The future of the racing pigeons sport

Fanciers talk about the death of the racing pigeons sport. Is it coming to an end? There aren’t many kids starting with pigeons nowadays. What are the reasons?

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1. Too expensive?
2. Too much work & time consuming?
3. It’s not “cool”?
4. People don’t care about animals as much as the older generations did?
5. Computer games and other attractions?

These can be *some* reasons but they are not the strongest. I think we, the pigeon fanciers are too busy with our pedigrees and race results and don’t have the time to notice that most of the people DON’T KNOW ANYTHING about the racing pigeons and the fun and excitement they can get with racing pigeons. For them, all the pigeons are the same flying rats, just some stupid birds and we are crazy guys with too much time on our hands, playing with the birds daily and staring at the sky for hours.

It’s only our fault. Take the web for example. How do we promote the racing pigeons sport ONLINE? By creating personal websites, right? Nope. What do 99% of the racing pigeons websites have in common? They are all BORING for someone who doesn’t know anything about pigeons. Our websites are created for other fanciers ONLY. I tried to find a place online, just a SINGLE TINY place somewhere, a website that would promote the hobby of racing pigeons and that would show the world the great stuff hidden behind this fascinating creature which we all love, the RACING PIGEON. Well, I didn’t find such a place!

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We only care about the next race, we are only focused on the dusty pedigrees, pigeon auctions and race results, and we carry all this on the web. We even avoid to display the pigeon in it’s natural environment, shape and behavior. We produce “dolls”, cutout model pigeon bodies on white backgrounds, eventually joined by a pigeon EYE which means NOTHING for the non-fancier. Then we attach a puzzling pedigree with 20 branches, all described in the most secret expert language we can get. Many popular pigeon sites are stuffed with auctions and race results, and on some of them, you don’t even see a picture of a pigeon!!!

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When I was a kid, pigeons were a great attraction and many kids were starting in the hobby. Well, indeed, there were no computer games or the internet, and all the other stuff that the young generation is focused on nowadays. I’m also a computer games enthusiast but I think that racing pigeons are cooler! We must tell the world about it if we want to keep the sport alive. I will try this on the website, but it’s not enough… each of YOU must keep in mind that it’s our duty to promote the sport and try to bring new people in. Am I wrong? Is there something better we can do?

Any ideas are really appreciated.

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A short story written by me on another website a few years ago:

I have to write my personal example because it’s very recent and on-topic. A 12 years old kid in my town found a baby pigeon in the street. He took it home. Hosted in the attic, the bird started to fly and of course came back, – isn’t that cool? – so, a few more pigeons were brought in the team. Later the little guy contacted me online for some pigeon advices…and soon, I told him a short description of the racing pigeons sport. He was delighted. I also offered him some birds from my loft, and now he’s the youngest member in our club. Our club will send the birds for the second training tomorrow. He’s looking forward to sending them, he didn’t have any losses for the first training, all his 16 youngsters came home. I was told that his parents aren’t very happy with his new hobby but he’s doing fine. I told him about the racing food mix, and he immediately sold his cell phone and bought 2 sacks! This is when the racing pigeons enter your blood. There’s no way back. They are cooler than all the PC games out there ;). You should have seen him carrying the pigeons basket to the club, it was almost bigger than him.

This was my tiny example. Think about it. He became a fancier just by chance, finding that baby pigeon on the street.

By the way, as a final note: although websites and media can help, the BEST GUARANTEED way to help a kid discover pigeons and fall in love with them is to give him a pair of young birds. It seems like the feeling of the bird in your hands and taking care of them for a few days really makes you fall in love with the PIGEON.

