THE ORIGIN, HISTORY, AND DEVELOPMENT OF THE BUDAPEST SHORT FACE.
By Dr. Istvan Szecsenyi, Budapest, Hungary 1986



The origin of the different breeds of pigeons are mostly unknown, including the Hungarian ones.
The explanation for it is partly given by the fact that to breed a bird with special characteristics and the
related inheritance factors, takes a very long time, often several human generations and partly that
"secrets" about the method of achieving this indeed remain a secret. It is undeniable that each variety is a
result of manipulation by the breeder, but the possibility to do this lies in the inclination for change in
the breed, sometimes with unexpected new characteristics such as crest, feathers on the leg, blowing
crop, number of feathers in the tail, etc. For example, it would be a waste of time if someone wanted to
breed a pigeon which is self colored as a nestling and then after the first moult to expect the pigeon to
develop white shield markings on the wings, unless the particular characteristic had occurred sometime
in a primitive form. The human element enters here at this point to notice it, fix the new characteristic or
mutation and then develop it.
A more common method to create new varieties is by crossing existing breeds and transplanting
some quality to the other breed, or altering the existing qualities. By arriving in this way to a new breed
with a standard is not, however, the end of the story. A standard of perfection, as everything in nature, is
subject to constant change. This change and the speed of change by different breeds in pigeons vary
considerably, but it can be observed in each case. We have only to compare pictures taken or drawn a
few decades ago with the same birds in question today. The tastes and with it the aims to reach a new
ideal, are changing all the time.
So, shaping a new breed is a very complex and complicated procedure and is, therefore, difficult to
untangle. The Budapest Short Face is no exception, but compared to other breeds we have numerous
written evidence which can be regarded as authentic from the middle of the last century, regarding the
history of the breed. In addition, we have "lip services" from old fanciers of previous generations,
although few of them can be taken as evidence, because they are mostly contradictory.
The present Budapest Short Face has three ancestors. the Budapest Storked, the Buda Blue, and the
Viennese Short Face Self and Ganzle. From the origins of these, I quote the following literature to trace
certain facts.
Gustav Prutz in his book "Illustrierte Taubenbuch" (1886) mentioned for the first time the Pest
Storked (Buda and Pest were two cities, divided by the river Danube and joined only later) and describes
it with the Prague Storked. According to him, there is no difference between the two, apart from the Pest
Storked being a bit smaller. He mentions that the Prague Storked has a darker grizzled variety as well.
German literature refers to writings of Gasparetz, Petz, Szulzberger, who reported that already in
the 1850's there existed outstanding Storked birds in Buda and in Pest. Unfortunately, these reports are
lost but in the above mentioned book from Prutz, there are pictures
of these Pest Storked birds.
Again, German sources inform us about the distribution of our Storks in the 1870's to the southern
parts of Poland which was then part of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire, especially in Wroclaw, Krakow,
Lemberg, and Stettin. For decades several breeders bred them there and also used them to create local
variants. The first outstanding Hungarian author Gyorgy Balassa gave the title "Budapest Storked
Tumbler" to his book published in 1901. In spite of the above given title, Balassa refers to this bird in
his text only as "Pest Storked." In the same book he also deals with the "Vienna Storked Tumbler." In
his opinion, the two are identical but the Pest Storked is smaller and more regular in marking.
The book by Lavalle and Litze in 1905 gives us highly interesting facts. In the chapter "The
Budapest White Storked Circler (Tumbler)" they write as follows "The Budapest Storked" is extremely
valuable if it attains the expected requirements, but most pigeons, which are referred to in Budapest as
highflyers under the name of Hungarian "Lightning-Flyers", "Cloud-Pushers", ete. are not real Budapest
Storked, only poor crossings without any high or endurance flying abilities."
Again, at the turn of the century we find Henrik Zaoralek. a distinguished Vienna breeder writing:
“The mistaken theory that had been upheld for years was suddenly settled by a lucky coincidence. It was
generally assumed that one part of the flying pigeons with medium long beaks are not of Far Eastern
origin. Dr. Binder. a ship’s doctor from Trieste - a member of the First Austrian-Hungarian Poultry
Federation in Vienna - traveled often to the Far East and 18 years previously brought pearl eyed Storked
Tumblers from Calcutta which were a little stronger in structure, but otherwise not much different from
the birds of Vienna bred under the Viennese name."
