This Short-Beaked, Google-Eyed Pigeon Breed Looks Like a Real-Life Bird Caricature

The Budapest Short Faced Tumbler is a rare pigeon breed famous for its odd, almost alien-like appearance, with bulging eyes, a minuscule beak, and a triangular head.

When the Poltl brothers, a family of pigeon racing enthusiasts from Budapest, set out to create a new pigeon breed in the early 1900s, they used selective breeding to obtain a high-flying bird with unmatched endurance. They managed to achieve their goal, as the Budapest Short Faced Tumbler could fly for up to 5 hours without breaks, and cover a distance of around 800 kilometers. Endurance was its middle name, but those who saw it for the first time cared less about its flying capabilities and more about its unique look. The small face and beak, in contrast with bulging, frog-like eyes, intrigued or freaked people out, but it also made them pay attention.

It’s unclear why the Poltl brothers went for these almost caricature-like physical features when creating the Budapest Short Faced Tumbler. Some speculate that the extremely short beak and small face made them lighter, while the big eyes helped them fly higher, but no one really knows for sure. What we do know is that this unusual look made them popular with lots of breeders who raised them for their aesthetic value.

Personally, I would never call the Budapest Short Faced Tumbler ‘cute’, but that’s just me. However, the fact that these unusual physical features are problematic for the breed as a whole is undeniable. In fact, the features are part of the reason why the breed is so rare, even among dedicated pigeon breeders.

Simply put, baby Budapest Short Faced Tumblers often have a hard time hatching from their eggs, because of having a minuscule beak and large eyes that act as a cushion whenever they try to peck at the eggshell. Because the mortality rate is so high for this breed, pigeon breeders will often take the eggs and attempt to extract the chick before it dies of exhaustion inside the egg.

As you can imagine, knowing the exact time of a chick extraction requires meticulous record-keeping during incubation. That’s a lot of work on behalf of the breeders, and while many consider it worth the effort, generally speaking, there are much simpler breeds out there. Not to mention that even if the chick hatches on its own, due to the tiny beak of both parents and chick, milking is very difficult, and oftentimes, human intervention is required.

Today Budapest Short Faced Tumblers are more famous as unique-looking pets than as racing pigeons.