32 Comments

  1. Andrei

    A really good article about this, written by Dr. Wim Peters can be found at: http://www.pigeonland.co.uk/article_read.asp?item=46

    Lack of young beginners

    When visiting friends not involved in the pigeon sport, it is appalling to see how little chance there is that their young children will one day keep a few pigeons. Sad to say but the days of backyard lofts is fast disappearing. In my day, most young boys had a dog and many kept a few pigeons in some apple boxes hastily hammered together. These have now disappeared. Municipal bylaws have made it very difficult to build anything but a neatly constructed sturdy loft – and this costs money, which usually runs the whole venture into difficulties with the head of the household. The other big problem that exists for schoolboys is the shortage of time. After school there is organised school sport, computer mania, television and homework etc., the combination of which often do enough to douse any flickering little flame of love for pigeons. In addition there is nowadays an almost total loss of contact with nature. There is no appreciation for the beauty of pigeons – how could there be if there never is any contact with the birds? There is no wonder at the mystery of homing – how could there be if the kids never experience it? There is no desire to see pigeon how breeding works; to see how reds and blue bars can produce mealy’s and checkers – how could there be if the only pigeons they see are street ferals?

    I do not have a solution for the problem. I can only suggest that any statement made by youngsters suggesting just an inkling of interest be met with kindness and understanding. I am sure that an invitation to one’s own loft would be thankfully accepted. Great is my admiration for the members of those pigeon clubs that instigate junior clubs. To allow young boys (and girls) to compete at an early age will ensure that they’ll return to the game in later life. It does not matter that as young adults they show no desire to come back. They’ll come in their own time. The bite of the pigeon bug lasts a lifetime!

    This is reflected in an analysis of recruits to the pigeon sport as experienced in North-East England. In this part of the world many retiring men who had pigeons as boys but had no opportunity to practise racing during a busy working life, return to the sport. With time on their hands and money to fly their pigeons, these very often early retired, retrenched or medically boarded fanciers rejoin the ranks of the racing fancy.

  2. Shawn

    I think you make a good point that “No one knows about the sport”. However I do question if the lack of publicity is a new problem? I think from our perpective as members of the racing community we see our numbers declining every year, mostly due to age or death in combination with only a fraction of new enthuesists. We assume that the public used to have a better understanding of the sport, and that assumption then idicates that years past we have done a better job in creating awareness and that the presence of awareness brings new flyers. Although I will agree that awareness is an aid to recruiting, I would argue that it is not as important as the “old flyer”s personal influence. The lack of publicity is a symptom to a larger problem that I think you started to address in your article when you metioned attitudes. As in the general trend of North America, this generation and the next will be the first that will not recieve the promise of greater prosparity than our fathers had. We are witnessing the bursting of the bubbes. Boombers, Housing, Markets, Good paying jobs, and family struture are all going down hill as shown when looking at our standard of living. There’s the bad news, now the good news. Our surroundings and obsticles that we face make life more difficult but they are not exuses to fail. This is why I agree with you when you say that our community in general doesn’care. It is true. Prehaps because of the blessings of old times they didn’t have to care in order to sustain the sport. But in these fragile days these attitudes will destory us in little time. We need to care and not pretend to care in promoting organizations with dry facts, fancy pictures and clever advertising skeems. These methods are not the way people will fall in love with pigeons, but these ways are encouraged in our communities and those that do such things are looked to as our saviors; I think, although good intentioned, these efforts mirely provide us a way in which we can hide behide our desk, computer, and programs in order to feel justified that we tried. This is living in denile; we find ourselves blaming the obsticles like saying “it’s the young peole of today” wich are just defense mechanism designed so that we can remain safe. What each us needs to do is get our hands dirty and accually speak to our neigbours, make relationships, seek those who this sport might be good for, not just for our sake but for thiers. Then when we find them or they find us, serve them, teach them, and they will learn to do the same. Just look at any sports team that you first joined when you were a kid. Why did you join? Because either your parents wanted you to or you knew someone that you wanted to play with. Pigeons are no different. Did you fall in love with the sport from a book?, maybe video, or seminar…no you had of some kind of coach, somebody took somewhat of an interest in you and taught or encouraged you. I believe that if we can teach the pigeon world how to coach others, then we will see this sport explode. That ofcourse means that we will have to change our attitudes of winning comes first, whording secrets, being cheap, and remaining where it is comfortable. I think we would all agree that the pigeon community where these values are adopted will grow to become the future of our sport. That’s why we, the soon to be “elders” of the sport, need to start building these communities today, by starting first within our own clubs, joining forces in encouraging each other, especailly the beginner or the interested. Then hopefully together we can involve our neighbours and beyond.