In 1914 Ferenc Peschky, the highly regarded president of the Hungarian Pigeon Federation writes
the following in the Pigeon Journal about the Storked of his day; "1 believe, it can be stated beyond any
doubt. that the Budapest Storked, like other breeds, is the result of skillful crossing. Unfortunately, our
predecessors took the secrets of these crossings with them to their graves. However, by closer study it
becomes clear that while one specimen has colored plumage, the other one is white, even white self, the
third has an edge, or even the edge lacking and the whole tail is bluish black, one has a red cere, the
other one black or bluish black, even the beaks are different; we find light, black and blue black as well.
These diversities point to a pigeon which was created by crossing." An Austrian expert, Panek arrived at
the same conclusion in his book titled "The Viennese Tumblers." According to him the Pest storked is
nothing else more than a refined Viennese Storked, "which was intentionally, or by chance created with
the “Black Viennese Short Face Tumbler." The Pest Storked owes its shape not only to the breeders
whose name it bears; it's present form owes a great deal to the breeders in Vienna, Prague, Bratislava
and to other places as well." One of the best known breeders, Gyorgy Baramtler. a flour merchant, near
to the end of his life in 1897 being over 90 years of age refused to accept the name "Pest Pigeon". He
asserted that "the light short beak ones" were already kept as flying birds in his childhood. However,
Panek concludes that the name and the right to a standard should be left to Budapest, as this bird gained
ground and is most popular there.
After the first, but especially after the Second World War, several journals at home and
abroad dealt with our Storked, but essentially nothing new had been added which can be regarded as
reliable concerning genetics, ancestry, or evolution. I once asked, in the early 1930's a man then
about 70 years old nicknamed "King of the Storked", Mr. Gedeon Saska, a proud driver of a horse
drawn cab in Budapest. What do you know about the pedigree of our Storked? He answered, “It was
gained by crossing the Buda Blue with the Viennese Short Face White Self." According to this, the
Short Beak Storked did not descend from the old Storked Tumbler.
So, the given facts point in all probability to the Eastern origin of our Storked and they were
already bred at the beginning of the last century at the three capitals of the Austrian-Hungarian
Empire; Vienna, Budapest and Prague under various local names but rather identical in structure.
Later, however, by crossings - two different breeding aims emerged, which according to the above
quoted literature was already at work at the turn of the century. This is very interesting regarding the
origin of the Budapest Highflyer as well.
In the 1920's the Budapest Storked Tumbler still existed. I remember them myself. Small in
body, stocky, regular storked in marking with more or less square head with pearl eyes and was a
good flyer. They were popularly known as "Struchti", “sturkli", "sturak", or "stork". This breed was
later destroyed by indiscriminate crossing with all sorts of flying breeds and so disappeared. The
only survivor of this family which is well known even today is its feather legged version.
The Pest Storked has had only a general description, its first standard was laid down in 1910
under the name “Budapest Storked." The earlier tumbler breed became partly a show pigeon and in
1919 this was acknowledged as a breed under the name "Budapest Show Storked." In 1958, a new
standard was written, keeping the old beauty ideal, but with a more refined version. So, the "fine
nosed" Show Storked, which not so long ago was considered as an ancient breed, is not that at all,
but rather a gradual progression to a beauty ideal, whose development has gone on for decades and is
continuing.
We know even less of the origin of the Buda Blue, than the Storked. It is strange that German
literature, which at the turn of the century gives detailed information about our Storked, but does not
mention the Buda Blue at all. Instead the Eger Blue (Erlauer) is described. The Buda Blue emerges
in German literature much later, for the first time in a book by Richard Seliger.
In 1901, Balassa, in his book, puts the group of Short Faced Tumblers together with the Eger
Blue next to the Budapest Storked, again not mentioning the Buda Blue. However, apart from the
color, he describes the Eger Blue identically to the Budapest Storked; “His head is beautifully
square, eyes pearl, big and bulging". According to this, this is how the Eger Blue looked at the end
of the last century, as we now believe the Buda Blue was like. It is in the very noteworthy collection
of Bela Barbai's German pigeon literature after the first world war dealing with" The Budapester
White Storked Pigeon", among others, that we find; "From the beginning of the century, here and
there until the First World War, they kept in Budapest and certain provincial towns in Hungary a
very small bodied, light blue short beaked pigeon, which had beautiful light pearl eyes and a large
dark blue cere. This bird was often used to improve certain aspects of the Budapest Storked. This
crossing explains the recurrent appearance of the mottled head and neck and bars on the wings of the
Grizzle. This small, light blue pigeon is today virtually extinct. In Budapest, the bird was incorrectly
called the "Eger" and in Eger it was called “Buda Blue." This seems to strengthen the assumption
even more, that around the turn of the century the Buda Blue and the Eger Blue was the same breed
with perhaps slight local variations.
