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2016: What a year

Never ever before did I hear fanciers complain so much as this year. ‘A year like this I never experienced’, they moan. No wonder. Such a year never happened. And this is all due to the terrible weather, week after week.

- In some areas three weeks in succession Middle Distance races were cancelled.

- Even from a short distance race from less than 100 kilometres it happened 3 times that the birds came back home by truck after 2 nights in the trucks at the release station.

- When the youngsters were supposed to have their 5th (Middle Distance) race in some areas they had had just ONE training toss. All races cancelled.

- And much more of such misery, like the immense losses.

IMMENSE LOSSES                                                  

Worst of all are the mysterious losses with youngsters, even in nice weather. In the middle of Holland they had a young bird race form hardly 65 miles. The weather was ok with tailwinds and the birds were released early in the morning. The first birds arrived at 10.00 a.m. The following day the race was not finished. So then two third of the birds did not make it home.


And talking about losses, the strangest things happen. Babies that had won a top prize 3 times got lost from a training toss of 10 kilometers only. There is this fancier who had raced his young birds 4 times. Then he went on the road with them for a toss of 6 miles only and he lost 30 birds from 78. Furthermore there are those fanciers that let their babies out. After they opened the loft they behaved very strange, they made many rounds around the loft to never get back home. Fanciers that ‘only’ lost half of their babies are the lucky ones. And the worst thing of all is that those losses seem to become a tradition. It is the same story every year. When some decades ago a fancier wanted to race 30 babies he bought 30 rings. And after the season he had 28 birds left or more. If you want to race 30 babies to-day you better order 75 rings or more. Is this because of the change of the climate? Who knows?


I live in a quiet street. That is nice when you have pigeons but it also has a disadvantage. Several fanciers toss the birds in my street which is no fun when 6 weeks old babies fly out for the first time. Some time ago a fancier had unloaded his van with 4 baskets of babies. He let them out I saw and went inside. To my surprise he still stood there half an hour later. I went up to him and asked if something was wrong. Then he put his finger up. ‘Look at that’ he said. And then I saw it. The birds were still flying there. They refused to leave the place and again… the weather was real nice. Why the f*ck did they not leave the place. What you often here is also the following thing. Fanciers go on the road with their babies. Take 80 for arguments’ sake, and they all get home one by one. Not even one time 2 birds together. It is just crazy.


Champions, vets and scientist agree there must be a complex of reasons. Two of them are lack of health and poor quality. And why is that? The feed is too cheap. Therefore fanciers breed too many babies. With many babies there is a bigger chance to get a lucky winner. And winners of early prizes are wanted by foreigners. With the internet the whole world will see the name of the owner of that winning bird. What they do not see is how many birds were such a man entered. Now you may understand that eyebrows are raised here when easterners come to buy birds. They skip the real champions but go to the ‘paper tigers’ to buy ‘paper tigers’.


Other complaints are about too many races. Fanciers beg the KBDB (Homing Union) to reorganise. Having a race from 600 miles and one from 635 miles on the same day is ridiculous. Believe it or not, June 19th  some fanciers in the province of Antwerp raced birds from 6 different release stations!  40 Years ago, when there were 100,000 fanciers more, this was acceptable. To-day, with 100,000 fanciers less it is a waste of time and money. The point is that very much money is to be won by organising races. A difference between Holland and Belgium is that in Belgium private groups of persons organise races. In Holland races are organised by the Federation. They own the trucks and the last thing that they want is to make money. Now you may understand why shipping birds is so much more expensive in Belgium.


I am a person that likes to bike in the beautiful nature. And like every ‘normal’ fancier I see every pigeon loft. And I count them. Last week we had one of those few nice days. In the Berlaar area I counted 17 lofts. They were all reminders of a ‘rich pigeon history’, since in none of these lofts were pigeons any more.

I apologise for this pessimistic article, but sometimes you just have to face the truth. No matter how painful it is.

P. S. 

A mail from a fellow fancier inspired me to write this article. He started the young bird season with 22 babies that he raced with separated sexes. Now there is not much to separate. He lost 21 of them.