Does your wife, your neighbour, your friend, your father or son also find pigeon fanciers special people? Tell them they are right, we are kind of special indeed.
Though it must be said, fanciers in Holland and Belgium do not find themselves special, only foreigners are different in their eyes.
But I would not be surprised if foreigners think the same about us.
HOLLAND AND BELGIUM
What is typical for pigeon sport in Holland but even more Belgium?
Unlike fanciers in other countries they specialise. They focus on:
- Short distance
- Middle distance
- Long distance
- Young bird racing.
And even that is not it:
Most Belgians have two short distance races every Sunday. One from about 130 kilometres and one from about 230. Furthermore, of course, they have a Middle Distance race and one or even two Long Distance races the day before.
While the Belgians split up short distance races, the Dutch split up long distance:
- They have one day races, up to about 700 kilometres.
- And they have "two day races", such as Barcelona, Sint Vincent and so on.
And it takes 2 different types of birds for those different disciplines.
There are pigeons that can win both a one day race and a two day race, but those are exceptions. Normally "two day birds" are of another type with other characteristics. One characteristic of those "two day birds" is that they cannot win a prize at short distance, nor as young birds.
Since the long distance guys know themselves that they have no chance they consider those races no more than training. Many of them do not even clock the birds at shorter distances.
Concerning this I remember what v d Wegen, a long distance champion, once said. He had a bird that arrived pretty early from a Middle Distance race and to my surprise he was not happy with that. "Such a bird cannot possibly be any good at long distance" he said. Van Olmen and Ouwerkerk Dekkers race good at long distance in Belgium. Consequently you do not find their names on the result sheets of short distance races or young bird races.
In the last decade they are mainly the Taiwanese and even more Chinese that came to buy our birds. In the 80-ies or 90-ies this was different. In those days the main buyers were Japanese.
To our surprise most of them only wanted pigeons that performed well at long distance. Later, when we learnt that they focus on long distance in their country, we understood. That was not more than logical.
But Chinese and Taiwanese fanciers is another story.
What the Japanese did, buy long distance birds, was logical. They mainly race long distance. In Taiwan and China however they race youngsters only.
What sense does it make to buy National Ace pigeons at long distance or National winners if you race young birds only, people here ask themselves
National races are long distance races.
And long distance birds produce babies that mature later and do not perform in their year of birth.
For an International Barcelona winner people (Chinese) pay up to 200,000 euros.
I cannot imagine such a bird will ever give one bird that will be any good as a baby.
Antoon and Lucy van der Wegen. One of the best in the history of European
long distance racing. Absolute "no bodies" at sprint or in young bird racing.
The reason is different types of birds and not a different system.
Photo: De Duif.
It is so much smarter to buy say 20 babies for 300 euros each from a Middle Distance champion.
In other words:
- 200,000 euros are paid for just one bird and chances to be successful with their off spring are nil.
- For 6,000 euros (20 babies and 194,000 euros less) chances to be successful are not 20 times higher but much more. There are many fanciers with excellent short distance or middle distance birds but they are just ignored.
Right, special people, pigeon fanciers.
But undoubtedly we Belgians and Dutch have our own defects.
ONE MORE THING
The man that visited me is a very famous Belgian fancier. Recently he sold his babies for THOUSANDS OF EUROS AVERAGE.
Coincidentally also a novice was at my place then. Understandably he was excited to see this famous man.
"We all have to breed many babies to have ONE Super" he said, adding "about 5% of the birds we breed are real good".
"So you have to breed many babies to enhance your chances?" the novice said.
We both nodded.
"I myself breed 200 babies every year" the champ said.
I looked up. "So you breed 10 real good birds every year?" I asked him.
"Of course not", he said. "Who breeds 10 real good birds every year?"
"How many real good birds do you have right now?" I continued.
"Eight" he said, "the youngest is a yearling, the oldest is 4 years old".
"In 4 years time you bred 800 babies and now you have 8 real good birds?"
I asked him. He nodded and I felt he got my point.
Not 5 % of the birds that he bred was real good, but ONE PERCENT.
Still he is a great name, famous all over the world and his birds are a kind of hype.
But only abroad'
Cees Everling, Stickers Donckers and A S. Stickers Donckers is sensational at
short distance and with young birds. A nobody at long distance though.
Photo W de Br
What matters in a discussion like this is of course:
What do you understand by a "good bird"?
What bird do you call "real good".
And when is a bird a super?
A "real good bird" for one fancier may be average for another.
The point is also that every fancier has "his best bird".