Monday, January 31, 2011

Mighty T. Rex Killed by Pigeon Parasite?

Ker Than
for National Geographic News
September 29, 2009

After surviving countless battles, a giant T. rex was ultimately taken down by a microscopic parasite akin to one carried by modern pigeons, scientists say.

The finding is a new interpretation of multiple holes in the jawbone of "Sue," the largest and most complete Tyrannosaurus rex fossil yet found, which is on display at the Field Museum in Chicago.

Initially researchers had said the holes are bite wounds made by another T. rex. But most paleontologists now agree that the holes are too neat and smooth to have been caused by teeth scraping across bone.

In a new study, researchers instead propose that the holes are lesions made by an ancient version of trichomonosis, a single-celled parasite that infects the throats and beaks of modern birds.

Pigeons carry trichomonosis without suffering any symptoms. But the birds are common prey for falcons and other raptors, which then become infected and can also transmit the disease.

"There's a possibility that this disease is quite old," said study author Ewan Wolff, a paleontologist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

T. Rex Infection

Sue was discovered in 1990 in South Dakota. Although the dinosaur's sex is unknown, the fossil was nicknamed for the female fossil hunter who found the bones.

The 42-foot-long (12.8-meter-long), 7-ton dinosaur lived about 67 million years ago, during the late Cretaceous period.

In addition to the jawbone holes, the fossil shows evidence that Sue survived multiple fractured ribs, arthritis, and savage clashes with other dinosaurs to reach the ripe old age of 28.

How the huge dinosaur died, however, has been unclear. Despite Sue's multiple injuries, the animal seems to have lived with most of them for years.

In birds, trichomonosis causes inflammation in the beak and upper digestive tract, which makes feeding and even breathing very difficult.

Birds' bodies react by sealing off infected tissue, but over time byproducts from this immune response can damage bone, creating lesions.

Sue had about ten such lesions on her jaw, some of them large enough for a human adult to poke a finger through.

Based on the size and number of lesions, the team thinks Sue's disease was at an advanced stage and may have been so severe that the dinosaur starved to death.

Parasite Link

The researchers also found evidence of possible trichomonosis-like infections in two other tyrannosaurid species, Daspletosaurus and Albertosaurus.

Sue may have contracted the disease after having been bitten by another T. rex during a fight or by cannibalizing the infected bodies of other tyrannosaurids, Wolff said.

The finding adds a new twist to the evolutionary connection between dinosaurs and modern birds.

That's because parasites tend to evolve with their hosts, Wolff said. Since tyrannosaurids are among the dinosaurs thought to be avian ancestors, it wouldn't be surprising for the same parasite that infected tyrannosaurids to now infect birds.

Read more ...

Sunday, January 30, 2011


FBI Pigeons' list of famous people who were pigeon fanciers excluded probably the most important children's character of our time!

Sesame Street's Bert has a pet pigeon named 'Bernice', and Bert had several pigeon friends which were featured on Sesame Street T.V. segments.

Bert "Doin' the Pigeon" is a classic.

Follow the link to view some moments with Bert and Bernice.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Check List

Run the loft like a business and keep a running task and check list.
IE. worm treatment, bait traps, baths

Twenty words or less TCC Loft series 

Pigeons sniff their way home with right nostril

BBC Earth News
By Victoria Gill
Science and nature reporter, BBC News
Thursday, 27 January 2011

Pigeons can find their way home from hundreds of miles - an ability that fascinates scientists and has led to their use in carrying messages and even smuggling drugs.

The researchers used GPS tags to track the birds' journeys

Now, researchers in Italy, say they have shown how much the birds rely on one of their nostrils to "sniff" their way around.

The team report in the Journal of Experimental Biology, that pigeons with a blocked right nostril were unable to create the "map of smells" that guides them on their journey.

Homing pigeons are the domesticated relatives of wild rock doves , which have an innate ability to find their way back to their own nest over long distances.

The domestic birds are bred to fine-tune this capability, to help them find the loft they are raised in.

Previous attempts to unpick this remarkable navigational skill, by this team as well as other researchers, revealed that as the birds sit in their lofts they learn the directions from which odours originate.

The birds appear to construct a mental map of these odours; a map that is sufficiently accurate to guide them in the direction of home until they spot local landmarks.

