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A Pigeon called 'Sissi'

I write in several pigeonmagazines all over the world, in fact it has become my living.
When you realise I started writing in 1974 on a weekly base you can imagine how many articles I wrote, not to speak about the Janssenbook. And believe it or not, every time a difficult part of the job is finding a good title.
Finding a subject to write about is not easy either and for that reason I sometimes write about my own pigeons, about my own experiences, my failures and successes.
This article is about a pigeon of mine from 1988 whose band ends in 088.
When trying to find a title for this article I was inspired by the famous American movie ‘A fish called Wanda’. Many pigeons have a name.
I found ‘Sissi’ a good name for that 1988-hen which was a real super!
So when reading further please don’t take me wrong. Do not think I am writing this because I want to sell pigeons as not one child of ‘Sissi’ is for sale.
Don’t think either I write this article with the intention to sell her descendants. This bloodline is so popular in Holland that the demand is higher than the supply so I can sell them, anyway.
I write this is article because it has a moral:
One fancier is smarter than another indeed but in general we know as little about pigeons as Clinton knows about celibacy.
‘We’ that is you, me and the others. Even the greatest champions.
O yes we can see if a pigeon is beautiful.
We can see if a bird has a strong body.
But we cannot see inside the head, if a pigeon is smart. And a pigeon should be smart!
I worked a lot with students, young girls. Some were pretty, others were not, some were smart others were not.

I do not know how it is in Taiwan but in Holland the combination (pretty AND smart) is real rare.
Sometimes you can meet a girl so pretty that every normal man falls for her. But as soon as she opens her mouth it is over.
Such girls do better when they keep their mouths shut.
Smart talk seldom comes out of the mouth of pretty girls.
As for pigeons I have learned to watch out for birds which are pretty.
Because pretty birds which are smart at the same time? That is as rare as pretty girls who are smart.


‘Sissi’ (she died in April 2000) was a breeding miracle.
In 1996 I had 2 first provincial Ace-pigeons (average 11,000 birds in competition) they were brother and sister. This never happened in history.
They were descendants of ‘Sissi’.
I had 6 best pigeons in Combine: All descendants of Sissi.
In 1999 I had again first 2 Acepigeons Provincial (average 10,000 birds in competition) they were descendants of ‘Sissi’.
May 5th of this year (2000) I won 1st against 13,200 pigeons, 7 minutes ahead of the rest in hard weather (98-5812162). He was a descendant of ‘Sissi’.
June 24th 2000 I won from Orleans 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 5th. All descendants of ’Sissi’.
In 1996 I won 1st of 24,000 pigeons in hard weather. This bird called ‘Golden Eye’ is in Taiwan now and was a descendant of ‘Sissi’.
In 1998 Mr Leyten had 2nd World Champion Long Distance (Versele Laga): Descendant ‘Sissi’.
In 1999 Mr de Bruyn had 1st Provincial Ace (5,000 fanciers, ring 1998-1222890) she was also 5th best hen of Holland: Descendant of ‘Sissi’.
He has another hen that won 3 firsts, descendants ‘Sissi’.
Mr Roks won 9 firsts with descendants ‘Sissi’.
Mr van Veen won 1st of 21,000 pigeons. Descendant of ‘Sissi’.
In 1998 I won 8th, 10th, and 13th National Orleans. 3 descendants of ‘Sissi’.
98-5812191 won in 2000 in 5 weeks time 4 first prizes in great competition. He is a descendant of Sissi.
99-1944577 won in 3 different races 14,454 p – 1st, 9.508 p – 1st, S-Nat Oreans 10,500 p – 1st. This 577 is a gr.son of 92-5212278. 278 won 7 first prizes and is a son of Sissi.
In 1999 I had apart from the first 2 Ace pigeons Provincial old birds the 1st Ace youngsters: Shirt Distance: Grandchild Sissi.
I had also 1st Ace youngsters Middle Distance: Grandchild Sissi.
In 2000 Mr v d Zijde has a bird that won at long distance 1st, 1st, 2nd. Two first prizes with 20 minutes advance and it is candidate to be National Ace long distance. Again a grandchild of ‘ Sissi’.
I stop because it is going to be boring but I could make this list much longer.
Once again, this is no propaganda, so do not stop reading as the interesting thing is yet to come, including the answer to the question: ‘How do you get such a superbird?’
That is a pretty long story but it is educational. Here we go.


