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22:05, Harry Shannon Kit, World Record Old Bird, 21.05.1995

The tippler is a breed of domestic pigeon bred to participate in endurance competitions. Flying results of up to 22 hours (non-stop) have been reported.

20:29, Karl Kocholl Kit, World Record Young Bird, 2004
Jack Boden Kit, 20:40, 1975


J. Bodens

The pigeon evolved from the Rock Pigeon (Columba livia) that is endemic to the region between the Mediterranean and China. Some of the domestic pigeon breeds are believed to have originated from the Middle East, but there is no guarantee that this is the origin of the tippler. There are many proposed theories regarding the origin of the tippler. The predominant theory is that the tippler may have been a cross breed, between the developing homing pigeon and the cumulet. This cross-breeding was thought to improve the endurance flying abilities and allow a much larger, accurate flight range and therefore increasing the time of flight. It is proposed that selection for this long-term flying ability has helped to eliminate the early tumbling flight behavior. There seems no doubt that the tippler has been developed through selective breeding and that they are of the Tumbler descent. The breed is believed to have originated in 1845, near the two silk milling towns of Congleton and Macclesfield in East Cheshire, England. The aim of the traditional breeders was to perfect the "butterfly action" of the wings. It is the ease and grace that the wings were used to enable the tippler to attain its long flight duration. Wendell Levi, in his book The Pigeon, cites a reference from Hepworth (1893) who interviewed W. Jolly of Mill Green. The reference states that he had been breeding tipplers for fifty-six years. That would take the origin back to at least 1837. Levi also comments that the breed was developed around the towns of Rainow and Macclesfield. It further mentions, "Macclesfield tipplers," as a strain or type of tippler (see below), and that they were named after the region in which they were developed.

20 years of inbreeding by Gordon Hughes (1953-1973)


There are a number of well-known "types" of tipplers named after different breeders or the location they originated from. Most of these types have flown over 19 hours many times.

"Hughes" are, for instance, a type of tippler bred by Gordon Hughes in Derby, with a flying record of 18:07 in 1976, young birds.[citation needed]

Another famous type is the "Boden" bred by Jack Boden in Handsworth with a flying record of 20:40 in 1975, and are old birds. Bodens have also flown for over 20 hours many times.[citation needed]

"Sam Billingham", Arthur Newton, Joe Davies, and Jack Holland were also among the top breeders of England.[citation needed]

Other popular types include "Lovatt", "Merredith", Shannon also known as Irish Delight, and Sheffield which usually comes in colors red and yellow.[citation needed]

Wilf Lovatt, 20:00, 1963


Tipplers are very intelligent (see pigeon intelligence) birds and can be trained to fly long hours and drop only when the trainer asks them to.

The following training program was published by W. Matthews in N.T.U. Yearbook 1987:
"Thirty-Six Stages for the Flying Tippler Novice".

Eric Anslow, 21:21 in 1994

Competitions and flying rules[edit]

The Homing Pigeon flies to race home, the Roller Pigeon flies to roll, but the tippler just flies and flies. The fanciers of tipplers can compete against others anywhere in the world without leaving the confines of their own home. A "kit" of tipplers consists of three or more pigeons. The tippler team is best when small; controlling and managing a small kit is in fact easier. Each tippler club has a set of defined flying rules. Generally, the aim is to let the whole kit of tipplers fly above and around the house for as long as possible. When one of the tipplers lands, or if the fancier gives the landing sign, that is the end of the competition. Usually, the birds have to be seen every hour during serious competitions by the referee to make sure that they are indeed flying. Most clubs have their flying rules based on the "NTU flying rules".

Gordon Hughes in his loft.

There are two categories of competition: young birds and old birds. A young bird is one hatched during the current year, and in order to qualify for young bird competition, must bear a seamless band issued for that year. Any bird wearing a band issued for any previous year is regarded as an old bird regardless of its actual age. The first old bird race is usually about the middle of April, the rest following at two week intervals. The most important competition is organized on the so-called Long Day. The longest day (usually in weekend) of the year.

International records[edit]

Top 6 Old Birds
Record (h) Fancier Place Year
22:05 H. Shannon Ireland, Lisburn 1995
21;21 E. Anslow England, Springfield 1994
21:11 H. Shannon Ireland, Lisburn 1994
21:10 H. Culter Ireland, Ulster 1992
21:00 J Lamb Ireland, Crumlin 2001
Top 6 Young Birds
Record (h) Fancier Place Year
19:40 H. Shannon Ireland, Lisburn 1993
19:34 Plester England, Birmingham 1990
19:19 Shannon Ireland, Lisburn 1990
19:16 Shannon Ireland, Lisburn 1994
19:16 Brown England, Gladless 1986
19:03 Shannon Ireland, Lisburn 2010


  • National Tippler Union of Great Britain NTU
  • National Flying Pigeon Association -INDIA [1]
  • American Tippler Union ATU
  • Bulgaria Tippler Club NTKBG
  • Dutch Tippler Club [2]
  • Flying Tippler Club of North America FTCNA
  • The Flying Tippler Association of America FTA
  • Canadian Tippler Union CNTU
  • Russian Tippler Club RTC
  • German Tippler Union DFU
  • German Tippler Club TCD
  • Croatia Tippler Union HTS
  • Czech Tippler Club KCHT
  • Nepal Pigeons Keeper Association NPKA
  • Australian Flying Tippler Union (AFTU) [3]
  • National Tippler Union Of TURKEY / (NTU-TR) [4]
  • National Tippler Union Of TURKEY / Bursa (BTK-TR) [5]
  • National Tippler Union Of TURKEY / Istanbul (İTK-TR) [6]



  • CURLEY, J. T. 1961. The time-flying tippler pigeon sport. Howell Book House, New York, NY. [7]

External links[edit]