Blocked nose

To investigate this further, the scientists plugged either the left or the right nostril of homing pigeons raised just outside Pisa.

They released the birds from Cigoli, 40km away, and followed the birds' return routes using GPS trackers.

Analysing the flight paths of the birds, Dr Gagliardo and her colleagues could see that pigeons that could not breathe through the right nostril took a more tortuous routes.

The birds also stopped more often than birds that had only their left nostrils blocked and took far longer to find their way home.

Other research has shown that pigeons are able to "sense" the Earth's magnetic field; giving them an internal compass that helps guide them.

But Dr Gagliardo says that odours are vital cues that allow them to "understand where they are with respect to home".

She told BBC News that odours sniffed through the pigeons' right nostrils seem to help the birds construct their "navigational map".

Read more ...

Friday, January 28, 2011

Colombia police catch drug-smuggling pigeon

18 January 2011

Colombian police say they have captured a carrier pigeon that was being used to smuggle drugs into a prison.

Pigeons have been used before by inmates

The bird was trying to fly into a jail in the north-eastern city of Bucaramanga with marijuana and cocaine paste strapped to its back, but did not make it.

Police believe the 45g (1.6oz) drug package was too heavy for it.

The bird is now being cared for by the local ecological police unit, officers said.

"We found the bird about a block away from the prison trying to fly over with a package, but due to the excess weight it could not accomplish its mission," said Bucaramanga police commander Jose Angel Mendoza.

"This is a new case of criminal ingenuity."

The pigeon is thought to have been trained by inmates or their accomplices.

Police said carrier pigeons had been used in the past to smuggle mobile phone Sim cards into the jail.

Read more ...

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Lofty Ambitions

A Celebrations feature, in the Barrie Examiner This Week, appearing Friday, September 27, 1996
Written by Donna Danyluk, Editor

This one and half page article was certainly a celebration as three generations of Rufenach's and several club members attended the interview at George's house on a beautiful September afternoon.

Getting to know the pigeons around you

Pigeons. Most people think of them as nuisance birds. As birds whose sole purpose is to make a mess on rooftops, cars and streets. To some people the poor pigeon has no purpose. And they aren't even good looking. I must confess that until recently I really never had a second, or first, thought about pigeons. That was simply because I had never really got to know one. I had dodged them as they flew over my head and walked through a gathering of pigeons, but I had never really spent much time with the grey-winged birds.

Then as fate would have it the opportunity arose to spend some quality time with a pigeon, my son named Peter. I bumped into Peter as my husband was carrying him through our front door. It seems the young racing pigeon had met some trouble while on route and wound up dodging cars on Highway 90, grounded with a broken wing. My husband dodged a few cars himself and rescued the bird who now sat in a cage, made out of two laundry baskets, in my spare room.

Not knowing much about pigeons I learned quickly. I learned that they splash their drinking water around, spray their seed everywhere and relieve themselves a lot. Just a word to the wise - if a pigeon's cage is not cleaned regularly a repulsive smell will soon permeate the air. I remember thinking to myself, "pigeons are not cuddly. They won't fetch a ball. There's not much you can do with a pigeon." At that point I put some music on and to my amazement I noticed the pigeon perk up as if he was listening. He then started to preen himself. He turned his head as if to listen to the music better. That is when I noticed that this bird had personality, something I didn't think pigeon's had.

After that discovery I began to take him out of his cage and let him sit on my shoulder, or head. I learned what he liked and didn't like. Once his wing had mended, thanks to the help of Aldergrove Animal Hospital, I gave Peter (who turned out to be a female) to Mike Taylor, President of the Barrie Racing Pigeon Club. It was through Taylor that I discovered a whole network of "pigeon people."

These people are fanatics about the birds, spend most weekends racing them and the rest of their spare time caring for and training them. George Rufenach is one of those people. For almost 40 years he's been a real pigeon person. He loves the birds and if you want to find out why please read his story on this page.

As for my pigeon, I don't mind saying I miss her little pigeon ways but I don't miss cleaning up after her - and I thought clumping kitty litter was bad. The next time you see a pigeon fly by, duck, and remember my pigeon prose.

