Mosaicism in Seraphim

Mosaicism is the status of having more than one genetic population of cells in a single individual which developed from a single fertilized egg. This condition can be caused by a spontaneous mutation in a single cell in the early embryo that leads to the mutation being multiplied every time there is another cell division as the embryo develops. It can also be caused by less than robust DNA replication during cell division (mitosis) so that some genes become inactive or are left behind. Mosaicism occurs easily due to the millions of cell divisions and possibilities for replication errors that occur during the development of an embryo. In fact, 70-90% of complex organisms (maybe all?) are affected by mosaicism.

Mosaicism can involve any type of chromosome and its genetic apparatus. Some genetic changes are visible, and others are invisible. An example of visible mosaicism could be something as simple as a large birthmark where a single genetic change results in a population of skin cells that looks different from all of the rest. An invisible mosaic might have two or more lines of cells with genetic changes that result in slight variations in the molecular structure of the enzymes produced by the different cell lines. In most cases mosaicism does not lead to disabilities, but it sometimes can.

Last year I hand-raised a little runt of a baby Seraph that grew into a beautiful adult. As a juvenile it had the usual red Satinette markings, in this case lacewing/spot-tail. I didn’t study each feather, but it turns out that one of the tail feathers was not recessive red. When the bird molted into adult pure white feathers, she had a single perfectly marked tail feather in blue with a perfect white spot. Why did this happen? Sometimes mosaicism can happen in a very tiny patch of tissue – in this case in a single feather follicle. The cells in that follicle lost their functioning Seraph Color Gene Complex for some reason during embryonic development.

A year later I paired the Mosaic hen with the single spotted tail feather with a perfectly marked (pure white) Seraph cock. Their third baby was a wonderful specimen but had a large patch of brown mosaicism on his right wing-shield. Here he is below, still a baby, but showing a brown lacewing pattern in the shield of his right wing where the white-sides and recessive red genes failed to express. He has an entire segment of a wing that is missing the genetic machinery of the Seraph Color Gene Complex. I didn’t notice this when he was a baby as the drab markings didn’t register as being different from the surrounding recessive red feathers he had at the time. Now it is obvious. the bird to his lower right is the same age and has nearly complete replacement of red feathers in the wing shield with white as expected. The juvenile red tail feathers in both birds have yet to be replaced – that is NOT mosaicism.


The father of this bird has sired at least thirty offspring with another perfect white Seraph hen, none of which demonstrated color mosaicism, so the trait seems to have been passed down from the hen. Since this Mosaic appeared, two more have appeared in the same nest, each with a colored tail feather in the exact same position as their mother’s-colored tail feather. The hen and three Mosaic babies were taken out of the breeding pool. Seraphim are a product of careful inbreeding and have complex recessive traits. One can see how careful you must be to avoid genetic pitfalls that can ruin the color of an entire line of birds.


The only other Seraph mosaic I ever had was in 2009. I didn’t understand what he was. He was a beautiful and stunning bird. I sent him to California to a fellow near Sacramento. A year later he called me to tell me that the colored feathers contaminating the birds left wing did not disappear at the second-year molt. It was only then that I realized the colored feathers were brown, not recessive red, and would never disappear. At the time I advised him to breed the bird, as it was otherwise amazing and the standard opinion at the time was that mosaicism wasn’t necessarily inherited, but rather just a genetic accident. Well, that was wrong. A genetic accident – yes; a non-inheritable genetic accident – no.

The moral to this story? Watch very carefully for evidence of genetic abnormalities in your Seraphim and remove anomalous birds from the breeding program, whatever the fault. If a mosaic appears in your loft, it may just be a spontaneous mutation, but if a second one appears from the same parents you must conclude that there is a genetic issue with one of the parents and proceed accordingly.

David Coster

Hand Feeding Baby Seraphim

At some point this will happen to every Seraphim breeder – a situation will arise when a baby needs to be helped.

Seraphim are not attentive or nurturing parents to more than one youngster. So, you have to be prepared to have babies fostered or to hand-rear them in the house or to supplement them and assure they remain in good condition while in their loft nest. The result of this inattention is that even if both youngsters are being cared for, they tend to leave the nest too early. So, you’ll find them running around on the floor of the loft. The parents will still feed them down there and they will quickly learn to eat and drink, but since they can’t fly yet you’ll have to make certain there is food and water within reach for them on the loft floor.

Most of the time I figure if a new baby is too weak to make a go of it, then it’s best to just let nature take its course. However, there are a number of situations that can arise when perfectly healthy genetically sound babies that should be raised successfully by their parents won’t be. Examples: 1. Some parents always let the second hatchling perish, feeding only the first. This is so common with Seraphim that I think it should be considered a trait. So, pay close attention once the babies hatch. If the parents are the sort that feed only one baby, then baby #2 will be fed just a little the first four or five days and then ignored after that until it dies. If a pair does this routinely you should be prepared to put the second egg under foster parents or plan to handfeed baby number two as a matter of routine.  2. Young parents sometimes don’t quite figure out what to do for a round or two – they tend to get better at parenting as the years go by, so their first youngsters may perish unnecessarily due to inexperience. 3. An abrupt cold snap may place poorly feathered youngsters at risk of hypothermia in that narrow age gap of 7 – 14 days when quills are becoming feathers and the parents have stopped warming the babies routinely. 4. You may have eggs you want to hatch in an incubator for any number of reasons, though if foster parents are available that is always better.

Thankfully nowadays it is remarkably easy to manage a baby for the few weeks it takes to grow it up to weaning size, and if the conditions in the loft are otherwise perfectly safe the baby can be left right in its own nest to be tended by its parents while you help it out a little just once a day.


In the photo above are two babies. The baby on the left is a couple of days old. You can see that its little crop is full of crop milk. The baby on the right just hatched the night before. Its crop is still flat and empty. The parents fed both babies for three days, and then stopped feeding the second one. They are first time parents. At the same time, another pair in my loft pulled the same stunt with a baby that hatched the same day as this little one. Due to my busy schedule, I elected to pull both from their nests and hand-rear them in the house.