  3. Andrei

    Very good point – you don’t fall in love with a sport or hobby from a book. Never. Anyway, I do believe that nowadays there are less chances for someone to become addicted to pigeons because there too many other attractions.

    I also think that not everybody was born “ready for pigeons”.

    Here’s a fact. When I was a kid, I became attracted to pigeons by simply seeing a flock flying over my garden everyday. Although the owner was a grumpy old man and ignored me, I started keeping pigeons on my own. Recently, I met his little grandson. I told him that his grandpa was a pigeon fancier and it would be cool if he would have pigeons too. I wanted to offer him some youngsters but he said “no thanks”. One of my neighbors also has 2 kids. They see my pigeons daily flying over their garden, they see them sunbathing on the roof, and so on, but guess what – it’s like the pigeons are invisible. They don’t even blink when the pigeons fly over their heads. They are too focused on discussing the latest computer game, soccer scenes or God knows what else.

    This is why I am not very optimistic about the future of this hobby.

  4. Sean

    I got interested in pigeons two years ago. I Read up on the hobby of keeping pigeons, and then a year later, I got two pairs of ukrainian highflyers (which I put in my treehouse that I made in to a pigeon coop.) I’m only 10 now, but i’ve already got 15 pigeons.

    I’ve tried to get my friends interested (and they do get really exited,) but most of them have problems with their yards or their neighbourhood (angry neighbours, neighbourhood cats, too many trees, uncertain parents, too much of a comitement.)
    But what I’m thinking of doing is breeding more pigeons and then selling them (for free) in specific pairs (male+male, female+female, male+female) along with a sturdy plywood home and a small bag of food (and a water container + basic information.)
    I think that it really would be cool to go back to the way it was in the 1970’s (Belgium) when racing pigeons was the #1 sport and 1 in 4 people owned at least a pair of pigeons.

    If there are any kids (or even adults) reading this right now, I would really suggest getting at least a pair of pigeons (two females if you dont want them to breed) and keeping them in a box outside and letting them fly around every day because this is the best hobby that I’ve ever run in to.

  5. sai lee

    Hi I’m only 16 years old and I just love all my homing pigeon they are like fasts thing in the sky to me. For me I just can’t wait to see my pigeon come home from a training toss. I dont race yet but I am hoping to race in the next year with a club near me.Pigeon racing is a very fun sprots for me.

  6. Joanna

    I’m foutneen and I only found out about pigeon sport from my mother’s friend. I found it so amazing, two years on, and I have finally earned my chance to get my own loft and a few pigeons. My mother only just let me start and it took me alot of time and learning to convince her I am amazed by the sport. Your words are so true. Thank You for making such a website.
    Yours gratefully
    A young pigeon maniac.

  7. Jack Dillon

    Its sad that there is so much apathy about the future of Pigeon Racing or just pigeon keeping in general,I agree with a lot of whats already been mentioned, ie After school activities and computer games etc,i grew up in Dublin in the fifties, and pigeon keeping was huge back then,Small backyard lofts were the thing in those days, a real working man’s hobby.

    I had a little loft on the scullery roof filled with common pigeons and the occasional stray racing pigeon that i used to snare up at Guinness Brewery,the thrill of catching a racer and showing it off to your mates was something else.Us pigeon fanciers spoke in a language of our own, other kids didn’t know what a beller was?{a racer from northern Ireland}Yes those were the days when life for a city kid was filled with simple pleasures.

    The love of pigeons is with you forever,I’m back keeping pigeons for four years now, and i still enjoy being around them as much as i did when i was a kid.

