Takla has to be by far the most popular breed in Turkey. These pigeons are raised for their performance throughout the country where other breeds tend to stay regional. The breed comes in many colors, and the plain head, mustached, rosed, crested or double crested head ornaments. Although, in recent years mottled and grizzled birds have been showing up they are frowned upon. White color is only acceptable in some formations; white self being one. White tail markings and to a degree white head markings are also considered to be traditional. I say to a degree about the white head because it really isn't a bald head marking (which is a rather new coloration in the breed). More like a monk pattern on top of the head and only in certain sub-varieties or I should say birds from certain regions.
Each bird is called by the names based on their coloration but they are known by their city of origin. The city they are known by is a good indication of what type of tumblers they are.
Several things measure quality of their performance:
As they are low flying birds, what they do in the air is clearly visible to the fancier (this is usually the reason for many to select this breed). Young birds tumble while flying straight and at one point start to do a combination climbing & tumbling but, the performance sought after is the dive towards the loft and just before touching the ground making a helicopter like climb towards the sky, legs stretched down like they are trying to touch the ground, head down forward between wings looking down and the body 90 degrees to ground vertical take off. Every two to three feet they tumble and keep going up. Some even add to it by spinning their body around them selves or moving their legs like they are riding an invisible bicycle while going up and keeping composure.
This performance, how high they fly, how fast they fly and if they like to be flown in kits or alone really depends on what type of takla they are, more precisely what region they are from. This is also applicable to their physical qualities. Their flight time varies based on what sub-variety they belong to and can range from most popular 2 hours of flying above the roof-tops to flying for 8 to 14 hours in heights where they disappear from eye sight.
Basically, the most important quality in this breed for the breeders is their performance. Color and shape comes secondary as it is in most Turkish breeds.
Performance is measured in local competitions. Since there is no established national pigeon club in Turkey arrangements for the competitions are done by regional clubs.
One of these competitions organized by a club based in the capital city Ankara has over the last few years taken the shape of a national cup, with the increased entries from other cities.
There are two basic competition styles. One is very similar to the most Western roller or tumbler breeds' competitions. Kit of minimum 4 birds flown and they are given 20 minutes of flight time. During this time all the tumbles are counted. At the end of the time limit breeder gets so many minutes to land his birds or the scoring is off. When all birds land and are in the loft total tumble amount is divided by the number of birds in the loft and breeder's score comes up. This style is not very popular and only used for certain type of takla breeds that only perform in the air not charging the coop.
The most popular competition is where only one bird is flown per breeder. This bird gets usually two hours of flight time depending on which city the competition is being held. During the flight time only tumbles counted are the ones performed after diving towards the ground and during the climb. Here, there are a few rules: For any combination to be counted the bird must dive at least below 2 feet from the ground and climb at least 10 feet. This is the minimum. Any combination that falls short of this is not given points. There are extra points given to birds that dive and sweep the ground with their tails, that end their dive and start their climb with a tumble and the ones that spin their body 360 degrees continuously during the climb between each tumble like a screw going up. Finally all climb combinations must end with a tumble. If the bird climbs after the last tumble and just lets go all the points for that combination is taken back. However, a slight gain of altitude after the last tumble (which is called the tie) and a small glide after it is acceptable.
Besides these, there is also a third kind of competition which is not for every one.
It is called "kapışma", literally means rumble or tussle and only the expert fanciers are allowed to participate in it. Participation is not dictated by an organization but all the fanciers in that region and there is no season for it, through out the year as long as the weather and the molting permits.
For this to take place a fancier has to challenge the one of the well known breeders. The fancier who is called upon has the right to refuse the challenge based on the qualifications of the challenger. He might say, before you come to me you have to beat this person who have lost to me. This is to prevent anybody challenging anybody. However, he may not deny so many challengers that make him look like he is just trying to get away from "kapışma". Lets say he accepted the challenge considering the challenger as a worthy opponent. At this time he has the right to decide what the stakes are. Because of this rule, this type of competition is not practiced by everyone. He might say if you loose you will turn over your loft to me or you will not keep pigeons for one year etc. or it might even be a sum of money. Regardless of what the stakes are the challenger has to accept it. Keeping in mind if he looses, he can not challenge the same person again for at least another year and until he beats everyone the winner of his last challenge has beaten before, to become a formidable challenger again. Hoping, he still has birds to continue with.
Competition takes two days. First day of the fanciers, depending on what order the challenged decides, goes to the others loft and selects any bird out of his loft, excluding un-trained young birds, sick or molting birds and females worming the nests. This bird the opponent selects is the bird that will represent the owner in the competition. Since the purpose of this type of challenge is to determine who is the master breeder, every bird in the loft must be in top shape. However, during the challenging period there can be an agreement made for each fancier to seclude so many birds out of this selection process. This is not very common since no body wants the spectators to know who is the weakest link in the loft because one of them might just be the next challenger.
During the selection process, each fancier try to select the best birds out of their opponents loft. One of the main reasons for this is to establish himself not just as the fancier with the best birds but also the best fancier. Also, this insures that he never hears "yes, you beat me but, really I have birds in the loft that could easily take your birds out, you just failed to pick them out". To make sure there are no questions some fanciers will show the bird they have selected to the owner and ask if this is one of his better birds. The answer usually is yes but, if there is bad blood between the two it might even be "yes it is a good bird but, you might want to select one that is not so good for you to have a chance". When the birds flown no point system is used. After watching both birds it is simply decided by the two fancier and a few other expert fanciers who had the better bird. This type of competition was by far the best entertainment for me as a child. The events that take place prior to the competition and the results were talked about for many months and sometimes for years becoming almost like legends. Rather execrated but always intriguing. How much more fun can you have raising pigeons?