Katal breed can only be found in the Baklan, Çivril, Çal and Çameli townships around the city of Denizli. It is considered to be this area’s native breed and its presence in the area has been documented back to the time of Anatolian Seljuks. Breed is know with the names of "Katal - Katillik" in Denizli and its surrounding areas. The word Katal, in the same time is used to describe the structures built under the eves of roofs and the walls for the pigeons to live in. The word "Katillik" happens to be the way the word Katallık is pronounced in the local accent. Another name that is used for the breed is "Fesli" which describes the wide head crest the breed possesses. Katal happens to be the only domestic pigeon breed with 12 tail feathers and double oil glands according to our research.
Katal is known to be raised in approximately 60 villages and the towns of Çal, Çivril, Bozkurt, all located in the Baklan Valley. Last few years the farmers in the area has been moving to cattle ranching which proved to be dangerous for the Katal birds. Thinking the pigeon droppings getting in contact with feed and water of the livestock cause various illnesses, the ranchers have been exterminated Katals in large numbers. Traditionally Katal breed pigeons were kept in almost every house but for this reason today their numbers have been diminished tremendously. In the mean time the pigeon coops tend to be occupied by today’s more popular breeds.
It is possible to see all known colors in Katal breed. Katals carry a smallish body but relatively distinctive chest structure. They do not carry any form of muffs and are strictly clean-legged. They tend to be very active with a rather happy character that tends to be very docile towards humans. They are excellent parents as breeders. Katal birds have a natural resistance (or strength against) to common health issues seen in other breeds. Most Katals seen in cops today tends to be foster parents for other breeds and are not been kept for flight any more. While the members of this breed show a great affection toward man they can get aggressive when it is necessary to defend their nest. In these situations they will not hesitate to display their execrated aggressiveness to their keeper also.
Katal breed can be classified as a high-flier and average flight time consists of 2 to 3 hours. Local breeders state the possibility of increasing this flight time with different techniques. Birds do not respond to a dropper but land on their own. During the flight they show a rather spread out kit formation. Because of their flight style and frequent zigzags they tend to avoid hawks. Tumbling, rolling or spinning type of performances can not be seen in the breed. However, the sense of loyalty to their loft is rather developed in this breed; they will find their home with in a 100 km range very easily and being captured by another loft is not a possibility. Specific to this breed, the head crest can be flat or slightly curved; their forehead stands out forward compared to other breeds.
Red, yellow or white eye colors can not be found solid in Katal breed, instead they present them selves as a gradual coloring from the center of the eye starting with a white circle. Tail consists of 12 feathers. 14 tail feathers have been observed in members of this breed that was a result of a mix with another breed. We have also observed the narrowing of the “Festepe” (standard head crest form) and/or the ends getting close to each other to form a peak crest again in the mixed birds. The most distinctive quality of Katal breed besides the “Festepe” crest is the fact all members of the breed carrying double oil glands. Evidence of double oil glands can be seen in even the mixed birds: If the mix bird has a single oil gland, when looked carefully, where the second oil gland is supposed to be one can see a distinct line on the skin of the bird.
In the past village kids at nights in the light of the candles would test the fighting strengths of Katals with a ritual similar to cock fights. In this region Katals were kept in coops but mostly in Katals (structures built under the eves of roof top) for centuries. However, today mostly due to spread of ranching they are at a point of being forgotten. The only physically similar pigeon breed to Katals is the breed known as the Serbian High Fliers. Local resources and the publications of the clubs related to Serbian High Fliers states that the SHF’s ancestors came from Anatolia with the Turks and their original name was "Feslice - Feslije". Since there are many historical documentations on Katals being taken to that region soon after the Turks’ conquest of Kosova, this relationship between the two breeds needs to be dissected.
Some of the color formations unique to Hükâri (Known in the west as the Oriental Frills) can be seen in Katals. While the double oil glands can be found in some members of some breeds, it is just like the 12 tail feathers is a standard of the Katal breed. In this aspect the Katal breed presents itself as a unique member of the pigeon breeds family… These birds must be protected with in their original and unique qualities. Denizli Güvercin Evi Derneği (Denizli Pigeon House Club) according to its mission statement has been in effort to research and understand al qualities of this ancient breed. At this point the club has been working on the infrastructure of establishing an official breed standard and establishing events to promote the breed in Turkish Pigeon Society. Katal breed is one of our cultural heritages.
Note: DGE (Denizli Pigeon House Club) would like to thank the fanciers of Baklan, Çal, Çivril for all their help in our research, the co-founder of the TGYB (Turkish Pigeon Breeders Association) Uğur Kurt Gürsu, our president Niyazi Ertürk, our friends Cem Eryılmaz, Cüneyt Arıkan, Cihan Tanrıöğen, Doç.Dr. Hayri Ün, Önder Okumuş, Fırat Ekiz, Tezcan Akınlı, Uğur Bilgihan, Sinan Solaklar (İstanbul) and dear Mr. Frank Mosca (USA) who never seems to find our questions unimportant...
İskender DAMGACI - February 2009