2023 Grateful 10: A chicken stole my heart

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.

White rabbit with big black ears and a back circle around its eye chewing on someone green, sitting in a cage on a bed of straw. It's left eye is staring straight at the camera.

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.

A pigeon. A bird with green plumage on its yead and a pinky purle breast with a grey body. Its eyes are circle in pink lumps - like coral. Same on the beak.

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. A collage of 4 pictures. 1. A bird with fat brown feathers and a white head and tail - looks like it's in a fur coat. 2. A white bird with black and white feathers and a white collar around the back of its head - looks like it's wearing a cape with the collar turned up. 3. A white bird with brown and white curly feathers - like if you got a cheese grater and grated some chocolate curls. 4. A white bird with a fantail - in a cage - with two more cages behind it with the same type of bird


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.

A collage of four photos 1. A really chubby grey feathered bird with a small head in a cage with birdseed on the floor 2 a white bird with a back headpiece - like they're wearing a short opera cape with the collar turned up. Side profile. The bright orange beak stands out. The feet are covered in long feathers, fanned out. 3. A black and green metallic looking bird with the white head peeping out from the coat. It too has feathers covering its toes. 4. An elegant white bird - tall - with a ruffled neck and an orange beak.

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.

A collage of four photos 1. A bird with green, grey, and purple plumage looks backwards to another bird in the next cage 2. Two birds talking through the cage. One on the right is black with an orange beak. One of the left has a black body with a ruffled black and white neck. 3. Two decorative birds in green perched on a swing looking to their left. 4 a multicolored cockeral - black, white, cream brown feathers. With a red bead and a five-point red crown.

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).

A white furry bird with a black beak - looks like rabbit fur but it's a chicken

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.




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