    I think the various pigeon organisations could do more by way of promoting the sport of pigeon racing ie publish the big race results in the local papers,that way, the public are aware that such a sport exists, not enough media publicity is partly to blame for the decline of pigeon racing in Ireland and England down the years,almost every successful sporting body has an elected PR manager working on behalf of its members,pharmaceutical companies that specialise in pigeon medicine and feed manufactors dont do enough to premote the sport to the broader public.The old fanciers might say,{yes we can}
    Yours in the Fancy Jack Dillon.

  8. Andrei

    The comments above were posted on my old website racing-pigeons.org which I deleted, and I didn’t want to lose these comments.

    Keep the ideas coming, let’s bring more people in the hobby of racing pigeons!

  9. RAYBIEN

    TALKING ABOUT THE FUTURE OF RACING PIGEON. I’M PLANNING TO JOIN A CLUB NEXT YEAR.HOW MUCH IT WILL COST ME? FROM APPLICATION FEE,RACING FEE ETC.

  10. Andrei

    RAYBIEN, that’s great. You have to find the club that is closest to your home and contact them to tell you the costs. They are very different from location to location, country to country, etc. It’s easier to find the club if you ask other fanciers you meet around.

  11. i read your short story .i am from pakistan my friend gave me a pair of pigeons this is the start of my hobby .i put them in a box for few days then i make a loft for them know after 3 years i have 3 lofts and more than 60 pigeons.in my city it is very difficult to take such a hobby because ther we have no any stores for pigeons medicines or for good pigeons food.we gave tham some local old medicines some are uesful and most of them are useless..we dont use these modern things you use for giveing food or water to your pigeons we used those things which are made for other birds like i used waker bottle made for Chickens,

  12. Andrei

    Hi Zeeshan,

    Nice to hear about this hobby in different locations! Don’t worry, I think that old-fashioned methods of raising pigeons are BEST – you will enjoy this hobby more. Regarding medication, you don’t really need it! (please read http://www.pigeonmania.com/tiny-loft-fascinating-original-pigeon-racing-method ). All you need is clean water and food (local works just fine), dry lofts and do not overcrowd birds. They will build natural immunity. The birds that adapt will remain and will breed youngsters that are strong like them.

    I almost gave up medication entirely for the last 2 years.

    Thanks for sharing your point of view.

  13. Craig

    Great Website.The future of pigeon racing,as with everything in life is down to education.We can be proud as winners but everyone has to take part.The joy of keeping the animal,rearing youngsters and seeing them make it is fine reward,thats what keeps us going.Remember this,`if pigeons were good enough for mike tyson they`re good enough for me`.Ironically he probably had more peace and enjoyment than he ever had being world heavyweight champion.

  14. Tony

    My dad raced pigeons when I was a kid and was very good at it. I am 40 now and finally have a job and property that allows me to have pigeons. I can’t wait!

  15. Looking forward to keeping Pigeons, mainly White Racers for Release at weddings etc.Need to learn a lot about their upkeep and general Health and prevention of conditions that may effect the flock in General.Most hobbies now have the same problem as being discussed on this site, as few younger people are taking up the hobby, and although fanciers help beginners, sometimes when they think they’ve developed an ”eye”, they try go it themselves, run into problems and burn their bridges with the fancier who gave them birds and time,so can’t return for help.One fancier then lost, through their own fault!!!!

  16. narish

    hi im narish sollestre i live in philippines there too many pigeon club here im 17 years old and sorry for my english cause i cant speak clear i have 30 birds 15 flyer and 15 breeders i started to pigeon when im 14 and im happy when they are flying too long and so up when i know the race procedure i join 1st the training exercise for pigeons this exercise will try the pigeon for long distance and after all the training i join the race with 5 old pigeon i conditioned them by my expirience when i join the race im so excited im at the roof of my loft and looking in the sky and wait for my pigeon to get the code on the ring then after 1 hour i see so many pigeon going to north then a minute my pigeons is arrived and i caught them then i get the got im got the 2nd only but im happy for the 1st time i join i win expirience,hapiness,excitement,cash,pride thats all thank you keep the pigeons fly high god bless all PHIL 58246

