People who rear pigeons are known as pigeon fanciers. And while I quite fancy the more exotic pigeon, I doubt I’d ever be a fancier myself though I am tempted. Once a year. When the village hosts the annual Galamb-Díszmadár és Aprójószág kiállítás. Disparaged as sky rats or perch peckers, pigeons are much maligned. But the common statue-pooping variety is flights away from the posh pigeons I saw this weekend.
I’ve been looking forward to this all month, ever since the billboard first went up outside the kultúrház. It says a lot for what passes for excitement in my life these days. It’s all about simplicity.
The cars started arriving on Friday, as fanciers from the surrounding villages brought in their pigeons, ornamental birds, and small animals.
The budgies and such were cute and colourful. The guinea pigs, hampsters, and rabbits had a certain charm. The cockerels and chucks were not your common garden variety either. But I was all about the pigeons. At first.
I found a couple of new ones this year, like the dudoros postagalamb. In reading up on the bumpy postal pigeon, I discovered that pigeon breeding is like élő szobrászat – a living sculpture. The fanciers mix and match and pick the best of what they like and go from there. And they’ve been doing this long before genetic engineering was ever heard of.
Some of these birds have attitude, especially the Buga pigeons. Fur coats came to mind. I found myself looking for the handbag among these brown feathers. The one with the frilly feathers – the fodros – was gorgeous. From what I read, they’re somewhat endangered, something to do with German breeders not recognising national varieties ?!? There’s hope that the Hungarian frilled pigeon will make a comeback. And the páva, the fantails, they look like they should come with a hand mirror. I half expected her to pull out her compact and start putting on her lipstick.
Some of the varieties seemed way too chubby to ever take flight. I should have paid more attention to the names I know. Seeing this chubby chap (I suspect it might be a Modena) had me wondering if pigeons are bred for the table. The Hungarian csirkegalamb (chicken pigeon) – and no, I don’t think I saw one of those – once fed to patients, was known for its healing properties. And there is a growing market for pigeon meat. Note, though, that this doesn’t include the pigeons that hang around the train station.
Many of the Hungarian pigeon breeds are local, bred in a particular part of the country, or perhaps originating from a particular town or city. It’s fascinating.
And while I was all for the pigeons initially, it was a chicken that stole my heart – the selyemtyúk. The Silkie is unlike other chickens:
They owe their special appearance to the fact that, unlike other types of chickens, their feathers are not held together by tiny pincers, so they cover their bodies freely and unorganized.
And they have five toes whereas most chickens have only four (store that fact for your next table quiz).
Were I ever to have the time and headspace to get into birds, I’d be all about the Silkies. And the Bugas. And maybe the fodoros.
I’m grateful for exhibitions like this and for everything the village does to make life more interesting. It’s a lovely part of the world to call home.