Pigeons having a good and complete moult keep their good health in general and come into form in an easier way. They glide through the air with a minimum of resistance and do not bother about rain, fog, or unfavourable atmospheric conditions.
It will be quite sufficient if we withhold towards the middle of the week, let us say Thursday morning, a third of the usual weight of food. All the other meals up to basketing time will consist of the ordinary weight. You will be surprised about the salutary influence of this smaller ration, once a week. The other days they stay under the impression that they do not receive enough and at the first signal they will come in just like the old birds. If your management is correct, they will act similarly when homing from a race.
It is never possible to get a good performance from a youngster moulting its coverts (small feathers overlapping the joint of the arm and the fore-arm). This moult generally takes place when fifth and sixth flights are dropped.
"Many think the eyes of a bird are very important. Some have made a lot of money writing about eye signs and eyes. Although these same men are very unsuccessful when racing pigeons, their 'eye' books sell like hotcakes. It is the same old story of the average fancier looking for instant success and he'll usually try anything no matter how ridiculous. The eyes must be bright and have plenty of color or pigment. They will get brighter as the bird reaches peak condition and will become pale and lose pigmentation when the bird loses condition or gets sick. The pupil should be located in direct line with the split of the beak so the wattle can protect the eyes from the elements. Penn State University of State College, Pennsylvania has conducted some interesting experiments with homing pigeons.
One of these experiments dealt with testing the eyes and the theories connected with the eyes. The students obtained a group of 20 young racing pigeons. After getting the birds settled to their new home, they began to exercise and train the team. They took the group of birds about 20 miles from their home and released them. All homed in good condition. After many similar tosses, the team was equipped with contact lenses, but these lenses were different from others. They were clouded and colored so that the birds could only see for a distance of six feet. The team was again taken 20 miles from home and released. Again all arrived in good time even though the birds were almost blind because of the lenses. The lenses were all removed from the bird's eyes and then wax ear plugs were inserted into the bird's ears. Again the team was taken to the 20 mile release point and liberated. Not one returned home that day. After a few days, some of the birds returned because the wax plugs melted and fell out of the bird's ears. Eventually all the birds returned but only after the plugs melted. Not one bird returned while the plugs were still in the ears. It is safe to assume that birds need their ears more than their eyes to home successfully. Isn't it strange that there are 'eye theories' but no 'ear theories?' "
Often we choose our pool birds watching the cocks cavort. A particularly sharp cock will fly in the window, land on his nest, look around, and go shooting right off again. But while their actions outside display lots of pep and fire, in the loft they should lie quietly on their sides, so to speak, resting on one wing.
Proteins build bone and feather, carbohydrates supply energy. It's as simple as that; you feed peas, beans, tares or vetch for body building and corn, milo, kafir for energy. Remember this and you are halfway home.
The homing pigeon is a variety of domesticated Rock Pigeon (Columba livia domestica) that has been selectively bred to be able to find its way home over extremely long distances. The wild rock pigeon has an innate homing ability, meaning that it will generally return to its own nest and its own mate. This made it relatively easy to breed from the birds that repeatedly found their way home over long distances. Flights as long as 1800 kilometers (1,118 miles) have been recorded by birds in competition pigeon racing. Their average flying speed over moderate distances is around 48 km/h (30 mph), but speeds of up to 95 km/h (59 mph) have been observed.
Homing pigeons are called carrier pigeons when they are used to carry messages. This is possible where a message is written on thin light paper (such as cigarette paper) and rolled into a small tube attached to the bird's leg; this is called pigeon post. Pigeons can only go back to one "mentally marked" point that they have identified as their home. So "pigeon mail" can only work when the sender is actually holding the receiver's pigeons. White homing pigeons are used in Release Dove ceremonies at weddings, funerals, and some sporting events.