George Rufenach

One of the province's best pigeon racers toils away in almost complete anonymity. George Rufenach's life has gone to the birds. You could say that right to his face and it wouldn't ruffle his feathers. That's because it's true. For almost 40 years, George has raised and trained racing pigeons. George's success with his feathered-friends has earned him the reputation as one of the best pigeon racers in the province. One look at his crowded trophy table and it's easy to see just how successful he's been (More than 100 racing trophies line the shelves and cover the walls of Rufenach's Alcona home). George's love for pigeons is also easy to see. He's had a passion for pigeons since he was a boy living in Germany. "I love them, that's all," said George "If you get hooked on them you can never break loose. It is like an addiction."

George Rufenach knows a good bird when he sees one.

Theres a special bond that develops between a pigeon and it's handler.

But in this case his addiction is a healthy one bringing him trophies, cash awards and much personal satisfaction in knowing that some of the best racing pigeons around are in his loft. Racing aside, George derives great pleasure from the daily caring and training of the more than 60 birds in his lofts. "A lot of people think pigeons are just stupid birds, but they are very intelligent," he said. "Every day you learn something new about them."

Tales have been told and retold about the cat that came back, but George has one about the pigeon that came back. He once took a young pigeon out to a training site approximately 60 kilometres away and released her. That was the last he saw of her, until the next year when she walked into his back yard. "It is something I will never forget as long as I live," said Doug Rufenach, George's son. "Here's a pigeon who couldn't fly home so it walked home."

That's not the only pigeon story the Rufenach's could tell you. Time and time again both George and Doug say they have been amazed at the loyalty, endurance and intelligence of these grey birds. "You can see them actually thinking," said George.

To train the birds George takes them to a site, lets them go and then returns home to clock their travel time. "These birds can fly 60 kilometres in a half an hour. Sometimes they have even beaten me home," he laughed.

Yet the skies can be a dangerous place for pigeons. The wild storms this summer have sent many racers off their course. In the air the pigeon's greatest enemies are falcons and hawks. On the ground, or in their loft, the biggest threat are raccoons. "If a raccoon gets in there he will just kill everything in sight," said Doug.

George is a member of the Barrie Racing Pigeon Club. It is a club whose members hardly ever meet because they spend every weekend at pigeon races. Mike Taylor is President of the club and explains why raising pigeons is so addicting. "When you are in the loft with the birds, all your problems are in the loft. You forget everything else that has happened that day and concentrate totally on the birds," said Taylor.

That's not a problem for George. Although age is slowing down his pigeon racing activities it hasn't quelled his passion. He's passed all his knowledge over to his son Doug - who's already hooked on the sport.  "If you stimulate the bird he will do anything for you. He will give you his heart," said George. And it would seem George has given a bit of his heart away too.

Caring and feeding for 60 pigeons is a full-time job for George Rufenach.

Raising and racing pigeons has been a passion for George Rufenach for the past 40 years.

Donna Danyluk is the Celebration Editor. She can be reached at (705) 726-6537 ext 248

Past sports promotions
Pigeon racing

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

'Give pigeon racing sport status'

Last Updated: Tuesday, 14 June, 2005, 06:01

Pigeon fanciers in north Wales have backed a call by MP Peter Law to make pigeon racing an official sport.

Pigeon racing is popular in many parts of Wales
Mr Law - the only independent Welsh MP - has tabled a parliamentary question to UK Culture, Media and Sport Secretary Tessa Jowell, asking for the pastime to be recognised.

If racing was classified as a sport, pigeon fanciers could be eligible to receive grants from sports councils.

At present, they are not allowed to apply for public funds available.

Grant hopes

Blaenau Gwent MP Mr Law said: "Pigeon racing is a long-standing cultural tradition in working class communities, but they get no funding at all."

Mr Law has previously raised the issue with the Sports Council for Wales and the Welsh Sports Minister Alun Pugh.

The MP's call has been backed by members of Rhos Social Flying Club, near Wrexham, who said the pastime deserved full recognition as a sport.
"It's the same as horse racing and greyhound racing"
Pigeon fancier Gareth Jones

Club members said the activity would benefit if pigeon fanciers could receive grants from sports councils, and it would help attract younger people to the activity.

Gareth Jones, 70, who has around 50 birds, said the activity should be placed alongside other sports involving animals.

He added: "I've been racing pigeons for over 60 years and this is my hobby.

"I'm living on my own and I've got nothing else in life - only the pigeons.

"It's a sport and I love it.

"It's the same as horse racing and greyhound racing."