    ITS GOOD TO START TO PLAY PIGEON AS WELL BECAUSE THEY WILL KNOW THE GOOD AND BAD IN THE WAY OF RASING PIGEONS
    YOU ALL ADD ME IN FACEBOOK narish_dj@yahoo.com
    i love racing pigeon
    this is my game my passion my hobby

    1 game 1 passion racing pigeon
    is the best

    pigeons have so many difficulties in race in the sky in my expirience i got 10 young birds to train the for long distance because i fnished the short and medium course when its 8am the 4 pigeons arrived the another one named is lightning is arrived at 12pm i confused if why he arrived at late and i check him for vitamins i see a wound over his wing i see a hole a bullet hole i dont know what to do i go to veterinary to check and the bullet is get on the body its good that he arrived because some of pigeons died when the shot and lightning have 2 sons to feed so i think thats why he get home thank you
    all

  17. jodanl labayna

    when im a kid i start collecting pigeon i dont know what blood line i breed. now i have learn ! have a clean loft every day and you gonna have a nice race result it put aways all the stress when ur looking at it

  18. jodanl labayna

    my dad is a pigeon lover he always in his loft every morning ,feeding, clening his loft one day i ask him?!what is satisfacton you get in racing pigeon? he answer me with a smile.and he told me it remove my stess .seing his pigeon come home from a far place make his day complete .

  19. It is just too expensive.
    As a 18yr guy, I myself struggle to obtain some GOOD stock with out paying for with an arm and an leg.
    As there are many young people into racing pigeon but the idea of not having a chance of competing destroys their excitement in racing pigeon.

  20. Webmaster

    You have to find some honest good fliers that will offer eggs from their widowhood birds, that is the most cheap option. Become friends with honest fanciers, they aren’t all pigeon-businessmen and some of them are really good.

    For example when I started I got my best birds as gifts from a guy at the club that I raced against and I beat him with his own birds. :) I also BOUGHT birds from him but I lost them, so some people do offer quality birds as gifts.

  21. Charlie Hall

    Why not try local television to announce race results and perhaps have a regular pigeon feature – say half an hour once a week? After all they do it for canal boats, caravans, and fishing so why not pigeon racing?
    Unless the picture that many people have today of the pigeon being a scrawny, disease ridden, filthy pest is dispelled then no future interest is going to be created. That would be a pity. There’s so much pleasure to be had from raising a youngster and watching it mature. There’s pride in seeing it return from its first race even if it doesn’t win and there’s a sense of achievement when you start to pick up prizes. I raced pigeons many years ago. Regretfully my health and financial circumstances prevent me from doing it now but I’ll never forget the sense of anticipation when waiting patiently beside the loft on a Saturday afternoon. It was magic.

  22. Yaset

    i think it has a lot to do with what you where taught when you where little. i’m from cuba and since not every body can have video games. pigeons over there are a major sport we have racing pigeons but the most commun is the horseman thief pouter.