Keep on hand some Kaytee Baby Bird Formula – you can order it as a case of small containers or in a single big container from Amazon – as you never know when an emergency might arise. Decide if the threatened baby can stay in the nest or needs to be fully managed in the house. If it is secure where it is and is just being underfed, the best option is to leave it in the nest and supplement it daily with formula. The parent won’t care – just make it a quick in and out visit. Make sure you have a Toomey Syringe (70cc’s with a large tapered-tip, or an equivalent device) to feed it, as this will work for all babies from age 5 days and up. (Sets of syringes can be obtained from Foy’s and Spiegel’s Pigeon Supply stores, but they don’t necessarily have the larger size or tapered tip which is hands down the easiest to use.) An eye dropper and a smaller syringe with a smaller tip may be necessary for tinier babies, though usually there is no trouble for the first few days, and most have gotten through the tiny stage before feeding or weather issues arise. It is important that new babies get crop milk from their parents, as that aids in their immunity as well as populating their crop and gut with the needed microscopic organisms to aid digestion, so if at all possible, always let babies hatch under their own parents (or foster parents in some cases) and be fed for at least two or three days with crop milk before confiscating them for hand-rearing.

If you’ve left the neglected baby with its parents, keep an eye on the crop when you go out daily to give formula, as sometimes the parents will abruptly start feeding the baby again. If so, that’s great, but keep a watchful eye and check it daily. They are never as attentive to the second one as the first if they start with that pattern.

In the house it’s easiest to keep the babies in a regular pigeon nest bowl. I put a coconut fiber pad down, a paper towel, and then put the baby on top of it and cover it with fluffed Kleenex. If the baby is less than three days old it may need some supplemental heat, but after three days they generate enough on their own that simply keeping them covered is enough. They DO need to be touched, handled, and stimulated in order to grow up without neurologic deficits, as all babies do, so don’t feed them but otherwise completely ignore them. Rub their heads and backs when you walk by and talk to them. I keep a little furry stuffed animal in with small babies so they can burrow into something that feels vaguely alive. I think this is important. Once they are 8-10 days old this becomes completely unnecessary, as does covering them. They begin to get pretty lively and generate a lot of heat, so you have to keep freeing them up a bit.


On the right above is that same little baby from the earlier photo, along with its psuedo-sibling on the left. It’s just been fed, and the paper napkin changed. Both babies are very alert and content. They were banded a few days after this photo was taken. Below is a video of the same two babies at about three weeks of age demonstrating how quick and easy it is to feed baby Seraphim:

Once they are approaching a month old it’s time to get your hand-reared babies weaned. Leave a small bowl in their cage with a typical seed mix in it. They will automatically start pecking at it little by little, especially if you let them get hungrier between feedings. By four and a half or five weeks of age they can be put out into the loft with the other pigeons. I put them in a box in the corner, tipped on its side so they can run in and out. In this way they can watch and learn from the adult Seraphim how to eat from the feeder and drink from the waterer. The adults as a rule won’t harm them with this arrangement; in fact, they seem to behave as if they have concern for them and recognize they are babies. Just keep a close eye on them the first few days to be certain none of the adults are harassing them. Continue to feed them their formula once a day until you are sure they are eating on their own, either by direct observation or by palpating their crops to see if you can feel any seeds there. Keep a little bowl of water near their box and keep it refreshed daily. Generally, just keep a close eye on them during this period to make sure they make the transition.

David Coster



ORIGIN: 1986 East Moline, Illinois, in the loft of Anya (Anne) Ellis. Recognized by the National Pigeon Association in 1995. Recognized by the French National Pigeon Association (SNC) in 1997.

THE NAME: Seraphim (pronounced sara-fim) is a plural word. Seraph is the singular form of the word. It is correct to say, “I have one Seraph, but soon I will have 10 Seraphim.” There should never be an ‘s’ on the end of Seraphim.

GENETICS: Seraphim are recessive red or recessive yellow birds that molt to white because they stop producing pigment. Genetically they are Satinette-marked piebald birds that have color on the shield and tail. Juveniles that have color on other parts of the body will still turn white. The shield turns white because of the ‘white-sides’ gene (tested by Tim Kvidera). Research on why the tail turns white is ongoing. More than one gene mutation is involved and these genes can be separated from the white-sides gene. Since each colored juvenile feather that falls out is replaced by a white feather, it can take two molts for birds to become completely white. Birds hatched late in the season may not drop every juvenile feather due to the onset of cold weather.

OVERALL IMPRESSION: Adult Seraphim have the appearance of a white angel. They are statuesque and elegant. When stationing the head is held high, the tail low with the chest projected upward and forward. The frill is prominent and the wing butts are clearly delineated from the body. The flights rest on the tail and the back is smooth, lacking ‘sails’ in the covert feathers. The feet are covered with small feathers and a sweep of ankle feathers giving the appearance that Seraphim have white stars for feet. Hens will appear somewhat more delicate and refined than cocks.

The head is the most heavily weighted feature in judging Seraphim. The curve from the tip of the beak to the tip of the needle point peak is unbroken. The head is rounded and the beak is down set and large enough for Seraphim to feed their young. The eye is bull and the cere is unobtrusive and very light pink or almost white in color. There is a medium gullet that adds weight to the head. A convex and unbroken mane flows from the tip of the peak to the shoulder. Seraphim have a prominent chest frill.



COLOR: (10 points): Recessive red or recessive yellow that molts to white. Young birds will often retain some colored feathers until the second molt. This is not considered a fault in young bird competition since it proves birds are indeed young Seraphim. FAULTS: Failure to molt to white in two seasons. DISQUALIFYING FAULTS: Colors other than recessive red and recessive yellow that molt to white.

STATION: (15 points): Head held high, tail touching or nearly touching the ground. Elegant, with a clean, uninterrupted line from the shoulder to the tip of the tail. Graceful with flights resting on the tail. Shoulders are concave and the wing butts are held out separate from the chest and clearly delineated.  FAULTS: Refusal to station. The presence of “sails.” SERIOUS FAULTS: A duck-like stance with an elevated tail and an arched back. Flights consistently carried below the tail. A short, stocky body with rounded shoulders.

