Indian Mondaine Pigeons
(Columbidae - Please see also Doves)
Indian Mondaine is a rare breed. In fact, Carl Schoelkopf (the
author of below article) states that as of the year 2009, less than 40 of them
are currently kept in the Western World.
The Indian Mondaine
by Carl Schoelkopf
was known of the Indian Gola before 1900, although the breed was referenced by
Fazl, a pigeon fancier, whose words are recorded as early as 1590. A wild field-
pigeon of reasonably tame disposition, the Gola was easily domesticated by
farmers and field workers in northern and central India.
The thrifty Gola
became a valuable and economical addition to each farmstead. During the daylight
hours the flocks would range out gathering grain spilled from the harvest as
well as wild seeds. As they returned to their roosting sheds in the evening, the
Indian husbandmen would occasionally supply them with heavily salted water to
This would cause the Golas to regurgitate the grain they had
gathered. The keepers would gather the spilled, salty grain, wash it in fresh
water to remove the salt and sun-dry it the next day for use by other animals or
even for their own use.
Over the centuries of their development, the Golas
often varied in size and type due to cross-breeding and mixing of wild pigeons.
For unknown reasons the grizzle factor and tigering pattern became more strongly
fixed in this breed than in any other.
J.HW. Morgan, an Englishman
employed in the British India Service before 1900, found the Gola to be handsome
as well as a prolific breeder. Around that time he imported some of these birds
to Britain where he intended to introduce them to the squabbing industry.
Despite their medium size, Golas produced a heavy poundage of squabs per year
due to rapid and reliable reproduction.
In 1901, W. Edison Kain of New
York imported breeding stock from Morgan with the same economic objective. Kain,
however, was determined to grow them larger by crossing in various large
squabbing breeds already found in America. He used Carneaus, Maltese, Runts, and
French Gros Mondaines to increase squab size and yearly poundage, while
retaining the desired light skin and continuing the prolific nature of the
breed. Some crosses had to be discarded because while the size was often
increased, the other qualities were lost.
In the end, Kain produced a
strain of black and brown tigered and mottled pigeons which he called the
“Indian Mondaine.” The cocks ranged in size from 28 to 30 ounces and the hens
from 25 to 28 ounces. They were prolific and their squabs were approximately one
Occasionally duns, reds and yellows with the same markings were
found. In some areas of the United States Swiss Mondaines were crossed in
producing an excellent squabbing bird, large in body and good in skin color and
disposition. They were mainly white with splash and mottle
Always rare, there are not more than a half dozen breeders of
Indian Mondaines in North America, if that. In the 1950s, 60s and 70s, Hans
Wetter of Orofino, Idaho, was the primary booster of the breed. Running an ad
continuously in the American Pigeon Journal for years, Hans sold a pair or two
to curious fanciers and sometimes squab breeders would buy start-up stock, but
the Indian never really became a major breed in the industry.
as Han Wetter had to give up the fancy, Bob Sutherland of Everett, Washington,
bought out his stud of Indian Mondaines. Today Bob continues to have the best
stock of Indian Mondaines of the standard established by Kain and later. Andrews
of Los Angeles was also a dedicated breeder of Indian Mondaines for many years.
His Indians were heavy in Swiss Mondaine blood and are a whiter pigeon. A few of
his birds can still be found in that area.
Sutherland’s Indians are a bit
smaller than the Andrews type. They resemble the original Gola in color and
marking. They are often strikingly tigered, a beautiful bird to watch. It
appears to be difficult for the Indian Mondaine to hold its size as a squabbing
breed. Without outcrosses to other large breeds, they seem to return to the size
of the parent Indian Gola.
According to Willard Hollander, the geneticist,
the grizzle factor in the Indian Gola is a very old and well-established
characteristic. Over time it seems to win out in all of the crosses. Fanciers
have used the Gola to introduce the grizzle factor into pigeon breeds where it
was not formerly known.
Gentle and pleasant to look at, the Indian
Mondaine is an easy keeper and an energetic flyer. It is a very hardy bird, but
like so many of our rare breeds it is on the edge of extinction.
plan to be in pigeons all of your life and have facilities for larger breeds,
you may want to consider keeping a pair or two of Indian Mondaines. They will
not disappoint you.
Carl Schoelkopf, North Road Loft, Redding,
California…Rare Breeds Pigeon Club…www.racinghomers.com
Indian Mondaine Pigeon Lofts:
- North Road Loft,
Sutherland, Marysville, Marysville, WA
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