Why Do Tumbler Pigeons Tumble?

Tumbler pigeons tumble because it is a genetic trait.

It is thought that some pigeons developed tumbling in the wild as a survival mechanism to avoid birds of prey.

This ability has been passed down to later generations from those breeds that first used it.

Tumbler Trait Breeding

Unfortunately, down through the years, many pigeon breeders have seized on this trait and have bred pairs to exhibit in pigeon shows and other types of exhibitions.

In many cases, this ability has been so inbred in some breeds that it has become an abnormality.

In the wild tumblers would normally breed with other non-tumbling pigeons, but the trait, which has now become part of their genetic code, will probably manifest itself in some further generations, not necessarily to the immediate next generation and so on.

Selective breeding of tumblers with others of the same kind can interfere with a pigeon’s ability to actually fly.

Dangers Of The Tumbling Trait

Some tumblers are called ‘rollers’ because of their tendency to execute several backward somersaults in a row. 

In extreme cases this tumbling has become an involuntary action.

Somersaults are triggered as soon as they take wing.

Flight has always been the pigeon’s immediate response to danger.

Anything to impede that will endanger the pigeon.

There is not only that to take into consideration, but actual physical harm to the bird without the agency of a predator.

If a pigeon takes flight and immediately goes into a tumble after just leaving the ground they can crash and frequently do.

It is the same if they launch themselves from a perch.

The involuntary tumbling action can cause them to crash into objects that during normal flight they would have avoided.  

Impact Of Tumbling On Pigeon Health

Considerable harm is done to a pigeon’s health and welfare when its natural ability to soar into the skies is curtailed by an involuntary tumbling trait.

Pigeons can suffer from stress, which in turn will lead to illness.

tumbler pigeons sitting

There are 17 recorded breeds of tumblers, so you can imagine the damage done to these birds by this kind of selective breeding.

Sometimes the ability to fly normally has been completely bred out of them.


Voluntary tumbling is a feat of aerial acrobatics that pigeons perform either for the sheer pleasure of it or as one of their arsenal of danger avoidance.

It shouldn’t be an inbred trait.

Mankind has done these wonderful birds a great disservice in breeding them to tumble.

This interference is considered cruel and should be stamped out.


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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