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What is going on?

The 2008 racing season in Belgium and Holland started far from smoothly.

In the month of April the first races were on the program but the weather was real bad then. Cold and windy.

Fanciers however had no other choice than to start tossing their birds.

The result was that only after a few races the birds of many lacked condition and were not fit to race any longer.

In many cases the fanciers themselves were to blame though.

What they did was put the heating on in their lofts and the difference in climate inside the loft and outside was the cause of a dramatic decrease in condition.

The result was that many vets had to work extra hours after the racing season had just started.



The start of the young bird season is difficult as well.

In Belgium the first young bird races are in the beginning of May, in Holland one month later.

And of course for young birds training is even more important than for old birds.

From early May on the weather was beautiful, at least for humans; bright and Eastern winds.

But for some mysterious reason in the last 2 decades good weather for humans is exactly the weather that seems to be killing for young birds when being trained.

And when the young bird season is about to begin fanciers have no other choice than to start tossing them.

They experienced in the past how risky it is to train or race youngsters with bright weather, therefore they are careful and drive no further than 4 kilometres or so for the first tosses.

But even this distance seems to be too much for inexperienced youngsters. Fanciers lose them by the thousands and by now, even before the racing season has started many lofts are half empty.

I will tell you what happened to many fanciers, don't be surprised, some things are real strange and hard to explain.



-        A club mate and me tossed our babies for the first time from a distance of 5 kilometres only. 3 Hours after the release not one had made it back home. By evening both at his place and at mine in about half an hour the majority came back one by one. 

-        There was this short training with the club from 40 kilometres only in the town where I race in Belgium. The birds were released early morning, in the evening most of them were home but they all arrived one by one. Not even one fancier got 2 birds at a time.

-        About the same happened to me from a toss of about 10 kilometres, Two hours after the release the first bird got home, the rest followed but ALL ONE BY ONE. Why did not even 2 of them stay together?

-        There was this 200 kilometre race in Holland with both old birds and youngsters in 2007. The race with old birds was finished in 6 minutes (one third was home then), for the babies it took 3 hours to finish the race; the losses were immense.

-        There are many more examples similar to those which were even reason for some fanciers to quit.

In China basketing is much different from Europe. In
the open mostly and also there fanciers suffer many
losses in young bird racing. (courtesy June HK)


And you know what is so puzzling? These things always and only happen in bright weather with East wind.

When the wind is North (ahead) it is less a problem, when it is showery or cloudy or when the wind is west or south there are no problems at all.

Now there are 2 questions that are on many peoples' minds,


Why is this not a problem with old birds?


Why was this not a problem some decades ago?

When I was a child most fanciers did not even have a car, nor did they have time to toss the babies as frequently as fanciers do now.

In those days we also had clear skies with East winds but pigeons did not get lost.

'Lack of condition' would be the most obvious explanation.

This phenomenon has nothing to do with poor condition though since ALL fanciers face this problem; heavy losses in bright weather with east winds. It is not a matter of lack of quality either. There are numerous examples of birds that got lost and could be picked up since the owner had put a stamp with his telephone number in the wing that turned out to be super racers later on.



It stands to reason that fanciers ask themselves questions about 'the why?'

And what they do is compare with the past.

As mentioned before then there were also crystal clear skies but they did not hinder the birds at all..

What was different then?

The internet, radar, cell phones, gps, pollution but'

Why then do these things not influence the navigating of old birds?

No one seems to have an answer.

The other bad news is that I hear similar complaints from fanciers in other countries.  

The young bird races in Holland will start 3 weeks from now.

The weather forecast for the coming week is bright and East winds.

You cannot believe how many questions I get from fanciers who wonder what to do.