In all those areas, where the Budapest Storked is liked and bred (Poland, Czechoslovakia,
Germany) it has been well known for a long time as a small bodied, short beaked blue pigeon, which
differs from ours today mainly by its broader head, smaller eyes and has a very short but thin beak.
They are today the blue version of the Prague, Polish and Stettin Short Face.
Regarding the extinction of our Buda Blue at the turn of the century, about which we have ample proof
in our literature. Ferenc Pesschky (“The Pigeon" June, 1914) writes; “In my opinion crossing the Budapest
Storked and the Buda Blue with its short, black beak and square head would be the best choice, if we could
find one of them."
Two books (Janos Winkler: "Pigeon Breeding", published in 1925 and Ferenc Moldvai (“Handbook
for Pigeon Breeding" 1938) both written by devoted experts, did not even mention the Buda Blue, and
again, Geza Cserei in the July, 1932 issue of the "Modern Fancier Journal" repeats; "For this purpose (fresh
blood for the Storked) the dark skinned Buda Blue would be the best, but unfortunately this breed is lost
forever.”
The lines of Ferenc Bango sound quite dramatic (in the October, 1938) issue of "Small Animal
Breeder Journal") under the headline; “The decline of pigeon breeding in and around Budapest". He
laments; "To breed the Buda Blue, one needed an appropriate skill and knowledge. Where are all of our
Buda Blues? Where have they gone, these universally known beautiful pigeons of ours? Exterminated,
perished……. Extreme inbreeding led to their disappearance."
The Hungarian Pigeon Journal, in its May issue in 1938 published an article by Henrik Braunz about
the “Buda Blue Tumbler". According to him, the Buda Blue Tumbler is a product of an exclusive
Hungarian crossing, a testimony of the art and steadfastness of our breeders. The Buda Blue can be
regarded as one color variant of the Budapest Show Storked. It did lose much of its originality by improper
crossings. The beautiful specimen of bygone days cannot be seen anymore and those still around are cross
bred freaks."
In 1929 in Magyarovar ( a town in West Hungary) two pairs of short faced Eger Blues turned up from
Eger itself and I was able to acquire one pair of them. The cock was light blue and the hen was dark blue
with lustrious neck feathers. The description given by Braunz fitted completely to these birds. "The Buda
Blue is a small, delicately figured, decorative, perky, showing off pigeon, with a relish to please dancing on
its tip toes like a ballerina and giving the impression that it boasts of its beauty". I have to mention here,
this pair I bred faded red colored offspring as well, which certainly hints to cross breeding.
From 1930 on, a group of Budapest Fanciers set up a working program to re-create again the Buda
Blue. Ferenc Szabo, one of them, kept for years 20-30 pairs of crossings of short faced pigeons in the attic
of the Hungarian National Museum, until - at last - in 1940 he succeeded in presenting the first Buda Blue
corresponding to the Standard. The photo of this specimen can be seen in the book "Pigeon Breeding", by
Ferenc Bango.
Other efforts by breeders were crowned with success as well. Some used remaining freaks and crossed
them with good quality Show Storked, Viennese and later they used Budapest Short Faced Blues and
Blacks.
I have made the same crossbreeding in the 30 subsequent years. Taking into consideration that by crossing
pigeons it appears the inclination to regain the color of the ancestor, - the rock pigeon's blue and
black beak, black nail, was relatively easy to obtain, but to change the light color of the ceres to dark blue
was a long term procedure. This was the time to breed Budapest Short Face, the time for effective crossing
of the Viennese Short Face and the Budapest Show Storked, which resulted in a very useful by product in
recreating the Buda Blue. Several fanciers used this method to set up new blue stocks.
The first draft of the Standard of the Buda Blue was planned by Henrik Braunz and the Hungarian
Pigeon Association's Fancy pigeon section ratified it with slight alterations on the 8th of May. 1938.
The next standard followed twenty years later in 1958 with the amendment that the Budapest Show Stork
and the Buda Blue are only two color variations of the same breed. With this accomplishment the new
chapter of the Buda Blue story was closed.
