The Antwerp Smerle pigeon is a fancy pigeon. It has fancy features like feathers tie (jabot) around the neck, a distinctive color pattern, and a short and broad beak not common in other pigeon breeds. The pigeon is also known to have a calm temperament and enjoys human interactions, making it suitable for keeping as a pet.
If you’re interested in knowing more about this bird, this article is for you. Below, we have provided you with all the info you need to know about Antwerp Smerle pigeons, including their rich and fascinating history, physical characteristics, behavior and temperament, and suitability as a pet.
Antwerp Smerle Pigeon Quick Facts:
|Scientific name||Columba livia domestica|
|Other names||Smerle Anversois, Smerla d’Anversa, Antwerpener Smerle|
|Breed name||Antwerp Smerle|
|Breed purpose||Exhibition, ornamental, pets|
|Size||Small to Medium|
|Weight||280 to 320 grams|
|Cost||$100 to $500|
|Lifespan||Around 10 years|
Origin and history
The Antwerp Smerle pigeon breed is from Belgium. Records show that this bird was first mentioned around the last half of 19th century due to being spotted in various parts of Antwerp in Belgium.
This bird was originally classified around the 1920s in England, at an exhibition in Belgium.
When this bird was imported to British, the English breeders didn’t like its head which still look like that of its wild relatives in terms of size, type, and overall style.
As a result, they crossed the Belgian breed with a turbit pigeon to help produce a better head and beak.
Breeders in the United States, later on, tried recreating the original Belgian Smerle to increase the existing gene pool. Fortunately, they achieved this by crossing a racing pigeon with a turbit breed. Nevertheless, this Antwerp Smerle is still considered a rare breed in the US.
As with other domesticated fancy pigeons, this breed was developed following years of selective breeding. And it’s a descendant of the rock pigeon.
It’s also interesting to note that this bird is considered one of the parents of today’s common homing pigeon.
Antwerp Smerle characteristics
The Antwerp Smerle pigeon is small to medium-sized, just like a racing homer (which is believed to have come from), and weighs approx. 280 to 320 grams.
It has a stocky body build and a slight upright stance—a common characteristic in owl pigeon breeds like Chinese owl pigeons and German owls. The bird features a round head and dark eyes.
Overall, it has a body appearance similar to that of the Aachen Lacquer shield owl pigeon.
One of the pigeon’s most notable and unique features is the jabot (feathers shaped like a tie) that grows down the front part of its neck. However, this frill appearance may not always appear in all Antwerp Smerle birds.
Another distinct feature is a short and broad beak that appears more enlarged at the base. Its mouthlines are also clearly visible.
In most cases, Antwerp Smerle pigeons feature a white head, body, breast, tail, and legs. However, their wings usually have a different coloration which can vary from cream to blue, yellow, silver, red, or black.
Some additional varieties also have colors that spread beyond wings and onto the neck and chest areas.
This video gives you a close-up visual of the Antwerp Smerle pigeon
Antwerp Smerle pigeon is generally quiet and calm. It is also sociable and enjoys the company of other birds as well as interactions with its owner. However, this may vary from individual to individual. So, taking the bird from a young age is a sure way to help tame it.
The pigeon also tends to display a high level of intelligence than other breeds. For instance, it seems to recognize itself in the mirror instead of thinking there’s a bird on the other side, like budgie and other pet birds do.
A healthy diet for Antwerp Smerle pigeons should be comprised of a variety of seeds and grains mixed together. You can also simply get your pigeon pellets formulated to provide them with all the essential diets. You can also feed them fresh vegetables and fruits to add variety and supplement their primary seeds diet. The birds also require clean and fresh water every day.
Antwerp Smerle pigeons as pets
Antwerp Smerle pigeons’ gentle and calm nature makes them suitable pets. They’re also good breeders and easy to care for, making them suitable for even beginner pigeon pet keepers.
If you wish to keep these birds, then you’ll need to ensure you provide them with suitable living conditions, and a balanced diet, and keep their health in check.
The ideal housing should be spacious and well-ventilated for the birds to move around and exercise. It should have plenty of perches, and nesting boxes for mating pairs. And secure it from harsh elements and predators.
Cleaning the enclosure regularly is also recommended to keep away contaminants and other hazards.
Proper diet is also key to keeping your birds healthy (check our previous section on the right diet for your pigeons). Be sure to clean the feeding bowl and water dish every time you’re feeding your birds for the sake of their health.
Pairing your birds or keeping them in small flocks is also recommended as their social and require regular socialization. this will keep them mentally healthy.
Above all, you should have an experienced avian vet check your birds regularly to keep them healthy.
The Smerle pigeons are excellent breeders and are also known to take good care of their young ones. However, you’ll also need to take a few measures in place to ensure successful breeding.
Start by selecting a healthy pair for mating. Getting your birds from a reputable breeder increases your chances of getting a pair that’s high-quality, healthy, and free of any genetic defects that may be transferred to the offspring.
You’ll also need to provide your pigeons with a suitable breeding environment. Ensure they have comfortable nesting boxes with comfortable nesting material.
During breeding, make sure you provide your birds with a healthy diet (with plenty of calcium and proteins) and clean and fresh water.
Typically, the pair will lay around 2 eggs per clutch which they’ll then incubate for around 18 days. The birds will feed and take care of their young ones. But you’ll also need to closely monitor them for health or development issues and get them professional vet assistance where necessary.
Above all, we advise you to keep accurate breeding records as a professional breeder. Record the age of your pair, any health and genetic issues they may have, their mating behaviors, etc.
This info will help you keep track of your breeding program and make the necessary adjustments in the future.
Antwerp Smerle price
An Antwerp Smerle price can range from $100 to $500. The varying price range is caused by factors such as age, bird’s gender, pedigree, the breeder you buy from, and your location.
Needless to mention, birds from a pedigree with proven performance in shows will usually go for higher prices. The bird is considered rare in the US, meaning the few breeders available are likely to sell it at high prices.
Your Antwerp Smerle pigeon should be able to live for around 10 years with proper care and attention. Poor animal husbandry is usually the main reason some of these pigeons die so early.
You can help increase your bird’s life expectancy including feeding it a healthy and balanced diet, keeping it a spacious and hygienic living space, encouraging regular exercise to keep it physically fit, and regular vet checks to keep the bird healthy.If you’re a pigeon enthusiast, you might be interested in our articles on African Owl pigeons and Victoria Crown pigeons. Our article on African Owl pigeons explores the breed’s characteristics, behavior, and history, as well as tips on how to care for and breed them. Meanwhile, our article on Victoria Crown pigeons provides an in-depth look at these beautiful birds, including their unique features, habitat, and conservation status. Don’t forget to also check out our article on Antwerp Smerle pigeons for more information on this fascinating breed.
The Antwerp Smerle pigeon is one of the top-rated show pigeons common in today’s world. It has a couple of distinct features such as the neck frill, strong and broad beak, broad forehead, and dark brown eyes. Its robust body with a more horizontal stance further makes it stand out from other pigeon breeds.
This breed also makes a suitable pet, even for complete beginners. The bird is friendly and non-aggressive towards other birds. It’s also easy to breed. However, you should make sure you take proper care of the bird by providing it with a healthy diet, suitable living space, and regular vet care. This will keep it happy and healthy for years to come.