Research has been performed with the intention of discovering how pigeons, after being transported, can find their way back from distant places they have never visited before. Most researchers believe that homing ability is based on a "map and compass" model, with the compass feature allowing birds to orient and the map feature allowing birds to determine their location relative to a goal site (home loft) While the compass mechanism appears to rely on the sun, the map mechanism has been highly debated. Some researchers believe that the map mechanism relies on the ability of birds to detect the Earth's magnetic field. It is true that birds can detect a magnetic field, to help them find their way home. A light-mediated mechanism that involves the eyes and is lateralized has been examined somewhat, but recent developments have implicated the trigeminal nerve in magnetoception. Research by Floriano Papi (Italy, early 1970s) and more recent work, largely by Hans Wallraff, suggests that instead pigeons orient themselves using the spatial distribution of atmospheric odors, known as olfactory navigation (see the August 20, 2005 issue of Science News.). Near their home lofts, in areas they have previously visited, pigeons probably are guided by visual landmarks.
Various experiments suggest that different breeds of homing pigeons rely on different cues to different extents. Charles Walcott at Cornell was able to demonstrate that one strain of pigeons was confused by a magnetic anomaly in the Earth that had no effect on another strain of birds. Other experiments have shown that altering the perceived time of day with artificial lighting or using air conditioning to eliminate odors in the pigeons' home roost affected the pigeons' ability to return home.
Some research also indicates that homing pigeons navigate by following roads and other man-made features, making 90 degree turns and following habitual routes, much the same way that humans navigate.
Homing pigeons, the winged messengers of the Indian police force, did perform for more than 50 years of distinguished service.
About 800 birds from the Police Pigeon Service, which have defied cyclones and floods to deliver urgent police messages between remote stations in the north-eastern state of Orissa since 1946, may be retired under government proposals that suggest e-mail and telephones make the birds obsolete in 2002.
I'd suggest you mate the experienced hens to yearling cocks and race the hens in the long races and give your yearling cocks plenty of work at short and medium distances in preparation for widowhood next year.
CHELTENHAM, England - After rocking the worlds of cycling and track and field, the scourge of doping is ruffling feathers in another athletic endeavor: pigeon racing.
Gifted with uncanny navigation skills, pigeons have been used to carry messages for centuries. In the early 1800s, people in northern France started racing them. Half a century later, pigeon contests took off in Britain and became the poor man's horse racing. Today the country boasts 50,000 "fanciers," as pigeon trainers are called, and some three million specially bred racing pigeons.
But a pall has been cast on the venerable sport. In Belgium, where the pastime is also popular, scores of pigeons have tested positive for steroids. A number of fanciers have been suspended since the Ministry of Health imposed drug testing in 1995 out of concern for the birds' welfare. In 2001, Belgian police raided 80 homes of breeders and feed-and-medicine suppliers, confiscating large quantities of illegal products that were being used to goose performances.
Until recently, no one had raised questions about the sport in Britain. But a series of sensational race results by fanciers here has sparked grousing that some are feeding their pigeons more than grain.
The 107-year-old Royal Pigeon Racing Association, which is based in this scenic region of western England and counts Queen Elizabeth II among its members, instituted random drug testing in July. The substances banned in the RPRA's 2004 rulebook read like a list of drugs outlawed at the Olympic Games: anabolic steroids, beta-agonists, corticosteroids, opiates, analgesics and synthetic hormones, among others.
So far, the RPRA's 40 tests have all come back negative. But some of the country's top fanciers nevertheless remain under a cloud of suspicion. Among the rumors flying: They are using new drugs that can't be detected, or the drugs have left the pigeons' systems by the time tests are administered. The successful fanciers reply that the doping allegations are sour grapes from jealous rivals.
"I've had a lot of suspicions because of certain performances," says Frank Brammer, an 81-year-old fancier from Gloucester who started racing pigeons in 1937, when he was 14. "Some people who have to win at all cost will dope their pigeons," he says. He adds that he has caught fellow fanciers using other tricks to cheat - such as tampering with race clocks or with pigeons' identification rings.
An incident involving one of Mr. Brammer's birds fanned the doping rumors when the pigeon in question went missing during a race between France and England in May, only to turn up in Canada two months later. A racing pigeon's maximum range is usually around 500 miles, but this bird traveled more than 3,000 miles over the Atlantic Ocean.
Mr. Brammer, who swears he doesn't dope his birds, says it's "fantasy" to think his pigeon could have flown that far, even on drugs. He speculates that it hit some bad weather over the English Channel and took refuge on a passing ship bound for North America.
