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A great mystery

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 the 60-ies.

In those days many fanciers did not have a car to toss/train the (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 was 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 I hear rumours in England it is the same.

Even before the racing season most fanciers have lost 50% or even more of their babies.

In the past there were no training races during the week, to-day every province offers fanciers lots of possibilities to enable them to give their birds more experience but it is all useless.

And 2010 is not different from previous years. Fanciers that started with 80 babies and only have 10 left after the first training tosses are no exception.

Understandably these losses are kind of fatal for the sport.

For many they are reason to quit and novices give up after 2 or 3 years.



There was a time that I thought I knew the reason of this phenomenon.

I compared what was different with the past when no birds got lost, and thought I found it.

In the old days there was no radar, no internet, no cell phones, 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 race them in August and September.

But then 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 summer and fall people also use the internet, their cell phones and navigators.

So those things cannot be the reason.



And nearly every body faces the same 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 fanciers should have good birds and will not train birds that are not in good health.

- People who darken lose masses of birds as well as people 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).

The birds get lost from 10 to 150 kilometres, after about 5 races when they are more experienced they seem to be safe.

In the past youngsters mainly got lost in a crystal blue sky.

Nice weather for us humans was killing weather for young birds, to-day 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 but the same people lose many birds the 11th time.



I do not know if this is 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.

I was inspired to write this article by what I heard about a club in 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 breed many babies.

For the first middle distance race this year the entry was hardly 100 birds, while 800 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 Brigitte Bardot on the telly.

I was shocked.

She was the sex symbol of my youth.

Now she has turned into an old lady and becoming old is the fate of all of us if we are lucky. Everything on her body was hanging down.

Parts of the body that hang down by both men and women is kind of symbolic, since down in earth is where we all will end up.  

Hopefully those losses will not contribute to a further decline of our sport.

Shortly after World War 2 Belgium was said to have about 270,000 fanciers.

Today only 30,000 (about 10%) are left.

The last thing we are waiting for is more fanciers to quit.

But as I said, the most tragic thing of these losses is that no one has an explanation, neither the experienced champion, nor the scientist whose passion is pigeons.