Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Selecting Foundation Stock

When selecting pigeons as breeders, it is preferable for the fancier to divide his appraisal of the bird into several distinct categories. for example,
  • Inspect to confirm the bird's physical properties
  • Inspect to confirm its general good health
  • Investigate to ascertain its class breeding
Taken from Racing Pigeon & Pigeon Racing For All
by Old Hand

Saturday, October 22, 2011


Pigeons under stress are more susceptible to illness than those that are relaxed and serene.

Twenty words or less TCC Loft series

S. G. "Jim" Biss
Widowhood Old and New
Edited by Colin Osman

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Good & Bad

Nothing is more easily contracted than a habit.

Twenty words or less TCC Loft Series

Widowhood Old and New
Edited by Colin Osman

When the Racers Take Flight, Literally

The New York Times


Published: October 26, 2003

SHIRLEY— LESS than 70 miles from New York City, where pigeons are widely regarded as feathered rats, fanciers gather to haggle over the price of thoroughbred racing pigeons.

Every week, on Wednesday nights and Sunday afternoons, as many as 60 people crowd into the back room of the Pigeon Store at 60 Northern Boulevard in Shirley to discuss breeds, eat doughnuts and occasionally buy a bird.

''Pigeons are a big deal around here,'' said Joan Schroeder, who works at the store and breeds her own birds. ''I nearly couldn't squeeze into the auction room last week there were so many people.'' Auctions are also held at the Pigeon Store's second location, in Lindenhurst.

On Long Island, an estimated 2,500 pigeon owners breed, fly and race more than 300 types of birds. The Nassau-Suffolk Pigeon Fanciers Club, which has about 100 members, holds three shows and a swap event each year at the Holtsville Ecology Center. Its biggest event, to be held on Nov. 15. this year, showcases about 2,000 birds, none of which would be found on a city street corner.

''The general public will always assume the pigeons we breed are the same as the ones they see in the park,'' said Deone Roberts, the spokeswoman for the American Racing Pigeon Union in Oklahoma City, a national organization that promotes pigeon racing. ''But that's like comparing a thoroughbred to a plow horse, or a champion show dog to a street mutt.''

There are some 1,000 pigeon clubs in the United States with membership ranging into the tens of thousands, the racing union estimates. Although no organization keeps track of the exact number of clubs, fanciers with decades of experience estimated that there are 12 to 15 on Long Island alone. Some towns on the Island require licenses for pigeon lofts, but fanciers said that that stipulation was honored mostly in the breach.

As with horses, the variety of pigeon breeds seems endless, but at the Pigeon Store's auctions, homing pigeons -- birds capable of returning to their home lofts from after journeys of thousands of miles -- constitute the largest number of sales.

Then there are the tipplers, or birds that can stay aloft for more than 15 hours; fancy birds, the result of crossing different breeds to create rare and elegant strains; and rollers, or pigeons that tumble as if shot in midair, only to spring back to life and surge skyward.

At a recent auction, iridescent green and gray homing pigeons fluttered nervously in their cages. As big-band music filtered through overhead speakers, a handful of men, mostly elderly and white, appraised the birds, preparing to stock up for the fall racing season, which runs from Labor Day to early November. Some unsentimental fanciers even buy large homing squabs for the dinner table.

The average price for a racing pigeon is about $5, but the cost of a bird with a champion lineage can rise into the hundreds, if not thousands.

On the day before a race, which may range from 100 to 800 miles, fanciers gather at their local club with the birds they plan to register. They load the birds onto the club's trailer for the trip to the race's starting point, called the liberation site. For Long Island fanciers, the sites are usually somewhere in Pennsylvania, Ohio or New Jersey, depending on the race mileage.

At dawn the next morning, club representatives release the birds and watch as they wing their way eastward. The bird that flies at the fastest average speed, measured in yards per minute using Global Positioning data, from the liberation site back to its home loft, is the winner. Most of the birds fly at speeds of 35 to 60 miles per hour, depending on the wind direction and velocity.

''Racing pigeons are little athletes,'' said Ms. Roberts, the racing union spokeswoman. ''They're racehorses with wings.''

Some fanciers have equipped their lofts with high-tech clocks and electronic landing pads that read transmitters on their birds' leg bands and automatically clock them in. The owners then take a printout of the times to the club sponsoring the race.

Tradition-bound fanciers do all this by hand. They wait for their birds with string paddles, or poling sticks, which resemble lacrosse sticks and are used to capture the birds when they arrive. The owners remove the leg bands and put them in capsules, which are placed in the slot of a time-stamp clock. When the fancier turns a crank, a capsule is stamped with the arrival time. Capsules are held in the clock's innards until the clock is opened at race headquarters.

But sometimes the birds don't come back at all. Predators, power lines, storms and strong winds all take their toll. ''You hate to lose them, but you can't beat nature,'' said Val Matteucci of Hicksville, a fancier for 40 years and the secretary-treasurer of the International Federation of American Homing Pigeon Fanciers, organized in 1881. ''If they stop in a tree or hit a wire and fall to the ground, they can become prey very easily.''