Pigeons have an impressive ability to find their way home from afar. Scientists believe they use an internal sun clock and an innate ability to read the Earth's magnetic field to guide themselves. The ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans all used pigeons to carry messages. In the 12th century, the Caliph of Baghdad had them deliver mail in one of the world's first postal services. When Napoleon was defeated at Waterloo in 1815, Count Nathan Rothschild famously received the news from a pigeon long before anyone else in London, and profited by investing in depressed British government bonds.
In the 19th century, pigeon racing spread from its hub of northern France to Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and Britain. Today, there are pigeon fanciers in North America, Asia and Africa.
In modern races, pigeons are transported in a big truck to sites hundreds of miles from home and then released. The pigeon that flies back fastest to its loft - the birdhouse where it was born and bred - wins the race. In some races, pigeons are taken as far afield as southern France or Spain and have to find their way back to England.
Performance-enhancing drugs can produce roughly the same effects in pigeons as in human athletes. Anabolic steroids build up a pigeon's muscles. Beta-agonists open its respiratory tract and improve breathing. Both can boost a pigeon's endurance. Corticosteroids, which are administered in eye drops, delay a pigeon's molting, enabling it to train harder and race later in the season.
The incentive to cheat is in large part financial. Fanciers can earn big money from prizes awarded at races or by betting thousands of pounds among themselves. By far the greatest potential for gain comes from selling champion cocks and hens for breeding. One pigeon with a particularly impressive record of victories fetched a record pound sterling 177,000, or about $328,000.
Anxiety grew this year in Britain when some fanciers flew circles around the competition in the country's toughest races. A fancier from Birmingham, Bob Walton, placed seven of his pigeons among the top 36 finishers - including first, second and fourth places - in The Vanrobaeys Gold Ring Classic on Aug. 30. He won $45,158 in prize money and a new car. Mr. Walton's pigeons have since been tested and cleared. He declined to comment for this article.
Mark Evans, a 40-year-old fancier from the town of Whitley Bridge in North Yorkshire, did even better. His pigeons claimed the top six places (and 10 of the top 12 places) in a race that is part of the prestigious Midlands National Championship. When droppings were collected from his birds for testing the day after the stellar performance, rumors began swirling that he had been caught doping them.
The RPRA can't afford the expensive fees of the laboratory the Belgian federation uses at the University of Ghent, so it sends its samples to a horse-testing lab in South Africa. It takes a month for results to come back. During the long wait, Mr. Evans, who also sells pigeons he breeds, got calls from clients "who wanted to know if the rumors about drugs were true," he says. "It hurt our reputation."
He was eventually cleared, yet he says some of his competitors still suspect him of foul play and even refuse to race against him. "Unfortunately, there's a lot of jealousy in this sport," he says. Mr. Evans has won the six-race Midlands National Championship three times in the past four years. He says the reason his pigeons do so well is their elite breeding. "We have the best bloodlines in the world," he says.
Steve Palin, a 42-year-old window washer from Cheltenham who moonlights as a fancier, doesn't believe the doping rumors. Having inherited his passion for the sport from his father, he gets up at 5:30 every morning to feed his pigeons and let them out for an exercise flight. "I honestly don't think most fanciers in this country would use drugs," he says, as he pets Baldy, a strapping champion with a white beak and greenish neck who has won seven races.
The RPRA plans to continue the drug testing next year. Fanciers whose pigeons test positive will be banned from racing for three years. "We'll show people that we do have a clean sport," says Peter Bryant, the association's general manager.
Bred by Noel PEIREN, Imported by Claude Rothgiesser, Son of "Red Pau Cock" which scored 3 times in Pau (600 Miles) Nationals and daughter of "Barcelona 136 Cock" who scored 5th Barcelona National. Good breeder including 1st Open Matheson Y/L, 4th Longlac, 3rd Latchford, 4th Smooth Rock Falls, 4th Open AU Band Race Y/B Smooth Rock Falls, 3rd Burks Falls, 2nd Estaire, 1st Matheson, and 1st Latchford