The Magpie pigeon was originally part of the Tumbler breeds although today in the U.K. it is purely kept as an exhibition breed. In Darwin times the breed was very much smaller and his red specimen at Tring Natural History Museum bears this out. This bird is mentioned on a list of breeds on one of two narrow strips of paper exhibited at Down House Museum.
H H Shrives in the 1960's mentions in an article in "Pigeons & Pigeon World " that the Magpie came from Germany and was called by them the Elster Tummler and during the 1880's Frank Warner (later Sir Frank) conceived the idea that this breed should be more stylish. He then bred longer birds by selection within the breed.
Other fanciers tried outcrosses including Scandaroons.Exhibition Homers and Carriers but none of these were successful.
In 1908 Bracey & Cooke introduced the Bagdais as an ourtcross and in 1910 produced Magpies from this cross.
The UK club was formed in 1885 and the first standard was drawn up two years earlier in 1883.The breed is still to be found in its original form in Eastern Europe.
Victorian Magpie fancier and judge Alfred Winter
Original Magpie Tumblers from present day Hungary courtesy of Mick Bassett, Germany
Victorian Magpie Tumblers by
Magpie Pigeons in aviary
Photo courtesy Nev Worley U.K.