed) does not preclude the possibility that these birds had a hybrid origin.

Giambattista della Porta Della Porta
(1535?-1615)

Indeed, there are old accounts of breeders producing pigeon-chicken hybrids, which would explain how the various breeds that look like pigeon-chicken hybrids were first developed. Thus, in explaining how to produce various avian crosses, the Neapolitan scholar, polymath and playwright Giambattista della Porta (1658, p. 45), who spent the larger portion of his life on scientific endeavors, claimed to have produced pigeon-chicken hybrids and gives his readers instructions for how to do the same themselves:

A Chick gendred of a Pigeon and a Hen: The pigeon must be young, for then he hath more heat and desire of copulation and more abundance of seed. For if he be old, he cannot tread. But young Pigeons do couple at all times, and they bring forth both Summer and Winter. I had myself at home a single Pigeon & a Hen that had lost her Cock. The Pigeon was of a large size, and wanton withal. The hen was but a very small one. These lived together, and in the Spring-time the pigeon trode the Hen, whereby she conceived, and in her due season laid egges, and afterward hatched them, and brought forth chickens that were mixt of either kind, and resembled the shape of both. In greatnesse of body, in fashion of head and bill, they were like a Pigeon. Their feathers very white and curled, their feet like a Hen’s feet, but they were overgrown with feathers, and they made a noise like a Pigeon. And I took great pleasure in them, the rather, because they were so familiar, that they would sit upon the bed, or nuzzle into some woman’s bosom.

So the direction of this cross would be male pigeon x hen. It should perhaps be pointed out that, if these breeds were in fact developed from such hybrids, then at least some of F1 hybrids initially produced from this interordinal cross must have been capable of producing offspring. And, like most hybrids that are able reproduce themselves and that eventually become breeds, their origins tend to be forgotten, because there is not the sterility, as in the common mule, that lingers on to remind us.

The incubation time of a pigeon egg is about 17 days, that of a chicken’s, 21.

Another avian interordinal cross >>

Bibliography >>

Internet citations >>

Online Biology Dictionary >>

Chicken-pigeon Hybrids - © Macroevolution.net

By the same author: Handbook of Avian Hybrids of the World, Oxford University Press (2006).


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