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More than words Part 1

This is Part 1 of a series of articles, which are graced by photos. Photos may make things more clear than words can do. They may bring the news or may be interesting since they are old and historic. Hopefully you will enjoy both articles and photos.

It was in the late 90-ies that I changed jobs; I was a teacher before, then I made ‘pigeons’ my living.
Part of the new job was ‘writing’ and a scribe has responsibilities such as promoting the sport and help novices.
Without new people joining the sport will die, that is not what we want and therefore we all should encourage and help both beginners and less successful fanciers.
Answering questions and explaining things is a lot easier if you visualize things I have learned as a teacher; that’s why I have chosen to write a series of articles that are illustrated by photos.
You may find that sometimes the same themes are discussed but that shows they are important.

To be a successful fancier there are four main elements people often say:

a. Good pigeons.
b. A good loft.
c. Pigeons that are in a good condition.
d. The fancier should be a good handler and observe ‘things’.

I do not quite agree with what people say though.
The fancier (‘d’) is by far the most important factor, since a good pigeon man will see to it that he gets good birds (‘a‘) that are in a good loft (‘b‘) and in good condition (‘c’).
I myself would prefer to race average birds in good shape to good birds that are not. Birds that lack condition will not perform and will breed babies of poor quality.
‘How to get them into good shape?’
That is the ‘one million dollar question’ for many a fancier.
You certainly cannot pour successes out of a bottle, as some mean.
Winning is a combination of good birds in good shape and… some luck.
Of course we cannot ignore medication but it does not turn average birds into good ones.
Take the late Jos Klak.
He was of an older generation, that is true, he hated medicine, that is also true, but all those who ever were in his lofts will confirm that the health of his birds was breath taking a whole year round.
Klak did not even know the names of the most common diseases or medicine and thought that the loft was responsible for the health of his birds.
Furthermore he believed in well-balanced consequent loft training

I myself often feel sorry for all those ambitious fellow sportsmen who are not aware of the importance of a good loft.
Some cannot stop buying but spending money on birds and then put them in a loft that is no good does not make sense.
You can compare this with humans.
If they work in an environment in which they do not feel good they will not function.
If the climate in a classroom is not agreeable the teacher does not feel fine and consequently his lessons will be boring and bad.
Feeling good will contribute to a better health and better health will contribute to better results both with humans and animals such as pigeons.
How a good loft should be like is well known; that is a dry and warm loft with an abundance of oxygen and no draught.
But the problem is that external factors such as the outer climate play a big role.
Therefore a loft that is good on top of a roof may be a bad one if it would be located in a yard surrounded by trees or buildings.
A loft that is well ventilated may be good when it is warm and calm, but the same loft may turn into a bad one in cold, windy weather.
Sometimes people wonder how come that the condition of birds can change so much in the same loft and with the same care in a couple of days’ time only.
The explanation is a change in the weather in many cases.

Now it may be clear that lofts that are good for all fanciers at any place, at any time, under all circumstances simply do not exist.
A loft in an area with a tropical climate is not fit to house birds in Western Europe.
Such a loft is open and ventilated and would therefore be uncomfortable for birds if it were located in say Belgium with its cold and windy climate sometimes.
In Holland and Belgium lofts are pretty much closed, therefore these would be bad lofts in the tropics.
Of course a loft need not be luxurious, pigeons are not aware of that.
Fancy lofts are nice for the fancier but ‘fancy for humans’ does not necessarily mean ‘good for birds’.
What I want to say is this:
If the weather conditions would be the same day and night a whole year round at any place in the world we would be able indeed to design a perfect loft.
But since that is an illusion fanciers themselves should be inventive.
Concerning this I will never forget the day that I had a seminar in Las Vegas USA.

Las Vegas is fascinating.
At night this place in the desert looks like an ever lasting explosion of light and in this town of gold and glitter with beautiful girls, pimps, criminals and gamblers I had to talk pigeons and answer questions.
As usual in America strains and medication were the topic for those guys over there.
For me they were not and since it seemed I was not the most stupid guy in this world I was invited so see birds.
Their condition was surprisingly poor and carefully I chose my words mentioning it.
‘What must I do?’ they asked.
‘Change the food? Give vitamins or medicine maybe?’
What they did not know was that I always look at the loft when I see birds that are in a bad condition and that was what I did there too.
The lofts were open in front and part of the floor was open as well.
This seemed to be understandable since it was terribly hot, however…
My plane had landed in the middle of the night when it was cold as ice and then those birds were housed in the same open loft!
‘You have a loft problem’ I told ‘them’ guys.
Questioningly one looked at me and asked me to explain things in the evening. ‘Let’s talk in a strip tease bar’ he said. ‘Lots of pretty top-less girls over there and real good wine’.
‘I will be there’ I said, ‘I like good wine…’
Thus happened and only one year later the guy was a champion.

What he had done was order a carpenter to arrange some changes in his loft so that he would have external things such as heat, wind, cold and so on under control.
From then on he could make the lofts more open when it was hot and close them when it was cold and windy.
And believe me; examples similar to those there are lots.
Pigeons all over the world need to live in a good (loft)climate to get into good shape.
Can you believe that most champions in Holland and Belgium worry less about the quality of their birds than that of the loft?


Maybe this loft is good in Taiwan but… if it were located in Belgium the pigeons in it would get sick soon. It is too open and therefore too cold and draughty.

A typical Belgian loft, down in the yard with a tiled roof and so-called ‘Sputniks’ before the windows.

One of the few Belgians that have their loft on top of the roof is Engels from Putte.
Since it is ‘high up’ it is more closed than others with little glass to protect the birds inside from wind, draught and heat.

These lofts from Boeckx (Belgium) are very old, made of cheap materials and anything but fancy. But the results have proven that they are good.

Many Belgians put their birds in aviaries in winter in order to harden them and thus avoid respiratory problems in summer.