Much news you get in the pigeon sport is bad, but not all.
Take that mail I got.
I saw right away that it was from an educated man and that turned out to be the case indeed. He was 45 years old and owner of a big business.
Five years ago he became a pigeon fancier.
'A big mistake' he said. He should have become a fancier much earlier.
Before race horses was his hobby.
But he found this far more unfair and certainly far more expensive than pigeons. People with money bought all the best horses and won everything.
People with money also buy the best birds but they do not win everything.
Still many people start keeping horses every year, while in the pigeon sport people quit every year.
The reason is that we do not have a good image, for which we ourselves are to blame he said.
He also finds it fascinating that in the pigeon sport everybody can become a champion. Educated people and not educated people. Young people, old people, athletes, gays, everybody.
How different this is with other sports.
The champions become those people who are able to observe well and have their eyes open.
If birds got lost from a race and after some time you hear a noise in the loft there is a great chance a bird returned.
This may also be the case if you see some stray birds on the roof of the loft.
Furthermore you have a chance to get pigeons back tot got lost when the wind changes into another direction.
When birds got lost from a race from the south you have little chance to get them back when the following days the wind keeps coming from the north.
As for this I remember what once happened to the Janssenbrothers. They had lost a good with strong West wind but on Tuesday the wind would turn east.
'If it does not return on Tuesday we will not see him any more' Janus moaned.
Tuesday evening Louis called. The bird had returned indeed.
Pigeons in the loft that suddenly make a lot of noise on racing day may also mean that you did not see a bird arrive and get in.
SMELL AND FEATHERS
When you enter the loft and notice a sour penetrating smell chances are great that birds are infected by canker.
When you check nest babies and see they are sharp round the breast bone and you see slimy threads in the throat you can be sure!
When you handle a bird and notice it has very dry and withered feathers it may mean they are infected by worms.
LITTLE BODY FEATHERS
It may also happen that you see that one or more birds have thrown surprisingly many little body feathers when you enter the loft in the morning.
The moult of some little feathers is normally a sign of good health but too much is too much. Such birds will not win a prize, since something is wrong with them from which they are recovering. The condition will come in 2 or 3 weeks.
Who has never experienced that birds got back from a race much earlier than he expected?
This may happen when there is no wind at all but when you look in the sky you will see so-called 'wind streaks'.
This is a sign of strong winds high up and when birds are so lucky as to fly at a height with such winds they can develop a high speed and get home many minutes before others.
Depending on the height the strength of the wind can differ very much.
Such winnings with a big advance you seldom see with headwinds.
The reason is that all birds then fly under the same conditions, very low, apart from those that lack condition. They do not fly as fast and low as others do and their speed significantly diminishes.
On Saturdays all day long pigeons fly over in Holland and Belgium from numerous different release stations. If those birds fly all directions we are prepared for a bad race. If they suddenly without any reason turn and fly back where they came from it we are prepared for a VERY bad race.
On such days the first pigeons are seldom the favourites.
The good birds are in front when a race is fast and then several fanciers will not win a prize. How different this is when there is a bad race. Then everybody is on the result sheet.
FIRST AND LAST FLIGHT
In the past fanciers said that birds that had not thrown their first flight do not have condition. But this means nothing I learnt and I do not look at it any more.
Then there are those pigeons that easily break their last flights.
They may be good birds but I do not want them since they are pure sprint birds.
Their flights easily break since they are not flexible which is a must for birds that have to fly further than 350 kilometres.
See how bended the last flights are after a hard and long race and you know what I mean. If the flights do not bow easily it makes flying much more difficult.
The way the birds get home from a race may also tell you much about the result.
Early birds have more speed and hurry to get in.
And also the face of the fancier may be a hint about how good or bad he performed.
I myself cannot stand losing but very soon it is over. My family certainly does not suffer from my bad mood.
I find some fanciers pitiful creatures.
After a good race you see them in front of their house, at the market, on their bike, in the feed shop; everywhere.
After a bad race they seem to be disappeared from earth. About some I know they are in bed.
Poor fancier and even more poor wife and children.