The Indian Mondaine
By Carl Schoelkopf
Little was known of the Indian Gola before 1900,
although the breed was referenced by Fazl, a pigeon fancier, whose words are
recorded as early as 1590. A wild field- pigeon of reasonably tame
disposition, the Gola was easily domesticated by farmers and field workers
in northern and central India.
The thrifty Gola became a valuable and economical addition to each
farmstead. During the daylight hours the flocks would range out gathering
grain spilled from the harvest as well as wild seeds. As they returned to
their roosting sheds in the evening, the Indian husbandmen would
occasionally supply them with heavily salted water to drink.
This would cause the Golas to regurgitate the grain they had gathered. The
keepers would gather the spilled, salty grain, wash it in fresh water to
remove the salt and sun-dry it the next day for use by other animals or even
for their own use.
Over the centuries of their development, the Golas often varied in size and
type due to cross-breeding and mixing of wild pigeons. For unknown reasons
the grizzle factor and tigering pattern became more strongly fixed in this
breed than in any other.
J.HW. Morgan, an Englishman employed in the British India Service before
1900, found the Gola to be handsome as well as a prolific breeder. Around
that time he imported some of these birds to Britain where he intended to
introduce them to the squabbing industry. Despite their medium size, Golas
produced a heavy poundage of squabs per year due to rapid and reliable
In 1901, W. Edison Kain of New York imported breeding stock from Morgan with
the same economic objective. Kain, however, was determined to grow them
larger by crossing in various large squabbing breeds already found in
America. He used Carneaus, Maltese, Runts, and French Gros Mondaines to
increase squab size and yearly poundage, while retaining the desired light
skin and continuing the prolific nature of the breed. Some crosses had to be
discarded because while the size was often increased, the other qualities
In the end, Kain produced a strain of black and brown
tigered and mottled pigeons which he called the “Indian Mondaine.” The cocks
ranged in size from 28 to 30 ounces and the hens from 25 to 28 ounces. They
were prolific and their squabs were approximately one pound.
Occasionally duns, reds and yellows with the same markings were found. In
some areas of the United States Swiss Mondaines were crossed in producing an
excellent squabbing bird, large in body and good in skin color and
disposition. They were mainly white with splash and mottle markings.
Always rare, there are not more than a half dozen breeders of Indian
Mondaines in North America, if that. In the 1950s, 60s and 70s, Hans Wetter
of Orofino, Idaho, was the primary booster of the breed. Running an ad
continuously in the American Pigeon Journal for years, Hans sold a pair or
two to curious fanciers and sometimes squab breeders would buy start-up
stock, but the Indian never really became a major breed in the industry.
Eventually as Han Wetter had to give up the fancy, Bob Sutherland of
Everett, Washington, bought out his stud of Indian Mondaines. Today Bob
continues to have the best stock of Indian Mondaines of the standard
established by Kain and later. Andrews of Los Angeles was also a dedicated
breeder of Indian Mondaines for many years. His Indians were heavy in Swiss
Mondaine blood and are a whiter pigeon. A few of his birds can still be
found in that area.
Sutherland’s Indians are a bit smaller than the Andrews type. They resemble
the original Gola in color and marking. They are often strikingly tigered,
beautiful pigeon to watch. It appears to be difficult for the Indian
Mondaine to hold its size as a squabbing breed. Without outcrosses to other
large breeds, they seem to return to the size of the parent Indian Gola.
According to Willard Hollander, the geneticist, the grizzle factor in the
Indian Gola is a very old and well-established characteristic. Over time it
seems to win out in all of the crosses. Fanciers have used the Gola to
introduce the grizzle factor into pigeon breeds where it was not formerly
Gentle and pleasant to look at, the Indian Mondaine is an easy keeper and
an energetic flyer. It is a very hardy bird, but like so many of our rare
breeds it is on the edge of extinction. If you plan to be in pigeons all
your life and have facilities for larger pigeons, you may want to consider
keeping a pair or two of Indian Mondaines. They will not disappoint you.
Carl Schoelkopf, North Road Loft, Redding, California…Rare Breeds Pigeon
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