HEAD: (25 points): Graceful, rounded over the top of the skull, having a concave dip (swoop) between the top of the head and the tip of the peak. The back of the skull is visible and the tip of the peak is below the top of the skull. The desired “Apple” head results from adequate head height and a somewhat rounded skull. The light pink beak protrudes slightly beyond the frontal, but the setting of the beak is ‘down-faced’; the beak is small but strong and adequate to feed young.  A medium gullet adds mass to the head; a visible gullet MUST be present. FAULTS: Flat head (lack of a swoop), peak too high or too low, weak or thin beak, angular head. Head too short from front to back because peak and mane are underdeveloped so they do not stand far enough out from back of head. SERIOUS FAULTS: Skull too small so head is too small in proportion to body, egg shaped skull rather than round causing lack of skull height above the eye, skull too narrow, lack of skull height above the eye, pinched frontal, frontal too prominent, frontal too broad between the eyes (eyes should be visible when looking straight at the face.) DISQUALIFYING FAULTS:  Lack of a gullet. Beak too small.

PEAK: (10 points): Needle point peak that stands well out from the back of the head, and is separated from the head by a dip called the ‘swoop’. The tip of the peak is below the top of the head. FAULTS: Tufted peak, twisted peak, flat peak (partial shell crest), peak set too high or too low, lack of swoop (dip) between the peak and the head, peak set too close to the head. DISQUALIFYING FAULT: Shell crest.

EYE: (5 points): Bull (very dark). The cere is almost white. FAULTS: A faint light ring or faint light spots are minor faults. SERIOUS FAULTS: Pearl eye(s), orange eye(s), eye cere any other color than almost white.

FRILL: (10 points): Thick (dense), heavily ruffled, wide, long, prominent, with feathers turned in many directions. (A zipper frill is not the ideal). FAULTS: Too little frill, wispy frill, frill too short or crooked, frill that turns only to one side. A zipper frill is not the ideal, but it is preferable to a thin, wispy frill, or a frill that turns to one side only.

NECK: (5 points): The neck is medium sized, not thick. It broadens as it flows from the head to the shoulders. A medium gullet is necessary as it adds volume to the head and dignity to the bird. (Owl breeds all have a gullet.) FAULTS: An overly long neck. A too large, overly pronounced gullet in a relaxed bird. DISQUALIFYING FAULT: Absence of a gullet.

MANE: (5 points): A well developed mane should stand well out from the back of the head and flow smoothly from the tip of the peak to the shoulder in a convex, unbroken curve. The two sides of the mane should meet in a line down the back of the neck. The mane should appear symmetrical when viewed from the back.  FAULTS: A break in the mane. Undeveloped mane that makes the head appear short from front to back. Mane not a continuous convex curve when viewed from the side. Disorganized feathers that do not meet in a straight line at the back of the mane. No visible meeting line where the two sides of the mane meet. Mane not symmetrical when viewed from the back.

TAIL: (5 points): 12 feathers, slightly flared. Width 2.25 to 2.5 inches. Feathers aligned and touching each other, carried angled toward the ground. Tail should be long and touch or almost touch the ground.  FAULTS: Tail too narrow (too well closed). Tail too open (fan shaped). Tail V-shaped or with twisted feathers. Tail held in an elevated position. Tail too short.

FOOT: (5 points): Each toe individually covered with tiny smooth feathers, giving the appearance of a glove with toenails protruding beyond the end. There should be a ‘sweep’ of ankle feathering that curves across the top of the foot at the ankle. These feathers should not be sparse, but they should not have the appearance of a muff. The glove feathers and the sweep feathers combine to give the foot the appearance of a white star. FAULTS: Too much ankle feathering so that ‘sweep’ feathers appear to be a muff. Too little ankle feathering (sparse sweep feathers or no sweep feathers). Loose toe feathering, too much or too little toe feathering (exposed toes). SERIOUS FAULT: A true muff is a serious fault.

CONDITION: (5 points): Clean, white, smooth appearance, firm feel, solid chest muscles. SERIOUS FAULTS: Dirty, thin, poor feather quality, loose feathering, lice, holes in the feathers.



Notes for Judges:  Foot, Eye, and Condition are all to be judged during handling; all other qualities are to be observed in the show cage. Some eye faults can only be seen during handling; the foot should be closely evaluated for feather nubs indicating the toes are not bare; the body must be felt for physical condition and feathers must be inspected for lice, holes, and dirt. Stress can alter the stance, feather tightness, and overall appearance of the bird, so they must be observed in a calm state in the show cage before handling in order to form an accurate impression of the bird’s actual quality. The back may arch in a stressed bird; the head may become boxy in a stressed bird; the peak may lower and become twisted or tufted in a stressed bird; a mane break may appear in a stressed bird. If a bird is stressed the Judge should come back to it once it has settled.

Written by Anya Ellis and David Coster

The SCI at Des Moines 2016

By David Coster

The Des Moines fairgrounds was once again the location for the SCI’s national club meet in 2016. Anya Ellis flew in from Connecticut to judge her own creation and see how this Rare Breed is coming along in the hands of other interested Fanciers. Seraphim are shown in the Rare Breeds section as a rule, but for the past couple of years the SCI has been able to put together a sanctioned club meet in Des Moines. We hope to be able to continue with a sanctioned show most years in Des Moines with the Iowa State Pigeon Association’s annual “Pigeons on the Prairie” show.

There were twenty Seraphim at the show, eleven of which managed to make it to the ranking of “Highly Superior”.


Above are the top designated Seraphim in The Seraphim Club International’s third-ever national club show, celebrating the 90th anniversary of the Iowa State Pigeon Association’s “Pigeons on the Prairie” annual combined show, with Anya Ellis, Judge and developer of the Seraphim breed. The winners are adorned by their various trophies and ribbons, tired after a long day of being poked and prodded and talked about. The ISPA Show had about 4,400 entries this year with lots of designated club shows, so the SCI was part of a very big scene!

The Seraphim Club International has since been featured on the front cover of Purebred Pigeon Magazine to represent the Pigeons on the Prairie Show. There is an accompanying article on page 38 for those who are interested. You can order the January/February 2017 edition of Purebred Pigeon Magazine on line here: to read more about it!

SCI Show Judges

Seraphim are shown and judged with the Rare Breeds unless SCI members have organized a sanctioned meet through the SCI. 

It is assumed that all Judges serving The Rare Breeds Pigeon Club are competent and capable of properly evaluating Seraphim in the Show hall. Seraphim can, however, be a challenge to evaluate properly and some Judges may be relatively unfamiliar with the breed,  so all Judges must review the Seraphim Show Standard and keep a copy of it on hand when judging Seraphim.  

