Italian Owl Pigeon: Breed Guide

The Italian Owl pigeon is a small fancy pigeon originating in Italy as a  result of many years of selective breeding.

Origins of the Italian Owl Pigeon

As implied by the name, the origins of the Italian Owl pigeon can be traced back to Northern Italy to selective breeding over several years to produce an exhibition bird.

The exact dates for the progression of the breed are unknown but it is certainly more than a century old.

It is known to have been imported into Germany in 1880 and several different specimens were exhibited by Italian representatives at the World’s Poultry Congress in Cleveland, Ohio in 1939.

Italian Owl Pigeon Distribution And Habitat

Information regarding how many Italian Owl Pigeons there are is practically non-existent.

There are specific fancier/owner clubs in the USA, Italy and Germany, but how many breeders, owners and number of birds is unknown.

italian owl pigeon body

As primarily a show bird, you will not typically find an Italian Owl pigeon out in the wild.

They simply do not have what it takes to be able to survive and thrive in the wild.

If you ever see an Italian Owl outside a domestic setting, the chances are that it has been improperly released or is lost.

Italian Owl Pigeon Appearance

This pigeon is classed both as an owl pigeon and a frill pigeon.

In general comparative terms, the Italian Owl pigeon is one of the smaller breeds.

As an exhibition breed, it is easy to describe its appearance because breeders and owners will usually look to achieve the breed standards by which it is judged.

The bird should be small with a compact body on quite long legs that are clean of feathers. It should have a proud, graceful carriage.

italian owl pigeon appearance

It has a rounded, broad breast that displays a small but prominent full chest frill.

The head of the Italian Owl pigeon is small and broad being fairly flat at the top of the skull.

Its eyes are comparatively large and are orange in most birds, but whites and pied versions have bull eyes.

The cere matches the main plumage colour and its beak is of medium length matching plumage colour and with a smallish wattle.

Ice bar and Ice check Italian Owl Pigeons have more specific features namely, their eyes should be plum-blue to blue-grey and their beaks black.

The tail of the Italian Owl pigeon is on the short side with close-fitting feathers.

The Italian Owl breed has many different colour and pattern varieties, with some of the most common including:

  • Blue
  • Red
  • Silver
  • Yellow
  • Gold
  • Patterns include grizzle, almond, Andalusian and indigo.

The ice colours – especially blue –  are highly prized.

You can expect an average mature Italian owl pigeon to weigh in the region of 280 to 320 grams (10-12 oz).

Although quite similar to the German Owl Pigeon, the Italian breed generally has longer legs and lacks the crest of the German.

Typical Character of the Italian Owl Pigeon

One of the best adjectives you can use to describe an Italian Owl pigeon is perky!

They are an energetic, alert breed that, due to standing high up on their toes, always give the appearance that they are about to spring into action.

italian owl pigeon head

They are hardy and active and without any common behavioural issues, Italian Owl pigeons have long been regarded as a great ‘starter’ bird for young enthusiasts and beginners.

They are very laid back and simple to raise as pets when all the right advice is followed.

They are a flying breed that is very adept when in the air, and the talent that Italian Owl pigeons have in-flight means that they are very commonly used by their owners for exhibition purposes.

Italian Owl Pigeon Diet

Italian Owls follow in the habits of plenty of other dove and pigeon breeds by enjoying a diet that is heavily grain and seed-based.

The usual, healthy diet of an Italian Owl should contain a variety of grains, seeds, greens, berries and fruits.

They will eat the occasional insect that wanders in their path, but they aren’t a favourite treat.

Mating And Breeding of Italian Owl Pigeons

The breeding of Italian Owl pigeons is very much controlled by the fancier. Breeders will look to enhance the features that are determined best by the standard.

As for mating and parentage, it is pretty much standard pigeon behaviour.

They are decent parents, looking after a couple of chicks each clutch and laying up to four times a year.

How to Take Care of Italian Owl Pigeon

The care of an Italian Owl pigeon is similar to the care of most other kinds of doves and pigeons of a similar size.

Their prowess at flying means that they need to be provided with plenty of space and access to the outdoors and their homing instincts will keep them from straying away and becoming lost.

Give them plenty of perches, as well as a nice, covered ground area for when they decide to get low on the floor.

Denise Bereford

Denise Bereford is a full-time writer and researcher with a long-standing passion for pigeons.

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