At the turn of the century, the Viennese Short Face was probably more favored in Hungary,
especially in Budapest, than the Pest Storked. All opinions agree that the origin of the breed being the Barb
was crossed with other medium beaked tumblers to obtain a short beaked flyer. The “heart” shape of the
back (German; geherzt, or geelstert, Viennese-German; Gansel. English; lately called the "magpiedtt) ,
according to the literature was obtained through a smooth headed version of a magpied crested tumbler,
which was bred in Northern Hungary and Southern Poland and which was crossed again with the Barb to
reach the self type. The Prague Short Face Self alone reminds us today of this breed. Both in Vienna and
Budapest the short face birds were smaller in body, but still with marks pointing to the Barb.
Whether this breed came to us from the East or the West is disputed. Peschky writes in the
"Pigeon" in 1914, "To name it as Viennese is a mistake, no written evidence exists whatsoever
supporting the claim that Vienna is the birth place of this pigeon, nor any trace of a record
concerning any crafty crossing there for producing it. Even 35 years ago breeders, then 70-80 years
old, testified that in their childhood this bird was widely popular in Pest and Buda." Quoting
the "Pigeon Breeding Journal" March, 1937 under the headline "Foreign Connections of Hungarian
Fanciers, we can read; Miklos Petz, a confectioner from Buda traveled regularly every month to
Vienna to satisfy both the breeders of Vienna and Budapest in their requirements. Most of the
Viennese Short Face arrived in Hungary in exchange for the Budapest Show Storked from Hungary
to Austria. But at the time the Budapest Breeders possessed such a high quality Viennese Short
Face that these were often taken back as well to Vienna."
It is interesting that although the Barb is a breed with a straight beak, the breeds originating
from it lacked this quality. The downwards pointing beak became a part of the Standard of the
Prague Short Face. With the Viennese they aimed for a straight beak, but in general this was not
achieved, even today. In regard to this, Henrik Braunz writes ("Small Animal Journal" June, 1934);
originally the beak of the Viennese Short Face was always pointing slightly downwards, only in the
last 25-30 years breeders tried to breed an entirely straight one."
The most favored colors of the Viennese Short Face were in the following order; firstly; black,
then yellow, finally red. Dun, lark, faded blue were not valued much and were regarded as
transitions. Even the rare white self and their quality fell behind the other colors. In Buda, Alayas
Weiszenau was the sole breeder of them. Ferenc Bango writes in the July 1928 issue of the "Small
Animals" under the title; "The Viennese Short Beaked Pigeons" as follows; "The white self version
of the Viennese were allowed to die out. From various breeds of white pigeons with short beaks we
attempt now by crossing, to develop good whites again. It is better not to speak about how primitive
these efforts are at present." However, today we have to thank Ferenc Bango for his relentless
persistence and expert skill to have extremely high quality beautiful white Budapest again.
In Budapest, the breeding aims and requirements of the Viennese Short Face have parted
ways many decades ago. Here the aim was to breed - in contrast to the original square head with
its flat top to a bird with larger, sharply marked head, with larger eyes surrounded by lemon
yellow ceres. For this reason, in the twenties the idea emerged to name this altered breed
Budapest Short Face. About this new beauty ideal, the opinions were, however, far from
unanimous. At that time, there was an intention to alter the Viennese Short Face to a form which
many breeders rejected, and in retrospect, with today's eyes it can be regarded as incorrect.
Without diminishing the merits of Ferenc Bango's contributions to the breeding of the Budapest
Short Face, here we have to point out one of his mistakes. He wanted a bird to be accepted with
such an exterior as the Budapest Short Face, which it is true - had not much to do with the
Viennese one, but at the same time was disliked by the majority of the breeders in Budapest and
consequently stopped and has nothing in common with the Budapest Short Face bred today.
Istvan Pachman wrote about the unlucky move by Ferenc Bango in the June 1927 issue of
the "Small Pets" under the title; "The Budapest Short Beak" Approximately, 15-20 years ago our
pigeons with short beaks changed entirely, the aim of the breeder took a new direction, a new
breed was created. Compared to the old type birds, this specimen has a much larger and bulging
eye. While the old standard requires the square head, our short beaked bird's head tend to be
more rounded. The short, thick beak forms no right angle with the forehead anymore, but instead
points slightly downwards." The answer to this claim came in 1927 from the Viennese Journal
"Der Taubenzuchter" (The Pigeon Breeder); Josef Farneck, a famous Viennese Breeder gives the
answer in the name of the Viennese Breeders and rejects the Hungarian claim of a new breed. It
can only be called a "Refined Viennese Short Face." During the long standing verbal arguments,
this pigeon was referred to as the “calf headed one" (early Budapest Short Face) and was not
long lived, the majority of Hungarian breeders with better taste did not accept it either and so it
soon disappeared completely.
