GENERAL STANDARDS OF EGYPT SWIFTS
(by Adel Salem at pigeonNews.com)
This article is a fair general description and not a standard for each group, which is done separately; However it will give the interested Non-ES fancier what to look for as they encounter this breed.
The standards of the Egyptians pigeons in Egypt have existed as early as the 18th century. DR W.F. Hollander a leading geneticist and pigeon researcher from Ames, Iowa. USA had written an article in November 1982 in the late American Pigeon journal indicating that he had reviewed a copy of it (Mekkatube-Duerigen, 1886). The book describes many ES as he had exactly seen them during his 1981 visit to Egypt. The hand written book was copied by concerned fanciers over generations, which many revere as the foundation of nowadays, ES. The Egyptian swifts were among several pigeons described in the book.
In 1938 an individual effort by Mustafa Gahnem led to more update of the standards. The book is found in leading libraries in Egypt.
The latest production is a combined effort by over fifteen leading Egyptian fanciers. The booklet includes all the flying Egyptian pigeons as well as few Shamy breeds (Syrian and Lebanese) such as Absy, Halaby and Karakandy, which I will stay away from in this site.
Basic sketches are included with each breed to illustrate its standards.
In addition to the sketches, I have added other close up photos to be updated by better ones as the time progress. The book became available in the market in 1997. The front page of the booklet on the top Left and next to it is the inside page of the the same booklet with Its ISBN is 977-19-0924-X.
The book is prepared by Mohamed Gab Allah with an effort led by Mohamed F. Buckley and several other leading Swifts fanciers to put this booklet together for mainly those who didn't grow up with the breed..
Mr. Buckley in his introduction has stated that the reason for publishing the booklet was "that the quality of birds that he saw in the show of Donchaster, England and Dartmouth, Germany did not represent the Egyptian breed. The Egyptian group that was touring then made a comment that " the birds that were registered under Egyptian Swifts only had some of the Egyptian bird only in color, but lacking all other qualities". The immediate response was "where is then the Egyptian standards"?. The group headed to Egypt to form a committee to oversee the birth of an organized and conclusive book of standards.
Customarily young fanciers in Egypt rely upon the wealth of experience that passes from one generation to the next by word of mouth, rather than concerning with books. Each neighborhood that is involved in the sport of flying has a designated cafe where fanciers gather in the evenings to discuss flying issues for that evening. The top veteran fanciers reinstated the standards that passed on for many generations. Those fanciers act as judges to settle differences among beginners. This could be followed by a toss up from an agreed upon distance. Betting is usually involved as agreed upon.
That system worked adequately in Egypt. You learn as you grow up, but was confusing to those who did not grow with the breed because of the many fine points. For that I have translated their latest book of standards. My views are not injected in the standards, as it will be reserved in my own articles.
The reader should realize that there are general European standards made upon importation of two unrelated Egyptian Swifts groups( Rehani and Otati) and mating them together to generalize all the other unique Egyptian groups that are different.
This article is a fair general picture and not a standard for each group; However it will give an interested Non-ES fancier what to look for as they encounter this breed.
What commands the standards of a breed?
This is determined by the refinement and development that few individuals have selected for a breed as compared against the rest of the population of the same breed.
The degree of difficulty in reaching a previously unattainable quality or qualities sets the tone for standards, that is followed later by generations to come.
Common characteristics of the Egyptian Swifts (ES)
The show ES:
Long sloped and narrow body, reaching normally between 11 to 13 inches or 27.9 to 33.0 cm, with concave backs. Low and horizontal station are expressed by short legs. Articulate small heads with short beaks.
Legs are free from feathers below the hock. The tips of their wings slightly shorter than the tail. Only surpass the tail in the Rehanis. All that give the birds their name, Swifts after the Chimney Swift.
The flying ES:
The body is not as skinny and feathery as the show bird. The flying bird is one or two inches shorter than a show bird, compacted and showing hardly any loose feathers. Legs tend to be of medium length rather than shorter length for a show bird. The head size is also larger than a show bird. In Egypt there is a considerable crossing between the two groups to complement each other.
