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The REAL secret

I do not often go on a holiday, but this never was a problem.

If the weather is nice I bike the stress away from me in the beautiful nature.

The bad thing about these trips is the numerous EMPTY lofts you see.

In some streets in some little towns you can see how popular this sport once was.

There is still a loft behind nearly every house, but as I said: empty.

In 2006 however I went for a holiday and believe it or not, a Four Star hotel, driver, interpreter, guide and so on were all paid by a fellow fancier.

Am I a lucky guy?

Hmmm. Maybe. First read my story.


It was four years ago that a foreigner sent me one mail after the other.

He was desperate. He had spent fortunes on birds from Belgian champions but nevertheless he could not win a decent prize, even worse, he became the joke in his club with his expensive birds that he had bought from great names.

He asked me one question after the other; about feeding, medication, lofts and so on.

I tried to help but in vain.

When he got at his wit’s end he asked me to fly over and select his birds.

He could not believe none of them were any good and all champions he got birds from had cheated on him.

If I would come he would pay for my cost. 

I thanked him politely, said I hate flying and that I could not see if a bird was any good.

‘But’, he moaned, ‘you once wrote you could see if a bird was bad’.

I once wrote that indeed.

Some birds have such great short comings that they just cannot be any good.

His following question was if HE might pay me a visit with his birds. He would have to make a double trip of 1,500 kilometres by car but that was no big deal.

I could live with that provided he would not stay long.


We agreed on a day, he would be at my place at 2.00 p.m. and indeed on that day at 2.00 p.m. sharp the bell rang, but… I saw it was a truck that had stopped.

‘Tell him or them I am not home’ I asked the wife.

But it was HIM and why he had come by truck became clear soon.

One basket after the other was unloaded till my yard looked like a release station.

I frowned.

‘Have you also brought birds of friends?’ I asked.

But they were all his, 287 total and he wanted me to reduce this amount to 100.


‘Why 100?’ I asked him.

He shrugged.

What I did then is what I seldom do; I invited him to have a look in my loft.

Though my (old) birds had performed fantastic again no more than 4 cocks and 7 hens were left.

Questioningly he looked at me and questioningly I looked at him.

Then I asked him if he had a moment and drove to the local pigeon shop as fast as I could and asked for 300 plastic bands in the colours red, white and blue.

Back home I said:

‘Look, I will handle all the birds, those that I like will get a blue band, those that I do not like a red one and the others, the doubtful birds, a white one.

Keep the birds with a blue band, get rid of those with a red one and as for the others I  leave it up to you.


‘But watch out’, I went on, ‘a blue band does not necessarily mean a good bird, it just MAY BE a good one, birds with a red band however have so many defects that they are bound to be bad’.

He understood and handed me the birds one by one.

I could not help looking at the bands and found he had brought all kinds of birds.

From Holland and Belgium (birds that he had bought) but also their off spring, late breeds with the bands of his country that he wanted to put in the stock loft.

Furthermore real old birds that had nothing proven anything yet. 


Three hours later I had seen many impressing pedigrees and even more birds that just could not be any good, since they had no balance, hard feathers, poor bones and so on.

His problem was he could not get rid of them, since he loved them too much and had paid for them.

His wife, she was with him, nodded as if she wanted to say ‘how right you are’.

She was clearly sick of that big army and the money he had wasted on them.

‘If you really want to be a good racer get rid of most of them, regardless the price you paid or the origin’ I advised him.

Finally about 30 (10 % only) were acceptable, the others I had put on either a white band or a red one.

When we said good bye I could hardly believe he would follow my advice but much to my surprise only some days later I got a mail that he had only 30 birds left indeed.

One year later I got a mail that his birds had performed real well and last year the news was that he had become the local champion.

He was the happiest person in the world and invited me to visit his country.

So this is the story about how you can get a free holiday due to stupid plastic bands.


In pigeon sport people often talk about secrets.

I know one: A ruthless selection.

One of my sayings is:

‘If you want to be successful breed many birds, race many and get rid of many’, thus you will inevitably end up having good birds or no birds, but personally I prefer no birds to bad ones.

‘Cull the bad pigeons, sell the good ones and keep the supers’ is also one of my slogans. 

It is a well known fact that is often the same people that perform well year after year.

It is those people that may sell all their birds, if they start again they will perform as well as before real soon.

I mentioned real old birds that had not proven anything.

If I see such old timers in a stock loft I wonder what they are doing there. Birds that are 4 years old and never gave a good baby do not belong in the breeding loft. Their place is Heaven (or hell, if you prefer).


That is IT, dear reader.

Do not believe in well kept secrets but in well bred birds and realise that ‘a good pedigree’ does not mean ‘a good bird’.

In Holland there is a saying ‘good blood never lies’.

As for me, that is one of the biggest lies in pigeon sport.