Humans have used homing pigeons for more than 5,000 years to send messages over great distances. The United States Army used tens of thousands of birds in both World Wars and in the Korean War when radio silence was necessary or when communications had been disabled. Now pigeons are used by the military as a double-check on chemical-weapons sensors, much as canaries were once used by miners.

Scientists still don't know how homing pigeons find their way, but they believe that the birds pick up cues from the position of the sun and from geomagnetic fields.

In Europe, pigeon races often carry six-figure cash prizes, and each year, the Million Dollar Pigeon Race is held in South Africa. In the United States most fanciers compete only for diplomas and trophies, although the Snowbird Classic, which is sponsored by the Fernando Valley Club of Sun Valley, Calif., is expected to offer $100,000 in prize money for the first 10 finishers. The race will next be run on Nov. 20, 2004.

Gary, a fancier from Mastic Beach who insisted that his last name not be printed because he did not have a license for his 350-bird loft, said that feeding pigeons has some fringe benefits.

''Their droppings are the best fertilizer,'' he said. ''You scrape it up and throw it in the garden. In a few days, it pushes up tomatoes like forget about it.''

Photos: John Leone, far left, checks in for an East Meadow Pigeon Club race. There are an estimated 2,500 pigeon fanciers and 12 to 15 clubs on the Island.; For the East Meadow club's 300-mile race last month, pigeons were transported in crates to the starting point in Somerset, Pa. (Photographs by Phil Marino for The New York Times)

Read more ...

Monday, October 17, 2011

The 'First' Cross

It remains only for me to point out that most of the big classic long distance races have been won by racing pigeons bred from a first cross, mostly in those cases where an inbred cross has been coupled to a member of another good line-bred, or inbred family. In other words, the first cross champion is usually the product of a coupling between two well-established inbred families, not from an out-crossed specimen mated to another much out-crossed bird.

Taken from The Racing Pigeon & Pigeon Racing For All
by Old Hand

Saturday, October 15, 2011


Hold off  your vaccinations until after the moult. Avoid negative results during the breeding, racing, and moulting periods.

twenty words or less TCC Loft series

Monday, October 10, 2011


Intelligence is the first quality of a good pigeon. An intelligent bird while homing will take the best out of favourable circumstances, it will fly low and prefer the valley when a headwind is prevailing; with favourable wind, it will choose the zone in the sky which is likely to help it to its loft in the shortest time.

Taken from The Practical Side of Pigeon Racing
by Leon Petit
May 1952

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Pigeon racing a feather in his cap

Otago Daily Times
Jasmine Netzler-Iose
July 2, 2009

Brian Christian, of Timaru, has had a fascination for pigeons since he was a young boy.

In 1976, when he was old enough to own land, he built a loft and raced pigeons as a hobby.

Now, 33 years later, he continues to be fascinated with birds and, in particular, pigeons' homing ability.

Mr Christian said that kept him passionate about the sport.

Racing pigeons were trained when they were four or five months old, he said.

The pigeons were taught how to fly in a straight line instead of in circles.

The pigeons eventually learnt how to increase their flying distances, he said.

The pigeons were driven or freighted to the start of races and then they were liberated.

Once the birds were a week old, a metal ring was placed around one of their legs.

The ring recorded the date the pigeon hatched and the name of the club it belonged to.

The ring stayed on the pigeon's leg for life.

But before a race, a rubber ring was placed on the pigeon's other leg, he said.

Once the bird arrived home from a race, the rubber ring was removed by the bird's owner and placed into a pre-set clocking machine, identifying the time it landed.

Mr Christian believed it was this method of clocking in the birds that prompted many people to leave before the races were over.

Mr Christian, who is the secretary of the South Canterbury Pigeon Flying Club (SCPFC), said the club was always keen to recruit new members.

‘‘It's a sport very big overseas and in the bigger centres around New Zealand, but in Timaru we are struggling for members at the moment,'' he said.

The SCPFC was established in the 1930s, he said.

Back then, the club had many members, right up to the 1970s when there were more than 16.

Today the club continued, but with only 10 members.

‘‘It's not an expensive sport to be a part of but this depends on the number of birds in your loft,'' he said.

Mr Christian said it was not the cost of raising pigeons that was the problem but the fact pigeon racing was time consuming.

''This is why the club is struggling with members.''

Often during races people left before the birds returned home, he said.

He said many people continued to enter their birds in the young birds' races because they were less time-consuming, but the club was looking at a new method of clocking in the birds.

Mr Christian said the club was seeking funds to buy an Electronic Timing System which would allow pigeon owners to be elsewhere while the machine automatically clocked the birds in at the end of a race.

The young birds' racing season, involving birds aged six months to a year, is from March to June.

After turning one, the birds are eligible for old bird racing competitions, which take place in September and December.

The SCPFC's longest race was 1000km from the East Cape in the North Island to Timaru, Mr Christian said.

Anyone interested in joining the club can contact Gary King on (03) 688-3946 or Mr Christian on (03) 686-1819 or 027 600-5572.

Read more ...

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Feed The Moult

Feed the moult as you would feed developing babies in the nest.

Twenty words or less TCC Loft series