SCI members organizing a sanctioned SCI meet for points should aspire to acquire a Judge with special expertise and interest in Seraphim. The Judge will be expected to follow the rating system and assignment of awards and points as outlined in the SCI Constitution.

(Updated 11-24-16)


The Development of the 2017 Seraphim Standard – A Brief History and Visual Comparison

The Show Standard for a Seraph. Substantial changes in not just color, but form.

The 2009 Show Standard for a Seraph. Note the skull shape, the depth of the swoop, the arc of the skull, the depth and line of the mane, the downturn of the beak, and the prominence of the gullet. Compare to the new standard below.


Anya Ellis’ depiction above of the ideal Seraph, 2017, is a notable accomplishment. The modern Seraph is different than the Seraph of the past in subtle but significant ways, with changes particularly evident in the head. Seraphim primarily compete in the Show Ring as birds of structure, both of body and feather. The new painting demonstrates the regal upright posture and the long, flowing line demanded of all Seraphim. It also demonstrates the more deeply feathered mane, the deeper swoop leading to the needlepoint peak, and the unusually long and full frill expected of the 2017 Seraph. The deeper swoop is the result of a combination of changes in feather and form: longer feathers in the mane and a rounder, larger skull with a higher skull arc in the top and back. The beak is definitely “down-faced”. The gullet has to be readily apparent.

Carefully compare the new Standard to the “old” 2009 Standard above it and pay particular attention to all components of the head and neck. To the trained eye the changes are obvious even though subtle. This look is the new goal for serious Seraphim breeders.

The 2017 Standard has been in development since the SCI Club Show of 2013, at which time a long range discussion was begun about the skull and the ideal of the “apple-headed” Seraph, a trait highly desired but difficult to create. Discussion also surrounded the concept of the “frilly” Seraph vs. the “physical” Seraph, i.e. what is the proper balance of feminine frilliness versus masculine physicality and power. The androgenous appearance of the Seraph is the result of the tension between the two selves – the masculinity of physical power, form, and stance and the femininity of long feather, frills, and softness. Ideally both sexes carry a perfect balance of masculinity and femininity. If the feminine frilliness and long feather is overpowering, the bird is beautiful but looks weak; if the powerful masculine form is overpowering and the feathering too short, the feminine effect of the frilliness is lost, along with the androgeny the breed is expected to demonstrate. In Seraphim, artistic balance is paramount. A perfect Seraph should be a delight to the eye and should elicit an emotional response from the viewer. The bird should give off an aura of delicate power.

This typey Seraph is a challenge to create, but it is a worthy effort, and certainly possible, as evidenced in the past decade by the many examples of Seraphim meeting this new Standard when The Seraphim Club International hosted its regional/national club show at the “Pigeons on the Prairie” competition sponsored by the Iowa State Pigeon Association in Des Moines. (Please see individual Show Reports under “News.”)

David Coster

2014 National SCI Meet, Des Moines

The second District 5 (Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota) SCI club meet was held on Saturday, December 13, 2014, at the State Fairgrounds in Des Moines, Iowa, under the auspices of the Iowa State Pigeon Association. (Pigeons on the Prairie.) This meet was also a National Meet for the SCI according to the SCI Constitution, and exhibitors from across the nation are encouraged to enter Seraphim at this show. Seraphim are designated members of The Rare Breeds Club due to their small numbers, and the SCI is an affiliate of The Rare Breeds Club. Des Moines is the only current location where the SCI sometimes has a concomitant show adjacent to The Rare Breeds Club show. At all other locations across the country, Seraphim are enrolled in and compete in The Rare Breeds area.

Eighteen Seraphim were entered by four exhibitors, with Mary Ann McNeill of Iowa winning the Grand Champion trophy and David Orth of Kansas winning the Reserve Champion trophy. Mary Ann also won trophies for Best OH and OC, and David also won trophies for Best YH and YC.

David Orth (Kansas) and Mary Ann McNeill (Iowa) with their show-winning Seraphim and Anya Ellis. Grand Champion (middle; Mc Neill), Reserve Champion (right; Orth)

David Orth (Kansas) and Mary Ann McNeill (Iowa) with their show-winning Seraphim and Anya Ellis. Grand Champion (2nd Seraph from left; Mc Neill), Reserve Champion (far right; Orth)

The Seraphim Club International at Des Moines

(As published in Purebred Pigeon magazine, Jan/Feb 2014, with new edits in November 2022, to keep current.)

Seraphim remain on the Rare Breeds List as an uncommon variety, with a few dedicated Fanciers across the United States seriously focused on maintaining and improving this relatively new breed. The Seraphim project, started by Anne (Anya) Ellis in 1986, was intended to create a “Classic”, an artistic vision that once achieved would remain unchanged over time.

Yet Seraphim have changed significantly since 1986, and from the original Standard of Perfection of 1993, and their first exposure at a National Show at Salt Lake City in 1996. Several iterations of the Standard were developed as it became clear what was artistically and physically possible through selective breeding, with a “final” classic Standard rendered in 2009. Still, some minor delicate enhancements have occurred since then, and what Anya ultimately believes to be the final “final” was completed in 2017, an ultimate Standard of Perfection based upon real-life experience in the loft that includes subtle changes to the head, swoop, peak, mane, and feather length. The end result is dramatic and beautiful, powerful yet delicate, alert yet peaceful, dignified but intense – and possible in real life for the dedicated Fancier.

So, to celebrate this milestone in the history of Seraphim, the SCI decided, for the first time in its eleven-year history, to sanction an independent Seraphim Club International Meet in Des Moines with the Iowa State Pigeon Association, and in affiliation with the Rare Breeds Pigeon Club. Not only that, the SCI decided this should be their first official National Meet for Seraphim. For such a special occasion, the Club had to do something a bit different than the normal routine and focus strongly on new education for exhibitors to include what is expected of today’s Seraph as well as the history, vision, art, science, and philosophy behind Seraphim. Anya agreed to be the Judge and dedicate herself to a day of intense interaction with the exhibitors. What could have been a 90-minute-long task of judging instead became a five-hour marathon of education, with all exhibitors watching, listening, and asking questions as Anya went from bird to bird explaining every detail of what makes a great Seraph and what doesn’t, pulling information from many fields to paint a picture of the ultimate Seraph for the group. It was by far the most useful and fulfilling experience any of the exhibitors present ever had at a pigeon show – and exhausting! But at the end of the day, everyone understood the task before them, and exactly why their Seraphim did or did not meet the Standard of Perfection, and they understood the difference between the 2013 Seraph and the 1996 Seraph. Everyone left the show tired but newly energized. 