Fellow club member David Hughes, who owns 60 birds, said pigeon racing was becoming an increasingly popular pastime and required great skill.

"There's an awful lot of work in pigeon racing," he said.

"I spent hours with my pigeons - the wife always knows where I am."

Read more ...

Past sports promotions
Pigeon racing

Saturday, January 22, 2011


A lot can be learned about the health of the birds by cleaning the perches and loft at day break.

Twenty words or less TCC Loft series

Friday, January 21, 2011

Always The Same ... Fed Much Too Heavy

It is not within every one's ability to feed pigeons properly, feeding the right mixture to bring them into condition, as well as to keep them in condition. Pigeons will not come in shape without the help of the fancier - and most fanciers are inclined to feed too much, and instead of form, the birds show the least desire to train, let alone placing themselves on the prize-lists. All feeding systems are good if practiced properly, and if one knows how to properly feed pigeons. There is no use in imitating people like Van Tuyn, Vanhee, Kempeneers, Vinois, and associates, if you do not have at your disposal, grains of the same quality; it is also important to bear in mind that we have not seen them feeding their pigeons, and just what their feed consists of! Feeding pigeons is, and always will be, an art. Take it from us that, next to quality pigeons, the feed plays an important role in the making of a Champion. All who read this, will have in their neighborhood a fancier who spends a good deal of money for excellent stock and who never does well in the races. In such a situation, many will feel that they have been cheated, and leave the sport sooner or later. Although they may have bought good birds from an outstanding flyer, they did not buy the fancier himself. We will submit a few examples of how Champions are concerned with proper feeding of their birds.

The late Martin Van Turn looked for the best grain at the mill. When he made his choice of certain varieties, for instance, corn, he took a sample home, checked it for its germination, and those with the highest rate of germination, he bought enough for a whole year. In this fashion, he never ran short of quality feed. Be concerned with the quality of your grains. Van Den Broucke from Wielsbeke buys only grains which smell good. He mixes his own - an unbelievably light mixture. His widowers, who are flown on the long distance, always have 25% barley in their mixture, together with corn, beans, wheat, milo, and peas. A tablespoonful is given in the morning and at night ... never more, never less.

It is hard to believe that birds which are fed such a light feed are able to perform such heroic deeds, for at this great loft, they have put forth some magnificent performances. Must we repeat that the Champion from Wielsbeke never will change his feeding system, and moreover, hates a mixture in which the barley is replaced by peas. The feeding system of Jos. Van Den Broucke also carries with it the fact that the birds never will be overweight and will always remain in good health.

With the Brothers Cattrysse, Cattrysse-Beuselinck, and Gerard Cattrysse in Moere, things were different.  For more than fifty years, they kept to the same type of feed. Everyone who visited the lofts had to acknowledge that, no matter the hour of the day, or the day of the week, there was always plenty of feed available in the hoppers. Their mixture consisted mainly of corn, beans, and wheat, for the breeders, widowers and youngsters. Many were astounded at such a method. Nevertheless, the Cattrysse Brothers were Champions, with the greatest accomplishments, over the years. Although many others have tried to imitate this system, they have never really hit the "Jack-Pot". The question will naturally arise: "Is it the pigeons, or the feeding system, which made the Cattrysse's such great champions?" Of course, the feed played a most important role, but it is a fact that their pigeons possessed super-class, and year after year they produced excellent results. And in 1968, the very same excellent results were once again turned in by both Houses of Cattrysse!

Taken from 101 methods
Part 1, third print
by Jules Gallez

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Vents

I like vents that are well up and into the body. In the best birds I have seen, it was difficult to even find the vents, they were up so high.

Taken from Widowhood Flying
by Mark Gordon

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Reading the Brains of Pigeons in Flight

The New York Times
Published: June 25, 2009

Ever wonder what goes on inside the minds of pigeons?

No? Researchers in Europe have.

Alexei L. Vyssotski of the University of Zurich and colleagues have studied the brain activity of homing pigeons as they fly over visual landmarks.

How homing pigeons find their way back to a starting point is not completely known. Studies have shown that the birds variously use the position of the sun and the earth’s magnetic field as a compass, and sense of smell and visual cues as navigation aids. But the use of visual cues has been difficult to study, because if a bird flies over a landmark and doesn’t change its course, it’s impossible to know whether the bird has not perceived the cue or is ignoring it.

