Why Do Tumbler Pigeons Tumble?

If you don’t know what a tumbler pigeon is, it’s a type of pigeon that has been named after its ability to tumble (spin) while in flight.

The question we have today, is why do these pigeons tumble in the first place? 

Genetic Traits 

Well, tumbler pigeons tumble because it is a genetic trait. It’s said to have developed in the wild as a survival mechanism, as it would have helped them avoid birds of prey.

As this was a useful trait, it gets carried down from generation to generation. Hence, we now have tumbler pigeons.

These fascinating birds have been around since before the 1500s and now are found globally. 

Selective Breeding 

Sadly, the story doesn’t end there. 

Tumbler pigeons have been increasingly popular over the years.

Due to their rise in popularity, many pigeon breeders have exploited their genetic traits, to show these magnificent birds off at pigeon shows. 

As an aside, in the wild, tumbler pigeons mate with non-tumbler pigeons. They aren’t so selective. Now, when it comes to genetics, not every trait is passed down from generation to generation.

What usually happens, is the trait will appear in some future generations. This is the way it has always been, and this is how this type of pigeon came into fruition. 

As a ploy to exploit their genetic traits, pigeon breeders engaged in selective breeding. In these cases, tumbler pigeons exclusively breed with tumbler pigeons.

This isn’t just because of their excellent aerial abilities. In a lot of cases, it is due to physical characteristics, such as colors and forms.

This has had negative consequences for the tumbler pigeons.

In some cases, tumbler pigeons have lost their tumbling trait, as the focuses were primarily on aesthetics.

In other, extreme cases, selective breeding has called these pigeons not to be able to fly at all. It is an unfortunate act against nature. 

Dangers Of The Tumble Trait 

This trait isn’t all escaping birds of prey, and putting on extravagant exhibits — it also comes with its own, unique dangers. 

There have been cases of pigeons tumbling involuntarily. In this situation, tumbling occurs soon as they take wing.

Now, keep in mind that a pigeon uses their ability to fly to respond to danger. If they do not have control of their flight, then the pigeon is immediately endangered. 

This isn’t just in the case of predators, but that is problematic enough, as they cannot get to safety efficiently. The other issue comes from just trying to exist as a pigeon.

If the pigeon tries to take flight but instead tumbles, there is a huge risk of the pigeon injuring itself. It is very unsafe, and can have catastrophic consequences. 

Even if the pigeon had minor physical damage, this involuntary action causes the pigeon to be stressed.

Imagine if your leg would randomly, and involuntarily, become numb whenever you tried to walk. It would eventually become very stressful for you. 


Watching a pigeon tumble, especially in the wild, is a beautiful sight. They are majestic, and it is easy to get lost in watching them fly. 

However, selective breeding has had awful consequences on these great birds. We should remind ourselves of the wrongs done to pigeons, and any other animals, to avoid any future abuse occurring. 

Thank you for reading.