In keeping with the significance of this first-ever event, the SCI decorated the final judging area with white feather boas, an enormous canister of colorful holiday ornaments, and an award-winning wood carving of a Seraph done by Clark Weaver of Grinnell, Iowa. Exhibitors were present from Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, and Minnesota, and there were thirty-five entries for the show. Those awarded points for “Highly Superior” Seraphim included David Orth of Kansas, Judy Miller of Missouri, and David Coster of Iowa. Mary McNeil of Iowa had a last- minute complication that prevented her from showing any birds that would no doubt have won points too.

Anya Ellis with her creation. From the right, Best YH, Best OH (Champion), Best YC (Reserve Champion). Best OC 5th from right; all others were finalists for Best OC

Anya Ellis admiring her creation. From the right, Best YH, Best OH (Champion), Best YC (Reserve Champion). Best OC 5th from right; #’s 4, 6, 7, and 8 from the right were finalists for Best OC

I believe the highlight for Anya Ellis may have been awarding the Champion Seraph title to a hen instead of a cock, but then again it may have been the surprise and thrill of seeing so many well-bred Seraphim under one roof from which to choose a champion, a real testament to her life-long dedication to creating the “Angel of the Pigeon Fancy.”

David Coster, Manager – Seraphim Club International

The Seraphim Club International Constitution


The purpose of the Seraphim Club International (SCI) is to promote, develop, and preserve Seraphim, the White Angels of the Pigeon Fancy.

Mission Statement:
The Seraphim Club International shall achieve its purpose by the dissemination of accurate information, continuous educational support of club members, support of sanctioned club shows, promotion of Seraphim within the Pigeon Fancy, and maintenance of a comprehensive website on Seraphim.

The club shall have an international scope that supports interest in Seraphim around the globe.

National Pigeon Association Affiliation:
The Seraphim Club International is affiliated with the National Pigeon Association as a declaration that the SCI is part of the American community of pigeon fanciers. Affiliation with the NPA is voluntary and is maintained by the payment of annual dues to the NPA.

Rare Breeds Pigeon Club Affiliation:
The Seraphim Club International is an Affiliate Club with the Rare Breeds Pigeon Club due to the “Rare” status designation of Seraphim. The Seraphim Club International maintains all the rights and responsibilities of its Affiliate status with the Rare Breeds Pigeon Club as designated in the Constitutions of both Clubs.

Membership is open to all those interested in the breeding, care, and maintenance of Seraphim. One does not have to own Seraphim to be a member; simple interest in the Seraph Fancy is adequate. Members are expected to adhere to the highest standards in their lofts and in Show competition.

The SCI shall have only a President and Manager. The President shall be Anya Ellis, the creator of Seraphim. The President shall provide guidance and expert advice to Members and support the Manager in his/her duties. The Manager is a volunteer position and shall be approved by the President to oversee Club operations, the website, the National SCI Meet, advertising, and other duties as seen fit by the President.

The Seraphim Show Standard

Please refer to the NPA Official Book of Standards or to The Seraphim Club International official website at for the complete up-to-date Seraphim Show Standard.

Competitive Meets

Introduction: Some Seraph Fanciers strive for recognition of their breeding programs via competitive Shows and Meets, and also use such meets to interact with other Fanciers and exchange ideas for the continuous improvement of the Seraphim Breed. Those who participate in such competitions may earn points toward a “Master” status within the Seraphim Club International. In order to be considered for the “Master” Award, a Seraph Fancier must accumulate a total of 500 points in competitive meets, be a member of the SCI for five years, and be a member of the SCI at the time of application for the award. (**See the section below on Master Award Point Scales for details on the awarding of points.)

Basic Show Rules: Seraphim are on the Rare Breeds List. In the absence of an organized SCI meet, Seraphim must be shown in Rare Breeds Pigeon Club meets or in the Rare Breeds section of any regional/state/national meet according to RBPC Rules. The Seraphim Club International may also sanction official independent SCI meets or hold Joint Meets with the Rare Breeds Pigeon Club. Members of the Seraphim Club International who want to organize an SCI meet may do so and request advice/support from the SCI. To qualify the meet for Master points, the SCI Manager must be notified. The Judge must be an SCI or RBPC Recognized Judge. SCI Meets require a minimum of 2 exhibitors and 10 birds. The Seraphim Club International has designated Des Moines, Iowa, as the location for the annual National SCI Meet, in conjunction with the annual December Iowa State Pigeon Association Show, and as an Affiliate of the Rare Breeds Pigeon Club.

Judging: Judges must be expert in the method of evaluation of the nuances of the breed as well as the methods of rating and assigning points. The approach to judging Seraphim is outlined in the standard in both the 2010 NPA Book of Standards and on the SCI website.

Recognized Judges: A list of Judges specifically qualified to judge Seraphim will be maintained on the SCI website. The Rare Breeds Pigeon Club will also maintain a list of Judges qualified to fairly evaluate all Rare Breeds, including Seraphim.

Rating System and Classes:

The SCI uses the Individual Merit System of judging. The Individual Merit System of judging is an evaluation system of each individual bird in comparison with the Standard of Perfection, followed by a final Judging of the best from each Class for special awards and trophies. The Classes are Old Cock, Young Cock, Old Hen, and Young Hen. (Young applies to birds one year of age or less.)

****The highest possible rating is called “Royal” and shall be designated in show reports by the letter “R”. This rating shall be reserved for those Seraphim which are near letter perfection in all respects, and equates with a point score of 98-100 on a 100 point scale system. This rating should not be given in shows where the exceptional bird is not found. The Royal rating is an award of absolute superiority.

****A “Highly Superior” rating is given only to outstanding specimens with a point score of 94-97 on a 100 point scale; such birds typically demonstrate a single minor fault. Birds in this category shall be re-grouped to compete for a Royal rating (though possibly none may qualify). When more than one bird earns an “HS” in a show, the Judge will place the HS birds in order by labeling them HS-1, HS-2, HS-3.

****The majority of fine show birds will receive a “Superior” rating, designated by an “S”, and equivalent to a score of 90-93 on a 100 point scale. Birds that are of show quality, but have a couple of minor faults shall receive this rating. “S” birds may be ranked as S-1, S-2, S-3.