The Turning Point
Apart from this very unlucky start, the Viennese Short Face bred in Budapest went
through such fundamental changes, that the time came, when the different tastes could
be unified in a club, consisting of the community of the breeders who understood, it is
high time to agree on all the details of the new beauty ideal. This happened in 1956 and
from that time the Budapest Short Face Self and White flighted became a registered
breed in Hungary.
The Hungarian Short Face Breeders Club distributed the standard worldwide,
which resulted in several reviews in the foreign press concerning pigeons. (Deutsche
Gefugelzeitung DDR, Die Taubenwelt, Deutscher Kelintierzuchter, Geflugelborse FRG,
American Pigeon Journal, Pigeon Review, USA, and Pigeon World, England, Raceduen
Denmark, Duevennen, Norway, Aviculture, Holland, Vogel-Kleindier-Magazine,
Belgium.) Heated arguments followed on an international level with the Viennese
Breeders, but the "battle" was won by the Hungarians.
In 1957, Lerch wrote in the Taubenwelt" as follows; "We have here beyond any
doubt a new breed, the described pigeon is not the Viennese Short Face anymore. Why
should the Hungarians have no right to breed after decades of strenuous efforts their
own breed according to their own tastes? The world became richer with a beautiful
short face and many breeders would like to keep them." Since that time all the "trade"
books everywhere describe the difference between the Vienna and Budapest Short Face.
However, our goals about further development of this new breed was by no means
finished. By reaching the united beauty requirement (Standard) with the Budapest Show
Storked and Buda Blue - two breeds which were always ONE Breed, we wanted to
extend this to the Selfs (solid colors and patterns), White Flights and "Heart on the
Back" (Ganzles) as well. The ideal of head, eye, beak, figure, carriage became identical,
only the color of the plumage, or marking and corresponding with it the color of the
beak and nail remained different. It meant that we have produced an identical breed -
Budapest Short Face Tumblers-both light beak and dark beak varieties.
Lajos Gingl, an outstanding figure concerning our Short Beak Breeding, in the early 1960's
already drew a unified picture of our Budapest Short Face, which appeared in the book "Pigeon
Breeding" by Dr. Szuch and Dr. Szecsenyi in 1965 and in several foreign journals.
After twelve years of preparations and arguments, a Standard was proposed, outlined by
Ferenc Bango, Karoly Jano, Alfred Mayer, and Dr. Istvan Szecsenyi and after point by point
discussions during a period of one year by eighty selected members of the club, it was finally
accepted in 1968. According to this conclusion, the Self, White Flight and "Magpied" Budapest
Short Face are nothing else than various color, pattern, and marking varieties of the Budapest
Show Storked with all its gracefulness, delicacy and noble fineness.
In the textbook for Judging Pigeons, issued by the Hungarian Pigeon Federation, we find
Alfred Mayer - the outstanding pigeon expert writing that The Budapest Show Storked, the
Vienna Self and the Buda Blue (which died out, but was re-bred again) were mixed to such a
high degree by us that in the last decades the specimens formed such a new, unique type, that
today we are able to state: here is a new breed with various color and marking varieties and there
is no need to call them by different names. There are many breeds of Hungarian birds and it
would be unjustified to add new ones to their numbers by giving names to slight local varieties.
The Standard, which is based on the figurative characteristics, gave us further possibilities
to breed new colors as, for example, the Prague Short Face, or Stettin Short Face. Actually, we
ourselves had these colors for years, only they were not in the Standard. Consequently, in
December, 1981, the Budapest Short Face Club in a full meeting ratified the resolution to admit
all color variations to the standard, for instance, the Blue Checker with black beak, the Black
with black beak, the dilute of Blue called Silver, and the faded yellow. In April and May, 1982
the Club held meetings to supervise the resolution yet again. The new varieties were already
partly introduced at the Show in Gent not a very long time ago and we hope to see new results of
our breeding programs at Shows held in Hungary in the future.