The researchers developed tiny neurologgers, to record electrical activity in the pigeons’ brains as they flew. The birds also carried small global positioning system units to track position. By matching brain activity to location, the researchers could determine the effect of flying over a landmark.

The birds’ flights began over water, a relatively featureless environment, and then continued over land to a homing point. This enabled the researchers to determine brain activity as the birds reached the coastline and then flew over other landmarks.

They found that activity in both high- and mid-range frequencies occurred as the birds passed over a landmark. The researchers, who reported their findings in Current Biology, suggest that the mid-range frequencies are linked to the perception of visual information, while the high-frequency activity may be related to cognitive processing — perhaps the recognition of a landmark as something the bird has seen before.

The researchers also observed strong brain activity at two rural locations where there were no significant landmarks. On visiting the sites, the researchers found that both had colonies of wild pigeons, which was probably what caught the homing pigeons’ interest.

A version of this article appeared in print on June 30, 2009, on page D3 of the New York edition.

Read more ...

Monday, January 17, 2011

Pierre Dordin

The National congress at Vincennes. General Marty congratulates Pierre Dordin to whom he has presented the cup for Champions of France 1952.

Dordin best described by Tim Lovel "Dordin's keen enquiring mind, his tenacity of purpose, his scientific training and his passionate search for justice drove him on to his meticulous enquires". Best known for his successful flying and breeding loft, Pierre Dordin continually asked why, and produced his own scientific studies on racing pigeons.

Personalities that have made a difference in the world of pigeon racing

Picture taken from Pierre Dordin The Complete Fancier
by Dr Tim Lovel

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Wayward N.S. racing pigeon now missing from N.B.

August 22, 2009

A wayward Nova Scotia racing pigeon that defected to New Brunswick over the weekend is now missing.

The white pigeon - known as Pigeon number 21368 – was released Wednesday, south of Moncton, and should have made its way back home to Truro within hours.

But as of Thursday afternoon, nearly 24 hours later, it still hadn't arrived, said owner Dan Archibald. He’s not worried though.

“If they get thirsty they will go down and get a drink of water, and if they see a grain field that's being harvested they'll go down,” he said.

“We've had birds come back a day or two late, they're lovely and fat and obviously well nourished.”

Archibald released the bird in Bathurst on Saturday and expected it home in Truro by suppertime that night.

Instead, the pigeon spent most of the week at Susan Thompson's farm in Prosser Brook, about 30 kilometres south of Moncton. Thompson discovered the pigeon outside her kitchen door on Sunday, during Hurricane Bill.

Thompson tried releasing the bird on Tuesday, but it came back. So she tried again Wednesday afternoon and hasn’t seen the bird since.

The young pigeon has raced successfully from Miramichi, Moncton and Amherst, said Archibald. It may have just decided to settle in New Brunswick, he said.

“If he's made up his mind, once we let them go we don't have a lot of control,” said Archibald. “So at this point, he knows where is, he just may be a little bit independent and quite happy to be free.

“New Brunswick may be a fine place for him,” he added.

If the bird does make it home, Archibald plans to break one of the rules of pigeon racing and give the bird a name before it's won its first race. He will name it “Susan's Boy,” after Susan Thompson, who took care of his pet, he said.

Read more ...

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Loft Design

The ideal loft design will provide sufficient ventilation, keep the loft dry, and minimize temperature variation without drafts.

Twenty words or less TCC Loft series

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Trichomoniasis Via the Grit-Pot

How can moist grit be a danger to the birds? Pigeons who take in moist grit day in and day out, have a tendency to drink too much, and run the risk of getting sick. The best way to give grit is after every meal; give only a handful in a trough. You may be sure that in a short time, all the grit will be gone. In this way, the birds will have no chance to dirty the grit; at the same time, the grit will not have the opportunity to absorb moisture. If you have more than one loft at your disposal, try an experiment, and compare the condition of the birds after one week. According to Leopold Bostyn, there will be a remarkable difference.

Taken from 101 methods - Part 1 - third print
by Jules Gallez

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Birds of prey 'will kill off pigeon racing'
Published Date: 30 August 2005

PIGEON racing will die out in Scotland within 20 years if the number of birds of prey continues to soar at recent record levels, experts warned yesterday.

