The mystery of the losses
In 50 years' time this world has changed a lot and in pigeon sport it is not different.
You simply cannot compare this sport with that of the 60-ies.
In those days many fanciers did not have a car to toss/train their (young) birds but that was no problem.
They took their babies away by bike a couple of times and then they were well prepared to participate the races.
Babies that got lost were something we did not know.
But times have changed.
In recent years losses of babies have become a nightmare for fanciers in Holland,Belgium, Germany and in the UK it seems no different.
Even before the racing season starts many fanciers have lost 50% of their babies or even far more.
In the past there were no training races during the week, today every province offers fanciers lots of possibilities to enable them to give their babies more experience but it is all useless.
And 2010 was not different from previous years. Fanciers that started with 80 babies and only had 10 left after the first training tosses were no exception.
Understandably these losses are killing the fun in this sport for many.
For many they are even reason to quit and novices give up after 2 or 3 years.
There was a time that I thought I knew the reason of those tremendous losses.
I compared what was different from the past.
In the old days there was no radar, no internet, no cell phones, and no navigators.
All that sh*t in the air must be the reason I thought.
But I had to change my mind.
We train (and lose) our early breeds in May and June.
But' For some mysterious reason no birds get lost in August and September.
Therefore some fanciers do not race young birds any more, thus they cannot lose them, they just train them in fall and' no birds get lost then.
But in fall there are only a couple of races till 200 kilometres and the result is that they may lose those birds as yearlings since they have too little experience.
I had to change my mind about the cause of the losses since in fall people also use the internet, their cell phones and navigators.
So those things cannot be the reason.
And nearly every body faces this problem.
- People who often toss their babies lose lots of them as well as people who hardly train them.
- Fanciers who often medicate lose them as well as fanciers who never medicate.
- Great champions lose many babies as well as the common fanciers. And great champions are supposed to have good birds and will not train them if they are not in good health.
- People who darken lose masses of babies well as those who do not darken.
Like I said it is real strange that in late summer and fall no birds get lost any more.
Not even from long distance (500 to 650 kilometres).
Babies get lost in spring from short distances (10 to 150 kilometres).
After about 5 races when they are more experienced fanciers are not worried any ore since their babies seem 'to be safe' then.
Something else is strange as well.
In the past youngsters mainly got lost in a crystal blue sky.
Nice weather for us humans was killing weather for young birds, today they may get lost in any kind of weather.
It is also strange that the situation differs from one area to another.
Especially in the East and North of Holland it is a catastrophe.
Another strange thing is that there are fanciers who tossed their birds 10 times or so without any problems lose the same birds the 11th time.
I do not know if this is a worldwide problem but what I do know is that lack of quality or poor health is NOT the cause.
About 15 stray birds weekly enter my loft and many of them are in perfect health.
Furthermore there are numerous examples such like the following:
A fancier loses a bird, it is reported, the owner picks it up and later on it turns out to be a super.
How serious the situation is is shown by a letter I got from the East of Holland.
The first training race 780 birds were basketed.
Two weeks later, after 3 more training races, only 210 were left.
And then the racing season had not even started.
In the Turnhout area (near the Dutch border) about 40 fanciers are middle distance racers and some of them breed many babies.
For the first middle distance race this year the entry was hardly 100 birds, while 800 birds would be considered as normal.
Those losses are real bad for the birds, for the fanciers and for the sport but the worst thing is that no one has an explanation.
Recently I saw Sharon Stone on the telly.
I was shocked.
She was a sex symbol in my younger years but the years had turned into an old lady.
(In case she will read this, not real old).
Everything on her body was hanging down.
Parts of the body that will hang down when humans get older is kind of symbolic, since down in earth is where we all will end up.
And becoming old is the fate of all of us if we are lucky
Hopefully those losses will not contribute to a further decline of our sport.
Shortly after World War 11 Belgium was said to have about 270,000 fanciers.
Today only 25,000 (about 10%) are left and one third of them is older than 70.
The last thing we are waiting for is a further decline.
But those losses for which no one has an explanation may worsen the fate of this sport that so many people still love.