During this past weekend‘s Dixie Southern Pigeon Racing Association convention in Jacksonville, I met participants in this sport who are educators, builders, retirees, writers, engineers, sales people – all kinds of people.
This sport waned for a while in the United States but appears to be gaining in popularity here. Sometimes 4-H'ers use pigeon breeding and racing as a project.
There are pigeon breeders and racers from all across the United States and throughout the world. As mentioned in an earlier post, Queen Elizabeth II is an avid participant in this hobby. Her loft manager, Carlo Napolitano and his wife, Judy, were at the Jacksonville convention.
Pigeon fanciers have lofts in which they breed, feed and care for pigeons. Typically, he or she takes the pigeons a short distance from home for them to fly back to their lofts. Gradually, the pigeons are taken longer and longer distances away and then released to fly home. The birds have an innate sense allowing them to return; most believe this has to do with the earth’s magnetic fields. Whatever the reason, the pigeons remarkably return to their lofts.
The homing pigeons are banded at an early age – perhaps around five days old. The band is a permanent one so that pigeons may be tracked.
The Dawg (see previous posts about him) has been a pigeon fancier since the age of 12. He has a loft in the backyard and has about 30 pigeons, although he has had many more in the past. His pigeons have been in demand. He has sold them to people in Ohio, California, Taiwan and many other places. He and other pigeoneers keep accurate records of the pedigree of each pigeon.
The annual conventions are highlighted by races, although there are similar events in various clubs throughout the year.
This sport is thousands of years old and has been part of several civilizations. During war time, pigeons have been used to carry messages (carrier pigeons.)
There are other occasions in which pigeons are featured. Often when people believe doves are released at weddings, funerals and other events, they are actually seeing white pigeons.
Whether racing, carrying messages or being released at other events, they all fly home once again. Jiggedy jog!
Left or Center: Derek, The Dawg, John & Pam in front of pigeons the night before the race.
Bottom or Center: Jennifer, Bob & Derek after the races in Jacksonville.
Top or Right: Carlo Napolitano, loft manager for the Queen of England, talks with another pigeon fancier.