The number of sparrowhawks and peregrine falcons, which feed on pigeons, have hit unprecedented levels, and an estimated 120,000 racing birds are being killed in Scotland every year.

The problem is so bad that the Royal Pigeon Racing Association has lost 2,000 members and the Scottish Homing Union 300 since the start of the year.

There are now 4,200 peregrine falcons and 120,000 sparrowhawks living in the UK, with each eating between two and three birds a day.

Dr Philip Lynch, chairman of the Scottish Homing Union's Save Our Sport from Raptors group, called for a change in the law to allow them to be killed.

Pigeon fancier Gill Reilly used to have 40 birds but has lost 'some real beauties' and now has only 15 left.
Picture: David Moir

"This is a problem which is getting worse. It's a terrible worry because if nothing is done about the unprecedented numbers of raptors we will see a massive drop in the number of fanciers in ten years, and we won't have a sport in 20 years."

Dr Lynch, 65, who has been racing pigeons since the age of seven from his home town of Larbert, Stirlingshire, said he had lost 65 pigeons - half his flock - this year.

"Raptor numbers have just rocketed, which has become a huge problem for our sport. A lot of fanciers are demoralised now and are dropping out of the sport.

"It is also devastating for our children and grandchildren when they see sparrowhawks attacking and eating our pigeons in the garden. It is a family sport and they become attached to the pigeons as pets, so to see them being eaten alive is just horrendous.

"What has been happening is sparrowhawks are attacking our pigeons in the garden and the peregrines are terrorising them while they are flying during races, which is forcing them to go to the ground where they are being eaten by other predators, such as foxes.

"We are not saying we want rid of every single raptor, but Scotland now has more than 50 per cent of Britain's peregrine population and we want the law to be changed so that we can trap and kill the ones which attack our pigeons."

Gill Reilly, a pigeon fancier from Edinburgh, says the sport is facing a bleak future. "I used to have 40 pigeons but now I have only 15 left," he said. "There are hundreds of pigeons getting lost at every race now. Last week, 60 fanciers liberated 180 birds, but only 11 returned, which used to be just unheard of. I have lost some real beauties and now I just feel like leaving the sport."

Peter Bryant, general manager of the Royal Pigeon Racing Association, said sparrowhawks ate pigeons alive, subjecting them to a slow and painful death.

"People are losing more pigeons than normal, and I believe birds of prey are playing a significant part in this," he said. "There are certain parts of the country which are bad for peregrines, of which Scotland is one. They are also now coming into the cities, so they don't just pose a problem to rural fanciers.

"This year we have lost 2,000 members, who say they are leaving the sport because of birds of prey. It is very upsetting to lose this many members, as it is very difficult to recruit new people."

Duncan Orr-Ewing, a raptor specialist with the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, said independent research showed fanciers had failed to take precautions against raptor attacks.

"Peregrines are being made a scapegoat here and the fanciers' reaction is just to go kill something to solve the problem," he said. "If they were to kill a raptor, then it would just be replaced a few days later by another one.

"They have been given advice, such as to not use race routes along the M74 corridor where there are a lot of peregrines, keep their lofts away from woodland cover, put model owls on their roofs and use pigeons with a white rump because research shows they are less likely to be attacked, but our experience is that fanciers aren't doing this."

Homing pigeons have been raced for sport in the UK since the 1880s and they were used as battlefield messengers during the First World War.

Read more ...

Monday, January 10, 2011

Build a Strain

Pair your best half brothers and sisters together, that is, those that fly best and resemble the prepotent pair. Mate grandchildren of the key bird together, that is, cousins. You can build a strain in this way.

Taken from Widowhood Flying
by Mark Gordon

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Phone masts 'confusing' pigeons

BBC News
Last Updated: Friday, 23 January, 2004, 14:51 GMT

Which way now? Could the pigeon's skills fall foul of new technology?

A growing number of homing pigeons are getting lost due to interference from the new "unseen enemy" of mobile phone masts, racing experts claim.

The birds' natural instincts are being confused by radiation signals from an increasing number of transmitters, the Royal Pigeon Racing Association said.

Racers say anecdotal evidence shows poor returns over the last two years.

Pigeons are thought to find their way home using landmarks and the earth's magnetic field.

Peter Bryant, of the RPRA, said its Stray Birds Committee had proposed attaching a GPS tracking device to pigeons to investigate the problem.