****Birds with a score of 80-89 on a 100 point scale are rated “Good”, which is designated by the letter “G”. “Good” birds may be useful as stock birds for breeding purposes. Out of condition birds may be placed in this class. If the top birds in a show are “Good”, they shall be ranked G-1, G-2, and G-3.

****The last and lowest class shall be known as “Inferior” and shall be designated by the letter “I”; this designation equates to a point score of 79 and below on a 100 point scale. Such birds may be disqualified from competition and are not recommended for breeding purposes.

Basic Rules: Points may be awarded only to Seraphim owned, bred, or raised by the individual competitor. Only Seraphim rated as Highly Superior (HS) or Royal (R) may be awarded points in competition. Additional points may be earned as the HS or R Seraph is given additional awards, such as “Best AOV”, Champion, and Reserve Champion, as the judging continues. Points are additive. SCI Meets must have at least two exhibitors and ten birds to qualify as a point meet; RBPC Meets may have any number of exhibitors and Seraph entries.

Point Scales: There are four point scales used in the Master Award program: two for RBPC (Rare Breeds Pigeon Club) meets and two for SCI (Seraphim Club International) meets. The point scales may be diminished in RBPC Meets at the discretion of the Judge if the number of birds is small or competition poor (see below). The SCI will honor both RBPC points AND SCI points when considering the SCI Master Award. Points will be added by the SCI toward the designation of “Master” at an RBPC meet if the competitor applies for the SCI Master Award.

Champion Seraph                  50 points
Reserve Champion Seraph   30 points
Royal Seraph***                  25 points
Highly Superior**                    3 – 10 points

Champion Seraph                    40 points
Reserve Champion Seraph     20 points
Royal Seraph***                   15 points
Highly Superior**                      3 – 10 points

* All SCI Master Point Meets must have a minimum of two exhibitors and ten Seraphim. The Judge must be expert on Seraphim, with no entries in the competition.
** Highly Superior – If there are 3 or more HS birds in an SCI Meet, HS-1 shall earn 10 points, HS-2 shall earn 8 points, HS-3 shall earn 5 points, and the remaining HS birds shall earn 3 points.
***Royal is an exceptional accomplishment and must be awarded additional points.

Champion Rare                         1+25+50= 76 pts       (51 pts – if less than 10 AOV’s)
Reserve Champion Rare          1+25+15= 41 pts       (16 pts – if less than 10 AOV’s)
Best AOV****                             1+25= 26 pts             (1pt – if less than 10 AOV’s)
Best of Breed***                        5                                 (5 pts (1pt – if less than 10 Seraphm)
Highly Superior**                       1pt                              1pt

Champion Rare                         1+15+ 25= 41 pts       (26 pts – if less than 10 AOV’s)
Reserve Champion Rare          1+15+10= 26 pts         (11 pts – if less than 10 AOV’s)
Best AOV****                             1+15= 16 pts              (1pt – if less than 10 AOV’s)
Best of Breed***                        5pts                             (1pt – if less than 10 Seraphim)
Highly Superior**                       1pt                               1pt

*** RBPC’s “Best of Breed” – The higher number of points are awarded if 10 or more Seraphim are entered in an RBPC show and if the bird winning “Best of Breed” has earned an HS rating or higher.
**** Seraphim are in the AOV class on the RBPC list. The higher number of AOV Champion points are awarded if there are 10 or more birds in the AOV class and the winning Seraph has earned an HS rating or higher.

Master Award Member Responsibility
Members wishing to achieve the Master Award are responsible for maintaining a record of points awarded. Once the goal of 500 points has been achieved, the member must send a complete summary to the SCI Secretary. The summary must include the band numbers of all the member’s birds awarded points, the number of points awarded in each case, the listing of awards, the location and date of the Show at which the points were awarded, the type of show (State, District, National, Local; SCI or RBPC) and the name of the Judge. The Member will then be issued a Master Award certificate from the Seraphim Club International to be displayed in their home or Loft.

The SCI’s Philosophical Stance

The Seraphim Club International recognizes that not every member is interested in competition or even recognition in the Seraphim Fancy. Many simply enjoy the artistry and beauty of their Seraphim while quietly making major contributions to the Fancy. Such individuals may be the most important Members of all, as their methodology reflects the quiet reflection one must maintain to truly appreciate and understand the Seraph as a work of art. The SCI is truly grateful for the contributions of these quiet members.

It is also important to note that the SCI is a service organization rather than a political one. As such its primary interest is in the promotion of the enjoyment and pleasure of breeding and raising beautiful Seraphim.

Finally, it is worth noting that the goal of the Standard of Perfection for Seraphim has always been to create a Classic breed, one that demands no additional artistic improvement or refinement from the artist’s concept. The Standard has thus only been gradually and ever-so-carefully modified to fully reflect the genetic potential to create what the artist always imagined possible in a living entity. The Standard for a Classic breed, once established, should remain unchanged over time, not altered or modified on a whim or sudden fancy. The Seraph Fancier must always take this into account when breeding toward the elusive Royal Seraph and must always remain dedicated to the artistry of the Breed above all else, thus maintaining the Classic status of this beautiful living sculpture for the enjoyment of generations to come.


The Uniqueness of the Seraph: Most pigeon breeds were created over a period of years by a group of breeders. These breeds fall into two categories. (1) Breeds that are recognized as classics, whose standards do not vary. These standards define a final work of art and continue to be challenging for all breeders to achieve. (2) Breeds whose standards are always changing according to the tastes of those who are breeding them at the time.

There are only a few pigeon breeds that were created by an individual. Seraphim fall into this very small category. Each of these breeds is understood to be the ‘work of art’ of the person who designed the breed, for example: John Lindley designed the Indian Fantasy, Layne Bowles designed the Heart Pigeon and HP Macklin designed the Saint. Seraphim were created by Anne Ellis in East Moline, Illinois, USA. The ancestral breed of origin was the Classic Oriental Frill.