There are many things in which I am bad. But I am not bad in everything. In Holland I have the reputation that I am always the first to find new stars. Is this luck? Partly but not all.
I do not read reports about champions in our sport as these reporta are often paid propaganda in order to sell babies. Moreover the results are seldom complete which means they are correct but misleading..
I am not interested in birds of a Champion because in some areas in Holland and Belgium competition is so poor that an average fancier can be a champion.
I am not interested in the pigeons of a man who won a National race. Because what is the value of his pigeons when he entered 60 birds and won apart from his first prize National just a handful of prizes?
You must know that in Holland or Belgium 1 in every 3 birds in a race wins a prize.
So 1200 birds in a race? That means 400 prizes.
A person who races 15 birds should win 5 prizes. Then he is average. If he wins less his result is poor. If he wins 12 prizes of 15 birds entered he is good. If he wins 12 prizes of 80 birds he entered his result is poor!
Moreover there is another thing that we in Europe know but you cannot know:
The circumstances of a National race.
When there is a west wind the winner is bound to be a fancier who lives in the Eastern part of the country, so near the German border.
When there is a west wind the pigeon that won the 20th prize National has done far better than the winner if the fancier who won 20th prize lives in the western part of the country.
Because the weather circumstances were against this bird.


How come then that I have often been lucky when buying birds?
I get the COMPLETE results of many provinces and combines in Holland and Belgium and study them carefully.
Abroad people see the top-prizes and not more. For me this is not good enough.
I will give you an example of what I mean.
Take a race with 1,200 birds in competition and M X won 1st and 2nd.
Mr X will be in all the newspapers.
His results seems impressive indeed but this changes from impressive to horrible when one sees that he entered 60 birds and won only 6 prizes.
But foreigners cannot see that.
In the same race Mr Y may have won 12th, 15th and 20th prize. Mr Y’s name will not be mentioned in any magazine. But he was no less than sensational when he only entered 3 birds in that race!
To judge how good a fancier in Holland and Belgium is you absolutely must know how many birds he entered, how strong the competion is and his location
I am sure that if people abroad would see all the results of some great names here their eyes would pop out. But I was talking about ‘Sissi’ and for that we have to go back in history.


In 1991 I heard rumours about a cock in Belgium which bred many Superbirds. I went up to the owner with an American friend of mine. We asked the Belgian guy: ‘How much do you
charge for a youngster off of your Supercock?’
We swallowed when we heard the price. The man must have seen our surprise and said ‘Okay, I will give you a hen free.’
We bought the birds, each of us paid 50 procent and we would share the babies.
Back home we opened the basket to have another look at the 2 birds. They even seemed to look uglier than before.
‘I am sorry’ my American friend said, ‘such birds just cannot be any good, do you care if I pass?
‘No problem’ I said and gave him back the money he already paid me.
‘What a dummy I am’ I thought before going to bed. ‘How could I waste money for such rubbish?’ And I swore to be more careful in future when spending money on birds to improve my family.
Anyway I had no other choice than to breed babies of the 2 uglies.