But currently the device - which would have to be strapped on like a rucksack - is too heavy for a pigeon to carry.

"It's fine with eagles and albatross, but for the poor little pigeons it would hamper their return," said Mr Bryant.


He said it was impossible to estimate how many pigeons were vanishing because of the transmitters.

"During the World War II, thousands of aircraft carried two pigeons in case they the plane was downed so they could send messages," he said.

"The birds were also parachuted to the Resistance. Now they're facing this unseen enemy in the form of mobile phone masts."

Pigeon fancier Anne Pitkeathly, 50, from the Isle of Wight, said she was losing more and more birds.

"When I started I was told I would lose baby birds but never the big ones.

"A lot of people think it's mobile phone masts."

She claimed one of her pigeons had recently reacted badly after being near a mast, saying it was "stressed" and "trying to be sick".

Previous research by German scientists in 1999 suggested that short wave radiation had an "undefined negative" impact on homing pigeons.

It was found that exposed birds took longer to get home, flew at lower levels and were reluctant to go near transmitters.

Between 50,000 to 60,000 pigeons are estimated to have gone missing last year due to problems such as bird of prey attacks and poor weather, the RPRA said.

Read more ...

Saturday, January 8, 2011

CRPU Forum

The Canadian Racing Pigeon Union Forum is up and running again!

Historical topics and information will be loaded soon. Take the time now to re-register.

Dead birds litter Quebec farm

CBC News
Friday, January 7, 2011

'Its not a biblical curse. It's not a death ray from an alien spaceship,' expert says

A farmer in Saint-Augustin-de-Desmaures has found about 80 dead pigeons on his farm 20 kilometres west of Quebec City.

Sylvain Turmel first noticed the dead birds in his field on Dec. 18.

"I found two dead birds in the morning, which is normal, birds sometimes die," he said.

"But when I came back one hour later, another 25 had fallen," said Turmel.

"In the time it took me to pick them up, five more fell to the ground!"

Turmel called police and the fire department. They couldn't provide him with any answers, but he said while they were there, more birds fell to their deaths.

He said wildlife officials with Quebec's Ministry of Natural Resources collected the birds for analysis but they are also stumped.

In the last two weeks, some 80 dead pigeons have been found dead on a farm in Saint-Augustin-de-Desmaures, west of Quebec city. Farmer Sylvain Turmel picks up a dead pigeon Friday.

"All they can tell me is that it's not avian influenza, it's not the West Nile virus, and it's not poison," which is what officials suspected at first.

"It won't stop. I'm finding more [dead] birds every day."

Turmel said that after they fall the pigeons usually remain on the ground for one or two hours before dying.

Phenomenon not unusual: expert

David Bird, a wildlife biologist at McGill University in Montreal, said he's been receiving a lot of phone calls about the phenomenon.

In recent days thousands of birds have suddenly and inexplicably died in the United States and Sweden.

In one small town in Arkansas, more than 4,000 red-winged blackbirds dropped out of the sky on New Year's Eve, littering cars, homes and lawns.

A dead red-winged blackbird is seen in Beebe, Ark., on Jan. 1, 2011. The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission said more than 1,000 dead blackbirds fell from the sky in the town. (Warren Watkins/The Daily Citizen/Associated Press)

"First of all, it's not a biblical curse. It's not a death ray from an alien space ship," said Bird, noting the incidents have created a type of hysteria.

He said the phenomenon is much more common than people realize.

"There are many cases where birds get hit by hailstorms or get lost in the fog and they die of starvation and they just fall dead out of the sky."

Bird said each incident likely has its own unique cause, and there's no need for people to panic.

"I think this is a case where it's just coincidental … and people are trying to link them together."

Read more ...

Rounded Epiglottis

A round or constant opening and closing of the epiglottis located on the pharynx is a sign of respiratory distress.

Twenty words or less TCC Loft series

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Shipping Pigeons by Canada Post

Progress with Canada Post?

CPFA: Shipping Information
By Bob Pommer

There are a lot of barriers to attracting, and holding, new fanciers in our hobby today. Many of these, like lifestyle choices, urbanization, and our society’s desire for activities with instant gratification, are barriers that I suspect that we are just going to have to accept as a reality beyond our influence. However, there are other barriers that we can, and we would be wise to, address if we care about the hobbies future. Among these are the increasingly intrusive community By-Laws, public perceptions of our hobby, and the lack of mobility for our birds... ie.... shipping.

