"About The Pigeons That Alexander III of Russia Kept"

An extract from "Golubeneji Moscovski" (Pigeons of the Moscovites) by Count Alexeis Scherbatov II; Petrehof, 1906

Translated from Russian, July 1998 by Tatiana Nicolaevna Scherbatova at  Merlin, Oregon

At Gatchina, the Batiushka-Tsar Alexander Alexandrovich Romanova III kept his pigeons in a house like a small palace near a pond with some geese until his sad and surprising death in the Crimea in 1894.

These pigeons were named "Ostanski Golubi" and "Pokrovski" that he aqquired from his brother Grand Duke Vladimir Alexandrovich Romanova after watching them fly as the young Tsarevich at Tsarskoe Selo.

The "Ostanski Golubi" are a long beak race, white in color and with red flesh about the eyes like the "Indianski" (Barbs?) who are seen in courtyards and eat and drink from ladies' hands throughout Petrograd. These pigeons fly up in flocks of more than 50 and fly very fast. They have a love of their home and a devotion to their nestlings and have flown back from as far away as Saratov (note of translator: roughly 750 air miles) in two days and nights. During the war with Japan (1905), the Batiushka Tsar Nicholas Alexandrovich Romanova II issued a decree for the use of these pigeons for millitary communications between the warships at sea and Vladivistok, just as they were used in the time of Grand Duchess Olga of Moscow. (946-957 A.D.)

Old breeders tell the story that the Ostanski Pigeons had originally come from Persia and were seized from the Turkish Murderers when we drove them from the Caucasus.

The Ostanski are good nurses and the eggs of the many very beautiful courtyard pigeons are placed under them.

The "Pokrovski" are a small bird of a nearly short beak with large and expressive dark eyes. They are turn crowned (crested) on the back of the heads and above each eye the feathers form a small plume like seen on the foreheads of some of the drumming pigeons (Trumpeters). The neck is long and shaped like that of a swans' and trembles when the bird walks. The wings are very short and drag upon the ground and the tail is large with many feathers and flat and carried nearly vertical. The feet are feathered. The pigeons come in only one shade, which is the color of the daytime sky in the Summer and with two black ribbons like onyx on each wing and one on the tip of the tail. Altho the birds are very light colored, their skin is nearly black. (Trans: apparently refers to Ice factor birds)

The "Pokrovski" are a real courtyard pigeon and admired by ladiess who liken to them as small angels. The pigeons are very beautiful and tame as they bathe in fountains in the gardens at Gatchina and strut amongst Spirea, Roses and Lilacs in the suumer A splendid sight'. LiIke other courtyard birds they fly to the palace rooftops to bask in the sun and turn over backwards or sideways after make a loud commotion with their wings.

One old fancier, a man in Kazan named Tchaikov; tells me that the "Pokrovs" are a very old bloodline of pigeons that were bred in the time when Michael I was coronated. (Trans: Michael I was the, first of all Romanov Tsars and was coronated in 1613) These pigeons came from the town of Pokrov in the Urals and are strictly a Russian pigeons.

These pigeons are nearly extinct for the last  years and in 1883, Queen Victoria of Britain offered our Tsar a price of 500 rubels for one pair. She did not receive any Pokrovski, but was given a gift of other pigeons for her houses.

The Pokrovski that our Father Tsar kept at Batchina, came originally from an officer who brought them all the way from Ekateringrad as a gift for the sons of the Tsar~Liberator Alexander Nicolavich Romanova II. A most glorious gift'.

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