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Sadness, happiness and technique


The pigeon sport has many beautiful moments, but sometimes you must also be able to bear the things that don"t go right.

- Long way back: I had fostered the eggs of my "145" to spare him a bit, since he was 12 years old. I placed pot eggs under him. His last round of eggs had been infertile and I was happy to see that these eggs were good.

But one black day when I entered the loft I saw immediately that something was wrong. There sat a confused cock, with a bloodied nose, eyes half closed, as if he had been in a war.

It was the pigeon under which I had placed the eggs of the "145".

When I looked anxiously in the nest box, my fears were confirmed; the hen stood upright in the bowl over two broken eggs, beside her sat an intruder.

The intruder had once been breeding in that nest box, and had chosen a bad moment to go back to his old box. The adrenalin surged through my veins; I got hold of the bird and told a fellow fancier that I had a pigeon for him. With it he got a pedigree to "lick your lips", for free.

But the most distressing thing was that it was my own fault!

You should never give a pigeon another nest box.

Neither a racing pigeon nor a breeder.

But my problems weren"t over yet.

- Shortly afterwards there was trouble again.

Another couple I had high hopes for, had sealed their love with a sky high nest. Several times I had intended to do something about that (take nest material out of the bowl), until it was too late and I found the young dead beside the nest.

- I wanted to see if the eggs of an old couple were fertilized.

But with an angry wing beat, the pigeon that sat on the nest tried to teach me to keep my hands out of the nest.

Two broken eggs was the result.

I said a few choice words to "Our Lord" and that was it.

For the rest, the breeding went well, and then spring came.



On racing days I usually rise early, listen to the news and when I hear:

"The weather is fine and everywhere pigeons will be released" I know it"s going to be an excellent pigeon day.

I make a cup of coffee and light a cigarette.

All on my own. No telephone and no nagging.

I know that fishermen will understand these moments of peace and complete absence of stress.

Once in a while I go fishing too, on a Saturday when the pigeons are in the basket.

Early in the morning I"m on the spot, alone with a thermos flask, the float and my thoughts.

Not a ripple in the water, morning mists in the reeds, nobody to argue with me and I do what makes life more comfortable:

Not thinking at all.

A world away from looking for a space on the beach among all those naked bodies with skins that look like tyres of a car.

Pigeon sport and fishing. No psychiatrist could advise of anything better.

I am not a dedicated fisherman and certainly not a good one.
But being "far from the madding crowd" may also be fun.


The next thing I am in my loft, long before I really expect the pigeons.

I think about the "Witpen", who is my first nominated.....about the yearling that had such good form, and about that good pigeon that didn"t achieve much the week before.

And I keep looking at my watch.

Now its 1,400 meter per minute, then its 1,350, then its 1,300.

I expect 1,250 because, as club members remarked: "today the birds will have to work for it".

Suddenly I can hear:

"There is one."

I jump up and yes indeed, a pigeon, still high but clearly one of mine. With the wings folded as he plummets down.

Immediately three others come thundering into the loft.

"The two first nominated are back," I call to the watchers.

Then the phone rings.

"Any pigeons back yet?"

"Yes, at 38."

"Do you already have one at 38?"

"I didn"t say that."

"Yeah, I didn"t think you did. Nothing is known yet."

"I have four at 38."

"Congratulations," the voice says, but it didn"t sound very happy.

Pigeon sport can be really nice.

"Yes but," some will say, "what if you can"t win a prize?"

That is indeed not very nice, but why not lower your sights a bit and try coming a bit closer to the champion"s results.

Or enjoy that one time that you are in front of him.



I got the idea for this story because of that Chinese with his laptop.

On the screen he showed me how you can follow pigeons on their journey home.

Very impressive, but it"s not for me.

For me it"s part of the sport that you momentarily stop breathing because the pigeons return earlier than you expect (or later).

I don"t want to see them arriving on a screen in my living room.

I sometimes wonder why a person still has to go outside nowadays.

Surfing you don"t do on water anymore but on the electronic oceans of the Internet.

To play chess you don"t need a human opponent anymore but a collection of nuts and bolts and wires, or in other words a computer.

Football teams enter information about players and competitors in the computer.

Defensive actions, successful and unsuccessful attacks, it is all registered.

With the computer you can couple pigeons and find out what kind of weather is best for your "Blauwe".

You can use it to make a selection, but the chances are the pigeon that achieved good results isn"t selected because it doesn"t have the right ancestry, or possibly non at all.

Cleaning, feeding, releasing can now be done automatically with ONE touch, or not even that. There are automatic timers after all.

Very soon we will be able to follow the pigeons returning home on a screen, we don"t have to worry about broken eggs because of artificial insemination, your mobile phone tells you when a pigeon has returned and maybe we can even influence the weather like the Chinese at the Olympics.

But that"s not for me.

Watching the pigeons return in fine weather is what many like most in the sport.

That also applies to me.

Where the birds are on their way home?

I just don"t want to know.