The Tiger Swallow Pigeon: Breed Guide

In Europe the Tiger Swallow Pigeon is also known as the Bohemian Fairy Swallow.

tiger swallow pigeon by Jom Gifford
Photo by Jim Gifford

It is one of the fancy pigeons used primarily for exhibition.

Tiger Swallow Pigeon Origins

The Bohemian Fairy Swallow, unsurprisingly given the name, originated in Bohemia in Eastern Europe, an area which today is in the Czech Republic.

Some pigeon fanciers believe that the Bohemian swallow was really from Silesia or Thuringia (now parts of Germany), and others favor Saxony which is why some are named Saxon fairy swallow.

The boundaries of these nation-states were continually changing throughout history, so it is impossible to pinpoint where these types of pigeons actually came from.

Variations continue to be produced, especially in the USA where cross-breeding is common.

One US breeder bred tiger swallow pigeons from a Dresden Trumpeter and a barless swallow.

Tiger Swallow Pigeon Appearance

All these birds that have the ‘swallow’ tag have the same basic characteristics, whatever they are called. They have wings that are shaped like those of a swallow.

The ‘muffed’ variety as opposed to the ‘clean legged’ has a thick fan of feathers sprouting from each leg that covers their feet. They are considered small to medium in size.

tiger swallow pigeon by Jom Gifford
Photo by Jim Gifford

The front of their heads is smooth, but an abundance of small feathers along the back of the neck and head form a kind of crest. Their upper beak is dark and the lower is lighter colored.

There are two colour variations, black and red.

The main torso remains white, the wings, feet muffs, and a spot in the centre of their foreheads are coloured.

Tiger Stripes

Their wings have a striped appearance when opened where colored and white feathers alternate – hence the tiger tag.

The pattern is best seen when the wing feathers are splayed, or the bird is in flight.

The contrast between the striped wings and the white body is very striking.

Breeding The Stripes

Unlike many cross-breeding where certain characteristics of one bird become more pronounced or genes combine to produce a different feature not common in either bird, there is more human intervention in the breeding of tiger swallows.

The look isn’t natural.

Originally these swallow pigeons had more solid coloured wings.

There is some debate as to the hows and whys but, the striped coloring is “forced”, or we might say, man-made!

It can be produced by plucking alternate colored wing feathers to produce white feathers.

Plucking causes the replacement feathers to grow back as white because the pigeon’s bodies can’t reproduce enough melanin which is essential for coloration.

Some argue that the cross breeds have a gene that affects melanin production.

The process of producing white feathers is easy or difficult depending on the original color of the plumage. Yellow is the easiest to make white and blue is the hardest.

Current tiger swallows are at the point in their development (and forced breeding) where a feather only needs to be plucked twice to make a white replacement.


Although mainly raised as show or exhibition birds, they are said to make very good pets as they are calm and gentle.

Compared to other pigeons, their flying abilities are considered average.

Anyone into exhibition birds would do well to consider buying or breeding these very attractive-looking pigeons.


Dan has been fascinated with pigeons since his youth when he used to feed them breadcrumbs at the local park. With a background in SEO Dan noticed a few years ago that there were very few websites around dedicated to his favorite bird so he set out to change that by starting Pigeonpedia.

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