These questions were presented by you over the years. I will periodically update them as needed.
Q What is the difference between the Egyptian and the Syrian Swifts?
Answer:The Egyptian Swifts (ES) have 10 well defined groups. Each is unique with will defined markings. They collectively share a common marking of long body, wings, tail and short legs. The Syrian Swifts (SS) is the product of random crossing among the ES groups. Thus producing a breed that lacks the brilliant ES colors (drab in colors). They also lack the beak siting and posture.
Q Where did the SS originate?
Answer:They originated in Europe and not in Syria as the name imply. The misnomer spread to the rest of the West including the USA. Short and compacted bird with drab colors were dubbed SS. Long bird with loose feathers and more pronounced colors were claimed to be ES in Europe.
Q What are Swifts called in the Middle East?
Answer:Neither the term SS nor ES is used around the Mideast. When found, pure ES are known as the Egyptian birds in that region. In Egypt the term is alien and many distinguish this breed from others by the naming them "Gohzar. "
Q What is the Swifts history in the West?
Answer:They arrived in 1925 to England from Egypt. Egypt was the under the British occupation. The first documented account in the USA was noted when Sam Shadeed, a Syrian immigrant, brought along few ES among a variety of birds from that region, which was the inception of the Syrian-Lebanese breed in the USA. It is of essence to mention that there is absolutely no difference between the Lebanese or Syrian birds. Both countries were under one flag until the end of the of World War Two.
Q Where could I find more reference for the ES?
Answer:The book of pigeon by "Levi" has a primitive picture of a "Gazgandi" and had it titled as ES. Another in the same book of an Otati by Sam Shadeed. There was hardly any worthwhile material covering the breed, in a book that covered a mass of breeds. Three Egyptian Booklets in Arabic are in Egyptian libraries. I am using the latest issue for the standards.
Q Is it possible to have flying birds and still compete in a show?
Answer:The maximum length of the flying bird is around 30 to 32 cm as compared to far more than 32 cm for a show bird. A show bird has a more compacted head than a flying one. The body of a show bird tends to be fragile with loose feathers and they always require foster parents. A good flying loft should maintain 70 to 80% of a show quality. The compacted birds are healthier and stronger. They survive colder and harsh weather. The choice is always yours.
Q What are the most important qualities that makes a bird win a show?
Answer:At this point fanciers see the length and the bird size only and that reflects of judging. Now many interested fanciers are knowledgeable about the different groups and their corresponding colors. Little or no knowledge about the facial markings and the eye sign. Shows are subjective at this point and it will not change overnight, but the numbers are steadily increasing.
Q What are the difference between the Egyptian and the European Standards?
Answer:The European, namely the British and the German have one standard for the entire ES groups. Not only you are dealing with ten groups, but many sub groups as well. The European have mixed the Rehanis, Azrak Katifa (Blue velvets) and Otatis and lumped them all under the ES? You can't judge a pussycat under the same standards of a lion. One might argue they both come from the "feline" family! In short they are dead wrong and confusing at best.
Question:Why fanciers have different spelling for the Swifts names?
Answer:The same goes for their pronunciation. The reason is that these names are new to the English tongue. I might add that the Egyptian slang pronounce the names differently from the correct and proper Arabic language.
Question: Why are the black Ott'atis (Otatis) considered beautiful and black Rehanis thought of as culls?
Answer: I will take the Black Otati and the Black Rehani any time if they have the proper body style and of course the beak setting over a colorful bird without the proper settings. The color might escape for one or two generations, but eventually it will come back. Looks are the most illusive. "It is also the identity of the bird".
Question: Can you or have you ever mated two Black Otatis?
Answer:No, but some fanciers in Egypt do and produce the Andalusian from such a mating. As long as you know that the two birds are produced from Otatis parents with good colors. In the mean time why would you do that when you could cross them with lighter colors. I would go for such a combination, if they have promising features and qualities.
Question: In Egypt, do you have the same split as you do in North America, where you have a certain group of people who want only birds for their sheer beauty and the other group want them for fliers?
Answer: Yes, the split prevails worldwide and not only limited to a country or a region from what I hear. Locking the birds and breeding for looks in Egypt, has seen a big increase in the past twenty years due to the urban expansion and the lack of time and guts to fly the birds. I would say that the division is equal now in Egypt between the two camps. The younger people in general tend to fly, because it takes more energy. Beauty and looks are traits thought by veteran and more experienced fancier. It takes years of raising a breed to see its fine traits. As youngsters, we only cared about colors and how strong they flew. Younger folks have usually more time on their hand and enjoy the interaction of flying and the problems that come with it. The game changes later on in life with the tendency to help mother nature to preserve or even improve some of it's images. Although not in my younger days anymore, I am still fascinated to watch them flying. I even remember a fancier in his late sixties and was still flying in the late evening. We used to joke about his ability to spot an outsider bird among his birds after the sunset.
Question: What Swifts would be classified as being rare in Egypt?
Answer: All the groups that are on display on this site are readily available in most lofts. What is certainly not available and considered rare are those birds that are produced with such a precision to the standards. This means the proper body size, length, beak setting, head size, proper station and so on. One reason that prompts me to buy several birds from each group is to cover a deficiencies among birds. I don't have many prefect picture birds, but close enough to satisfy me. This is an ongoing process and could always be improved. As I stoped flying the selection has readily improved.
Near perfect birds are not usually for sale. Their prices are astronomical if you insist on buying them.