I would love to see our CPFA have the financial resources to put a team of lawyers (lobbyists) together to act as an immediate response team wherever and whenever a responsible fancier is being bludgeoned by an unfair By-Law.

I would also love to see an on-going budget for the promotion of our hobby through old and new media to change the publics view of our birds, over time, from one of vermin at worst and a nuisance at best, to a view more akin to how the public presently views exotic fish, horses, and dogs.

But the barrier to the growth of our hobby that I have been designated to work on by CPFA President, Ken Knight, deals with the problems that we have in Canada in moving our birds from fancier to fancier.

Presently, unless we are geographically close enough for the 2 people who wish to exchange birds to actually meet, the only way to get birds from point A to point B is by air freight. This means an inconvenient and expensive trip to the airport, and expensive bill to get the birds shipped, AND the very real possibility that the airline will not accept the shipment in the first place because of ambiguous and inconsistent container requirements. We have NO Canada Post service!! We have NO courier service!! And as of February 8th of this year, even one of our national airlines (Westjet) will no longer accept “Lives” unless the shipper has a standing commercial contract as a hatchery might have.

This is a hobby among people!! Relationships among fanciers are at least as important as the birds that we raise. I would argue that relationships are more important. However, the birds are the instruments that we use to build those relationships. We need to make stock easily attainable, not with a selling-buying focus, but with a sharing focus whether this involves $$$$ changing hands or not.

Can the situation be improved?

After a month of exploring the issue I believe that there is some room for optimism, but there is far more to it than I had expected. Allow me to give a generalized and point-form summary of some of what has been learned or has happened so far.

The US Postal Service DOES allow birds (pigeons, chickens, pheasants, etc.) to be shipped through the mail in specialized containers. This was done as an Act Of Congress and has been imposed upon the USPS an FEDEX.

Canada Post DOES allow day-old chicks and cold blooded Live Research Specimens ( ex. frogs) to be shipped from March 1st to October 30th.

The CFIA ( Canadian Food Inspection Agency) is responsible for policing the well-being of all “Lives” shipped in Canada. A spokesman responsible for shipping “Lives” has indicated that the CFIA has no problems with pigeons being mailed in Canada.

IATA ( the International Air Transport Assoc.), based in Montreal, creates the rules for shipping containers all over the world, including CDN domestic flights. I am presently not aware of any acceptable commercial container available in Canada that meets IATA guidelines, but a spokesman for IATA has assured me that they are open to a proposal to designate such a container.

The HORIZON company in the USA has designed, tested, and made available, a series of shipping containers that meet USPS guidelines. I am now in possession of sample containers, plus all of their test documentation, in case they are needed for a presentation to IATA.

The CU ( CDN Union, the Racing Homer equivalent of the CPFA) has given their support for this CPFA initiative. There is also an expectation that the AU in the USA along with the European equivalent will also join. I am also seeking support from the squab industry.

My local MP has agreed to look at any final proposal and steer us to the proper authorities if the need should arise.

It would seem that the logical process would be to get an inexpensive, readily available, shipping container accepted by IATA and then recognized by the CFIA. This would then be followed by proposals to CDN couriers and Canada Post who would not be able to hide behind “risk” excuses for not taking our birds.

This is a “brief” synopsis of where the process stands at this point. If anyone reading this is able to assist in any way, your support would be welcomed. Please contact me by email at or 705-445-7383

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Monday, January 3, 2011

The Droppings

The droppings of a fit healthy pigeon are pasty brown with a topping of white and in the early morning covered with down which the bird has shed in the night.

Taken from Fit To Win
by Wim Peters

Sunday, January 2, 2011


The ideal system of ventilation is one where air comes into the loft at floor level from the loft front or, from a removed board in the floor at the front and exits through an opening in the loft front at the top or preferably through an opening at the front of the ceiling and thence through ventilators in the roof.

As Mark Gordon says, "this is worth repeating".

Air comes into the loft at the front and leaves at the front, flowing from bottom to top.

Taken from Widowhood Flying
by Mark Gordon

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Straw Bedding

Dry, healthy, golden yellow straw can bring on tremendous form. However, if wet can rapidly spread fungus throughout the loft.

Twenty words or less TCC Loft series