The first proposed standard for Seraphim was published in the National Pigeon Association’s 1993 “Encyclopedia of Pigeon Standards”; Seraphim were recognized by the NPA as an official breed of fancy pigeon at the Oklahoma City NPA Grand National in 1995. The second Standard for Seraphim was published in the French National Standard book in 1997. In 2000 the third Standard for Seraphim was published in the National Pigeon Association’s “Encyclopedia of Pigeon Standards”; the fourth Standard was updated in 2009 and published in the “2010 National Pigeon Association Book of Standards”. The 2017 standard is published in the most recent NPA Bood of Standards and on The Seraphim Club International website at

Breed History: 1986 – Anne Ellis visits Bob Pettit and has her first lesson in pigeon genetics. Since Bob mentions that one of Anne’s blue Old Frills is ‘carrying red’, Anne prays for red babies from that bird and its brown mate.
1986 – Two red babies are born in the blue X brown pair’s first clutch. The father later died, and the mother was given away due to wildness. Both of their red babies turned pure white with their first molt. These birds, both of which were males, are the original source for the “Seraph Color Gene Complex” and are the progenitors of the modern Seraph.
1987 – One of the males, paired with a Silver Old Frill hen, produces no recessive red babies. The other male, paired with a brown Old Frill hen, produces one recessive red male that turns white.
1988 – One male and one hen are produced. Both are recessive red and both turn white.
1989- Three Seraphim are produced.
1990 – Nine Seraphim are produced.
1991 – Forty-five Seraphim are produced.
1992 – Sixty Seraphim are produced. Bob Pettit tells Anne that for Seraphim to be recognized as an official breed, a written standard must be presented to the National Pigeon Association. Frank Barrachina encourages Anne to write the standard and agrees to have it included as a proposed standard in the NPA “Encyclopedia of Pigeon Standards.”
1993 – A proposed Standard for Seraphim is published in the NPA “Encyclopedia of Pigeon Standards.”
1993 – Ten Seraphim are displayed by Anne Ellis at the NPA Grand National Show in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Ten Seraphim (five male and five female) must be exhibited at the NPA Grand National for three consecutive years before the NPA Board of Directors will consider recognition of the breed.
1994 – Ten Seraphim are displayed by Anne Ellis at the NPA Grand National Show in Portland, Oregon.
1994 – Seraphim are introduced to the fancy pigeon world via two American pigeon magazines. Seraph OC # 341 appears on the cover of the April edition of the “Pigeon Debut” and Anne Ellis’s article, “A Great Grand National for the New Kid on the Block” is printed inside. A full page of color Seraph photos and “That’s What It’s All About”, by Anne Ellis, are published in the April edition of the “Pigeon Fancier.”
1994 – Seraphim are included in the NPA “Wonderful World of Pigeons” coloring book. Drawing by Diane Jacky.
1995 – Ten Seraphim are displayed by Anne Ellis at the NPA Grand National Show in Oklahoma City.
1995 – Anne Ellis makes a presentation to the NPA Board of Directors detailing the history, genetics and increasing popularity of Seraphim. The NPA Board of Directors votes to recognize Seraphim as an official breed.
1995 – Four Seraphim, exhibited at the NPA Grand National, are sold to Gottfried Ernst, who imports them into Germany.
1995 – Two articles written by Anne Ellis are published in the “Pigeon Fancier.” “Thanksgiving in January” covers the recognition of the Seraphim by the NPA (May issue). “Judges Beware” covers Seraphim judging techniques (November issue).
1995 – Raul Delgado’s article, “The Seraphim and Me” is published in the “Pigeon Debut.”
1995 – Harold Jones’ article, “The Seraphim and Their Angel” is published in the “Pigeon Fancier.”
1996 – Seraphim compete for the first time in an NPA Grand National (Salt Lake City). Seraph // OC # 262 wins Grand National Champion Rare.
1996 – Seraphim are featured in the German magazine “Deutsche geflügel Zeitung.” (article by Anne Ellis, translation by Frieda Lind.)
1996 – Seraphim are featured on the cover of the French pigeon magazine, “Columbiculture.” (article by Anne Ellis, translation by F. Xabada.)
1997 – Seraphim compete in the NPA Grand National (Lancaster) and four birds are purchased by Gottfried Ernst for a second importation of Seraphim into Germany.
1997 – With the help of Jean-Louis Frindel, the standard for Seraphim is included in the French national pigeon association (SNC) standard book.
1997 – Seraphim are featured in the Dutch magazine “Avicultura.” (article by Anne Ellis, translation by “Avicultura”)
1998 – Two articles by Anne Ellis are published in the “Pigeon Debut” Rare Breeds Special Edition. “It’s Greek to Me” covers the vocabulary needed to describe Seraphim and “What’s in a Name” deals with the intricacies of the name, Seraphim.
2000 – Seraphim are exported from Illinois to Gabriel Thomas in France.
2000 – The Seraphim standard is printed in the 2000 edition of the National Pigeon Association’s “Encyclopedia of Pigeon Standards.”
2000 – Seraphim are exported from France to Belgium.
2001 – Seraphim are exported from France to Czechoslovakia.
2001 – Seraphim are featured in the Czechoslovakian magazine, “chovaltel rádce.” (Article by Jerry Sindelar, based on interview of Anne Ellis.)
2002 – Attempt to export Seraphim from Illinois to Belgium fails due to New Castle outbreak in California.
2002 – The SERAPHIM CLUB INTERNATIONAL is founded by Anne Ellis.
2003 – Seraphim are exported from Germany to Denmark.
2003 – Seraphim are exhibited by Maurice Denis of Belgium at the German National VDT Show in Cologne, Germany. Anne Ellis makes a speech about the Seraphim at the VDT conference. Seraphim are exhibited by Rene Dautel and Jean-Pierre Demuyter at the French National SNC Show in Chambery, France. Anne Ellis makes a speech on the pigeon fancy and the Seraphim at the SNC banquet.

2010 – The website “” was established as an encyclopedic source of information on Seraphim.

2013 – The first ever “National” Seraphim Club International club meet was held in Des Moines

2013 – “Seraphim – Does Color Matter?” by David Coster (SCI Manager) was published in the May/June edition of Purebred Pigeon Magazine, pp. 50-52.

2013 – “Evaluating Seraphim for Show Qualities” by David Coster was published in the July/August edition of Purebred Pigeon Magazine, pp. 54- 58.

2014 – “In the Blink of an Eye” by Anya Ellis and “Observations on Seraphim Behavior” were published in the January/February edition of Purebred Pigeon Magazine, pp.’s 60-63 and 80 – 81.