  23. Bob May

    The fact is the sport was never that popular. I toured the mining villages of the North East in the 1940s with my father who sold household goods door-to-door. Being a boy of 8-9- 10-11, I was dead keen on all aspects of pigeon keeping and racing and was keen to view and visit coal miners lofts. To be frank we rarely saw any. And I’m talking Blackhall Colliery, Easington Colliery and places like Trimdon. The same when years later I visited Cardiff and the Welsh valleys and Belgium and the Kortrik pigeon hotspot areas. The reason for this is a typical mining village had 6 local fanciers and another 8 – 10 out in the wilds so it was’nt exactly bouncing with pigeon activity. Pigeon fanciers then had the ‘anti-social stigma of keeping pigeons or of being known to race them. No one said anything but the back street gossips 250+ had a field day. In a way what they said made sense, they said “Fancy wasting your time and money on racing pigeons when [his] children need clothes, shoes and food in there stomachs. Another problem was the sort of man who kept pigeons also frequented pubs, gambled on horses and had a few personal vices which pointed him out to the neighbour’s as [in their own words] not-a-full-shilling. Newcomers to the sport were treat rather shabbily by the other members. They had to learn to be very diplomatic indeed at club meetings, in fact to shut up and say now’t and heaven forbid they should buy good birds, erect a nice loft or be serious contenders for top club honours. If this was the case then more often than their birds got stolen, the loft set on fire and the club would be quickly disbanded and then reformed again shortly thereafter with ‘this better-class newcomer’ refused membership. Lets take ‘helping the club to raise funds’. Big mistake, if you did this you soon found that you were doing everything yourself, if you organised a young bird sale then it was you and you only, your so called club mates didn’t attend the sale, didn’t buy any birds and the carping [at you] soon got out of hand and as every one knows those who spoke the loudest won all the arguments and ‘invariably did the least amount of club work. Apart from all this you were responsible for feeding and watering the birds, for cleaning them out, and human nature being w hat it is having the heartbreak of losing quite a lot of favourite youngsters, to rub it in in a little you soon discovered the local cat was ‘out to get you’, a ferret or wild mink could soon wipe you out and a bag of corn didn’t last a week. Worse still at least a 25% of the pedigrees you were supplied with when you bought birds in the UK were completely fictitious, and if you bought Belgian birds it was 75% untrue if you had paid good money for them. Take it from me if your pedigree says from De Grand Old Champion when paired to a daughters of De 1st national De-Holland is all holy-baloney. You soon learn the Belgies sell racing pigeons that have won races to the local butcher for £1.00 each at the end of the year and ‘conning English fanciers is the national sport. One well known Begian fancier toured farms and small lofts buying scemmies which he re-sold as the real thing. Another Belgian family of brothers ended up worth fortunes out of passable-sprinters. And in the UK a well known breeding establishment have 6 large barns in which loose pigeons fly all over the place mating at will and this is their select breeding establishment. This is the pigeon sport. And ask yourself why each year do so many top-class fanciers pack it in?

  24. I my self was a big fan of a homing pigeons,It’s hard for me to express my story in English since its not my born language,Just to infrom you all. Here in my country(philippines) The Fanciers are still alive, young as 7y/o, even though they are not a member of those expensive clubs, still they manage to take care of Racing Pigeons, up to 4pairs.
    Long live for all the Fanciers!

  25. Hugh McCann

    I have read some of the comments on this site and it is great to see so many young people from different nationalities keen on the sport. I raced pigeons in Dublin many years ago in two clubs. The sport was very popular in those days and competition strong. I have been out of the sport for many years and live in Canada. I would eventually like to return to the sport. I find the sport has become very expensive and I think this has a negative effect on people getting involved. Money plays an important part in this sport in buying good stock as a foundation. I do agree with this but prices of birds has become somewhat out of the reach of people both young and not so young. To me it will always remain a great hobby and a great sense of joy when your birds return from an upland race or overseas race. Pigeon fanciers need to start looking at the sport as a hobby and not focusing in on the financial aspect alone. I do hope the sport survives for a long time to come.
    Regards Hugh.

  26. alex garcia

    This is a great hobbie (racing homers) My first yr was in 2011 and I am hook. These bird love to fly, and when release in a test fly or race they can’t wait to get home.The young bird season has about 12 races. They start at 100 miles, and I had one win first place out of 521 bird in a 200 mile race. , I had no idea that this bird was going to do so good. I call him Lucky U. I also call my loft that name. Florida is a great place for this sport. I hope this sport grows allot more.

  27. TONY

    G,DAY EVERYONE I HAVE HAD PIGEONS SINCE I WAS 6 YEAR OLD IAM 46 NOW NEVER BEEN WITH OUT THEM CAN NT LIVE WITH OUT THEM ONCE YOUR HOOKED ON PIGEONS ITS LIKE A MARRIAGE TILL DEATH DO US PART GOOD LUCK WITH YOUR PIGEONS CHEERS

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