The ultimate goal for a flying bird then is to reach a bird with a combination of good flying ability with most of the show qualities, but certainly not all.
Undesirable or cull
An ES with a large head and loose feathers, especially if it does not fly. Long legs with high erected and upright station, instead of horizontal.
Brittle and excessive length of feathers giving untidy appearance for the birds (loose feathered birds).
Birds with crests and frills are an indication of atavism (producing offspring similar to the ancestors) or cross breeding and should be removed.
Head and Neck evaluation (size, shape and beak setting)
It is a critical point for this breed. Those who wonder as they gaze at an ES asking,What makes the bird look the way it is? Simply, because of the relative small head size that sets on a short stout neck on a long bird.
How small is small? Especially when dealing with a breed that has various body length and size that will consequently have various head sizes. Fortunately there is a simple rule that could be followed.
Imagine that the head and chest-neck area is shaped as a cone with the head crowning it's pinnacle.
For the cone shape to look evenly sloped, the head on the top has to be the smallest part as we descend downward toward the base. This becomes a second nature as you raise many birds.
Following that rule a larger bird will naturally express a larger head size as compared to a lesser size.
In many birds the head appear tucked in the chest because of the short necks. Also note that the top of the skull is always round with prominent arch, and never flat.
Frontal and Mandibles:
Broad frontals forming a square or a rectangle heads in the best birds to complement the inclined beaks for those groups with inclined beaks.
I will divide the ES to further Four more groups on that bases:
A-Safi: Very owlish and full sweep as in African Owl; however much smaller head.
B-Anbary Asmar: Owlish head but larger than the Safi because the birds are proportionally much larger and prominent sweep between frontal and mandibles as well. Short beaks.
C-Ahmar Gohzar: as the above
D-Otati: Oblong heads ending with slight inclination and broad frontal. Short beaks
A-Mesaweds Oblong and lager than all ES and sweeping between mandible and frontal of the skull. Large birds.
B-Bolk Achdar(blue) These long and large birds also express stronger and long mandibles.
C- Bolk (black, indigo, Rose and Istan-buly) Oblong medium head. Beaks are short with broad inclined mandibles
A-Bolk Sakarota (yellow Shields): Conical beaks and the smallest heads in all Bolks making the eyes prominent.
A-Rehani(black,blue velvet, Asfar, Mawardy): Small heads and mandibles expressed as two grains of wheat setting on the top of each other.
The frontal is well expressed and nearly vertical to the beaks on some of the best birds among this group.
B-Bolk Banafsigy: same head shape as above. the color and meaning of Banfsigy is derived from the Violet flower,since it has bluish petals with peach stripes that correlates with the lacing of the Banafsigy its peach bars.
The eye sign:
There is so mush input and emphasis on the eye sign in the book of standards. Few ES fancier have supreme command of it. Each group has a color that correspond to it. The black body in the center of the eye is called the Pupil. Surrounding the pupil is the Iris. The Iris has pigmentation that gives the eye its distinguished color. The Iris in many ES exhibits two circles around the Pupil. The inner circle is wider and immediately surrounds the pupil and another outer lining is adjacent to the Eyelid. Each lining has its own color and that could be noted in Safis, Otatis and Anbarys. Each group has a unique Iris color and it could be a major disqualification point as you judge large and close quality birds. From yellowish gravel pigmentation to dark olive in darker Bolks with darker shields. Deep dark olive gravel Iris in Mesawed. Orange Iris in Rehanis.
Eyelid and wattle:
A-Smooth, reduced and colorless in all Swifts except for:
B- Anbary, Reds and Otatis show a notable wattle and thicker eyelids as these birds age.
C- Reds have red eyelids.
For the above reasons Swifts must be held in hand as part of a final evaluation and must be judged by an experienced Swift fancier.
I have translated the number system that adds up to a 100 points for each group. It was published on earlier versions of this site.