The babies off of the cock I bought from that superbreeder looked bad but not too bad.
The first babies I bred of the hen (‘Sissi’) were horrible and I eliminated them.
The following babies were just as horrible but I could not kill them all, could I?
However I was lucky. At least that’s what I thought. One of her babies got lost and I was relieved. ‘One bad pigeon less to feed.’
But imagine my surprise when some days later a guy from Hamburg (Germany) phoned me. He had a baby of mine in his loft. I asked for the bandnumber and was happy. It was a child of ‘Sissi’. ‘The bird is yours’ I told the German. ‘You may keep it.’
This was a decent way to get rid of birds I did not like I thought.
But imagine my surprise 2 days later. The bird, only 10 weeks old was back in my loft. He made it without any training all the way from Hamburg to my town, no less than 600 kilometers. Can you believe it?
This bird was 92-5212278. Later on he would win 7 races among which 2 provincials in 2 weeks’ time. Mr Timmermans got a baby from this 278.
It became father of his 99-1944577 which won:
14,454 pigeons – 1st
9.508 pigeons – 1st
10.500 pigeons – 1st

In 1992 another important thing happened.


There is this Japanese importer who is always seeking for something new.
He does not want birds from great names but from small unknown fanciers. At that time he had never heard about the Belgian where I got Sissi. I told him about the man and said I had 2 birds of his best bloodline.
He is a nice Japanese so I also warned him these birds were not goodlooking as I did not want to disappoint him.
He had much confidence in me and said: ‘Ship me the birds’ and that’s what I did.
Time went by and… the children of Sissi won everything for me.
‘What did I do to ship these pigeons to Japan? What a fool I am’ I moaned.
This was the biggest mistake I ever made in my life.
Strangely enough for a long time I heard nothing from my Japanese client.
So I faxed him: ‘How come I do not hear from you?’ ‘What’s wrong?’ ‘Is there a problem?’
Then he faxed me about the 2 pigeons I shipped him. He should have taken my words that they were ugly more serious. Everybody who saw these birds began to laugh and he could not sell one baby of them. He was about to kill them.
I said: ‘I am sorry’, (but my heart beated fast for joy) and added ‘I do not want to disappoint you and I will repay the money. But you must send the birds back to Holland.’
You cannot imagine how happy he was.
And you cannot imagine how happy I was. This was the best thing that ever happened to me in pigeonsport.
‘Sissi’ came back to Holland. I started breeding from her again and the result you could read before. Later I did another good thing.


I sell pretty many birds to Dutch and Belgian fanciers but in those days, 1993 and 1994 they wanted all my birds apart from the descendants of Sissi. They did not like the dark blue colour and they were too small.
No problem I thought.
But in 1995 the fame of the descendants of ‘Sissi’ spread like wild fire. In that year I won one race after the other against many thousands of birds, the winners were all descendants of ‘Sissi’. And suddenly everybody wanted ‘Sissi-stuff’.
In 1996 I had 4 summerbreds of her.
Great Belgian names offered much money for them and I did another good thing: Not fall for the money and keep the birds for myself.


It stands to reason that later on I went to the man again where I got ‘Sissi’ to buy more birds. None of them were any good.
Also the American guy and the Japanese importer realised what a big mistake they made and even bought brothers and sisters of ‘Sissi’.
None of them was able to breed any good baby and… they sold them to Taiwan !!


A: To get a good bird you need luck. And if you bought pigeons which are no good this does not mean you were cheated. When a pigeon is super it does not necessarily mean her brothers and sisters are also super. Even ‘Sissi’ bred me bad birds.
B: What do we know about pigeons? The Belgian guy would never have given me Sissi if he had known it was such a good bird. The great Champions who wanted my pigeons but not those of ‘Sissi’ before 1995 were all wrong in judging the quality of birds. They wanted her children when it was too late and I did not sell them any more.
C: You are never sure about the quality of a bird but that is the nice thing about pigeonsport. If we could see a pigeon was good the superbirds would soon be in the hands of people with money.
D: Most descendants of Sissi are pretty small, especially the hens, but their performances are best in hard races. I think the modern winners in pigeonsport are of the smaller type. This is a contrast with some decades ago, then the birds were bigger. Beware of big pigeons in hard races! It is the smaller types which are often the strongest.
E: Forgive me that I mentioned my results. I just wanted to open the eyes of novices and losers sothat they may be winners in future!