About Pigeon Racing
What is Pigeon Racing? Pigeon racing is the sport of releasing specially trained Homing Pigeons,
which then return to their homes over a carefully measured distance. The time it takes the
animal to cover the specified distance is measured and the bird's rate of travel is calculated and
compared with the other pigeons in the race to determine which animal returned at the highest
Pigeon racing requires a specific breed of pigeon bred for the sport, the Racing Homer. Competing pigeons are specially trained and conditioned for races that vary in distance from approximately 100 kilometres (62 mi) to 1,000 kilometres (620 mi). Despite these lengths, races can be won and lost by seconds, as many different timing and measuring devices have been developed. The traditional timing method involves rubber rings being placed into a specially designed clock, whereas a newer development uses RFID tags to record arrival time.
While there is no definite proof, there are compelling reasons to think the sport of racing
pigeons may go back at least as far as 220 AD. The first account of a homing pigeon is the story of the dove on Noah’s Ark in the Biblical event of the worldwide flood in approximately 4,000 BC. The sport achieved a great deal of popularity in Belgium in the mid-19th century. The pigeon fanciers of Belgium were so taken with the hobby that they began to develop pigeons specially cultivated for fast flight and long endurance called Voyageurs. From Belgium the modern version of the sport and the Voyageurs which the Flemish fanciers developed spread to most parts of the world. Once quite popular, the sport has experienced a downturn in participants in some parts of the world in recent years, possibly due to aging fanciers, the younger generation not being interested (which is really a shame), false claims about the sport, and bad press, resulting in a severe lack of public interest.
One recent development in the sport of pigeon racing is "one loft racing". Birds are raced
against each other under the same training regimen, from the same location. The principle being to find the best individual race bird irrespective of the race trainer. This will determine which bird is then the most successful.
What is One Loft Racing?
A one loft race is a race where all the pigeons entered are housed in the same loft. They are raised in the loft from the age of 6 weeks, trained together, then transported to the same location and released at the same time. They then race back to the 'home' loft. No calculations are needed as all birds are returning from the same distance and the first bird back in the loft or “trapped’’ is the winner.
Homing Pigeons have long played an important role in war.
Due to their homing ability, speed and altitude, they were often used as military messengers. Carrier pigeons of the Racing Homer breed were used to carry messages in World War I, and World War II and 32 such pigeons were presented with the Dickin Medal.
During World War I and World War II, carrier pigeons were used to transport messages back to their home coop behind the lines. When they landed, wires in the coop would sound a bell or buzzer and a soldier of the Signal Corps would know a message had arrived. He or she would go to the coop, remove the message from the canister, and send it to its destination by telegraph, field phone, or personal messenger.
A carrier pigeon's job was dangerous. Nearby enemy soldiers often tried to shoot down pigeons, knowing that released birds were carrying important messages. Some of these pigeons became quite famous among the infantrymen they worked for. One pigeon, named "The Mocker", flew 52 missions before he was wounded. Another, named “Cher Ami”, lost his foot and one eye, but his message got through, saving a large group of surrounded American infantrymen.
Cher Ami was a registered Black Check cock carrier pigeon, one of 600 birds owned and flown by the U.S. Army Signal Corps in France during World War I. He delivered twelve important messages within the American sector at Verdun; on his last mission, October 4, 1918, he was shot through the breast, the leg, and blinded in one eye by enemy fire but still managed to return to his loft with a message capsule dangling from the tendon of his wounded leg. The message Cher Ami carried was from Major Charles S. Whittlesey's "Lost Battalion" of the
Seventy-seventy Infantry Division that had been isolated from other American forces. The
message brought about the relief of the 194 battalion survivors, and they were safe behind
American lines shortly after the message was received.
For his heroic service,
Cher Ami was awarded the French Croix de Guerre with palm. He was returned to the United States and died at Fort Monmouth, N.J. on June 13, 1919, as a result of
his wounds. Cher Ami was later inducted into the Racing Pigeon Hall of Fame in 1931, and received a gold medal from the Organized Bodies of American Pigeon Fanciers in recognition of his extraordinary service during World War I.
Altered content sourced from Wikipedia