In Photos: Pigeons Show Off Their Fancy Hairdos

Rockin' Pigeons

rock pigeon head crests

(Image credit: Courtesy of Mike Shapiro)

The rock pigeon is a single species (Columba livia) with 350 different breeds with different sizes, shapes, colors, color patterns, beaks, bone structure, vocalizations and arrangements of feathers on the feet and head -- including head crests that come in shapes known as hoods, manes, shells and peaks.

Fashion Forward

rock pigeon head crests

(Image credit: Courtesy of Mike Shapiro)

Research detailed in the Jan. 31, 2013, issue of the online journal Science Express, researchers found a single gene mutation is responsible for these head crests, signaling the head and neck feathers to grow upward rather than down in a tamer fashion. Here, and English trumpeter pigeon.

What a Hoot

rock pigeon head crests

(Image credit: Image courtesy of Sydney Stringham.)

An Old German owl breed of domestic pigeon has a short beak (like other "owl breeds") and a crest of feathers on the head referred to as a shell crest.

Fantail

rock pigeon head crests

(Image credit: Courtesy of Mike Shapiro)

The scientists found a breed called fantails (shown here), which are typically associated with India, are related to breeds whose ancestors are known to have come from Iran.

Eastern Origins

rock pigeon head crests

(Image credit: Courtesy of Mike Shapiro)

Here, an Italian owl pigeon; the team found owl breeds of the rock pigeon are very closely related to breeds known to have come from Syria, Lebanon and Egypt.

Big Neck

A Brunner pouter pigeon.

(Image credit: Courtesy of Mike Shapiro)

A Brunner pouter pigeon.

Decked Out

rock pigeon head crests

(Image credit: Courtesy of Mike Shapiro)

Pomeranian pouter pigeon, showing off its feathery feet.

Short Beak

A Chinese owl pigeon

(Image credit: Courtesy of Mike Shapiro)

A Chinese owl pigeon

Sizing Up

rock pigeon head crests

(Image credit: Mike Shapiro, University of Utah)

These two rock pigeon breeds, the old Dutch capuchine (left) and komorner tumbler (right), are not closely related, yet they both have feathery ornamentation on their heads known as a head crest.

Sharing Traits

rock pigeon head crests

(Image credit: Mike Shapiro, University of Utah)

Two pigeon breeds shown here both share short beaks: the English longface tumbler (left) and the old German owl pigeon (right).

Jacobin Pigeon

A beautiful Jacobin pigeon with feathered hood.

A beautiful Jacobin pigeon with feathered hood.