2017 – The Seraphim Standard of Perfection was modified and updated by Anya Ellis and David Coster and published in the NPA Book of Standards as well as on the website.

2017 – Anya Ellis and Seraphim were featured on the cover of the January/February edition of Purebred Pigeon Magazine after the 2016 SCI show in Des Moines. “The Seraphim Club International at the 90th Anniversary Iowa State Pigeon Show in Des Moines” by David Coster was published in the same edition, pp. 38 – 40.

2019 – “Seraphim” by David Coster was published in the May/June edition of Purebred Pigeon Magazine (Rare Breeds Issue), pp. 38 – 40.

Seraphim: Does Color Matter?

Seraphim are a white color created by a special set of color genes called “The Seraphim Color Gene Complex.”


The 2017 Seraphim Standard of Perfection as depicted in the new NPA Book of Standards. Seraphim are pure white as adults.

Based upon the history of how the breed was developed as well as test crosses, the color genes known to be present in Seraphim are: Recessive Red (or yellow), Satinette Piebald, White Flight, White-Sides, and some unknown genetic factor(s) connected to the White-Sides gene that also turn the tail white – “tail-whitening” genes. This gene combo is “The Seraphim Color Gene Complex.” As for visual color, Seraphim MUST at first be recessive red or yellow as juveniles, and the color distribution MUST be specifically in the Satinette pattern, i.e., colored wing shields and tail. The head, neck and body are piebald (white), along with the 10 primary flight feathers. The Satinette pattern does not have to be perfect in young birds (it is difficult to breed a perfectly marked Satinette), but the pattern must be apparent. With the first molt, red or yellow feathers are replaced completely with white (on occasion this may take two molts to get every red feather). Typically, a Seraph is pure white by 6 months of age.

Being in the Owl family and originating from the Classic Oriental Frill, Seraphim also have lots of structural mutations unrelated to color that vary from wild-type, including – but not limited to – grouse foot feathering, chest frill, needle-point peak, mane, gullet, and short beak. Other genes influence stance, feather length, and skull shape and size, which are all critical factors that differentiate Seraphim from other breeds. These traits are inherited with the influence of multiple genes and modifying factors and are significantly affected by careful (or careless) breeding programs. Seraphim look substantially different in form than their breed of origin due to highly selective breeding. The breeding program has significantly modified how the structural genes in Seraphim are expressed. Seraphim are today significantly modified from their original breed of origin.


The above old archival photo shows an early Seraph cock with his juvenile offspring. A couple of things stand out. First, this cock from the early years is noticeably shorter and stockier than the current standard and is not considered ideal by today’s Standard. Second, note the recessive red coloration in the baby, as well as the mismarked primary flights and neck feathers. Notice that the tail feather and wing covert feather tips are emblazoned with red. This six-week-old baby is mismarked and overmarked, but you get the idea; you can see that the underlying visual color pattern is Satinette Piebald. The discontinuation of pigment production occurs after juvenile feather formation. The juvenile markings may demonstrate the underlying presence of oriental frill stencil and/or toy stencil.

First baby out of NoBand and Snow. 2012. One month old.

The above 2012 photo of a rather petrified little Seraph demonstrates the Satinette pattern of the juvenile: red wing shield and tail, white everyplace else. Note that the pigment distribution is different in this baby, and muted compared to the other (may be dilute, i.e. yellow.) The red may be spread and pure, or it may be faint with just the tips of the feathers affected, or some pattern in-between as in this case, but it MUST be in this Satinette distribution. The Satinette markings are perfect in this baby – there are no mismarks in the white feathers of the body, neck, and head – but perfection is not required (only desired) in the juvenile phenotype (appearance), as long as the proper genotype (the necessary genes for the basic Satinette pattern) is present. You can see this baby is a “lace-wing, lace-tail” specimen now, but you won’t be able to tell that in five months when it turns white. With known Seraphim parents, the presence of the Satinette pattern in recessive red or yellow confirms the color pedigree of the young Seraph.

When the first molt is complete at 5-6 months of age, the young Seraph should be pure white – as demonstrated in the photo below of the baby from the previous photo taken at the Des Moines ISPA Show. The transformation to white in Seraphim due to the Seraphim Color Gene Complex is what is different about the white of Seraphim. There is typically no transition period; no gradual or progressive change to white over successive molts – it is immediate with the first molt. Sometimes a few red feathers will remain after the first molt simply because they weren’t replaced. Such residual red juvenile feathers will be replaced with white at the second molt or intermittently before the second molt.

A particularly beautiful young Seraph cock.

A gorgeous young Seraph cock. This is the baby seen in the photo above it, now a young adult shown at the Des Moines ISPA Show. It is an absolutely dazzling pure white after the first molt as expected. Not a red feather remains. Also notice how different in form this modern-day Seraph is from the much earlier Seraph cock in the first photograph of this article. This bird demonstrates the long line and regal statuesque structure expected of today’s Seraphim.  The feather ornaments are important. The frill is expected to be huge, as in this bird, and the peak must be a fine point, the mane must make a perfect line in the back, the swoop must be deep, and the toes must be finely feathered to the ends.

So, color and pattern matter, as does form. The Seraphim Color Gene Complex must be visually demonstrated in juvenile Seraphim, along with the expected structural attributes demanded by today’s Show Standard as the birds mature. This confirms the presence of a proper genetic pedigree in the juvenile bird as well as the adults that produced it. Introducing the Seraphim Color Gene Complex into a population of Classic Oriental Frills does NOT create Seraphim. The fine-tuned physical attributes that make a Seraph a Seraph are lost in the process, as is the personality, and the result is neither quality Classic Oriental Frills nor quality Seraphim – all the work of selective breeding is lost. The only way to assure Show Quality Seraphim is through the purchase of high-quality stock with a known pedigree, followed by a dedicated and scrupulous breeding program to maintain the genetic modifiers that affect structure.

For some, Seraphim are the most visually exquisite breed of Fancy Show Pigeon ever created. The decades long process to create their delicate, angelic, and regal appearance while yet maintaining a strong natural constitution was an arduous combined artistic/scientific endeavor requiring the input and help of many experts, including Doc Hollander. As the developer of the breed, Anya Ellis is in real-life an artist. Seraphim are, at the end of the day, not just a complicated genetic enigma. They are really living art designed to be a gorgeous addition to any loft.

David Coster

Editor, The Seraphim Club International