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Handling young birds (15-05-2021)

How come your youngsters trap so well? Both after training at home and from the races? Why do you not "show" the partner when you basket birds for a race? They are questions that I am often asked and… it has to do with each other! In both cases it is a matter of 'conditioning' or 'reflexes' as it is called. "Conditioning" means something like "introducing habitual behavior".

In my childhood, both my grandmothers had cats. When one of them shouted 'pussy, pussy', the cats ran at a trot. The other grandmother's cats ran to the sound of a saucer she was sliding across the floor. "Why don't you call “pussy, pussy" I asked that grandmother. She laughed and shouted 'pussy, pussy'. The animals seemed deaf, did not move a fin. She saw my astonished look and then she told her story: 'When the cats were little I also called out ‘pussy pussy 'and at the same time I pushed a saucer of milk back and forth on the floor. They soon knew what was going on just when they heard the sound. I didn't have to call a cat anymore and now they don't even know that anymore.

It's about association, making connections. It could also have been 'dog dog'. We used to have a teacher for whom we became very quiet just when he stood up and reached with one hand on the other. This gesture had conditioned us at the beginning of the new school year. When we were too busy, he stood up, took off his ring with a great sense of theater and we got one. How soon we knew that!

It is now time, at the end of April, to teach the youngsters habits. In fact, it is no different from the cats. They also respond to signals and the earlier they are learned the better. Like with children. They loved to see me when I still was a dedicated racer in Holland. I wished them good night almost every night. Put some candy, grit and peanuts on the perches, stroked their heads or let them play with my hands. They soon flew in when I reached out to a shelf because they were expecting a snack. The hands of the man with frightened pigeons are not much different from my hands. Those pigeons are MADE frightened. By the boss who tried to grab them between the legs or against a window. Or, even worse, by hitting 'bang’ with the hands cautiously from behind the head. ‘Got you.’ Or not. A cloud of feathers and doves flying in terror in all directions are living proof of the ignorance of such a man who is in the process of losing their trust forever. They are the fanciers whose pigeons stretch their neck when they enter the loft or, worse, rush out of the loft. And it is very naive to expect such pigeons to storm in after the flight. When you enter the lofts, no pigeon should fly off the shelf in fear. 

The hands of the fancier play an important role in the life of the pigeon. Hands should not mean something to pigeons that they have to watch out for. If I am in a hurry or rushed I stay away from the lofts. Because I know myself. If I want to take a pigeon and miss it, I don't give myself up but make a second attempt. And it is usually less gentle than the first. You are doing well if you can grab your pigeons with one hand. Some fanciers always have sweets or peanuts in their bags. They will never enter the loft without giving the pigeons a snack. They also do well! Better than people who just drop the pigeons out of their hands or (that also happens) throw them away! Those people should see what they are doing in slow motion images. How the pigeon must make an effort to land on its legs in balance. You have to take your pigeons calmly and let them free preferably at the height of the box where they belong.

You must treat pigeons with respect at all times. For example, people who, due to time constraints, have no choice but to quickly throw some food into the lofts every day in all haste will never become young pigeon specialists.Discipline must already be there when young are a few months old. When getting the birds into the lost, the champion no longer has to shout or rattle a feeder, seeing him alone should be enough. A big difference with people who have to crawl away when pigeons come from the flight. Now that flights are getting faster and faster, smooth entry has become part of the sport. 'Conditioning' is the name of the game. 

What is the partner's role in the widowhood game? Hmm. On their way home would pigeons always think about their partner and storm home faster because of that partner? Thus you project human behavior on animals. No widowhood cock will ever give the answer. I personally think that after a few weeks of play, pigeons know very well what is going on. Therefore show the partner before departure is just as superfluous as shouting 'pussy, pussy' by that one grandmother with the dish. I believe pigeons also associate the stay in the basket, which makes showing the partner superfluous. Furthermore I see only drawbacks: Unrest, stress, fights, unnecessary waste of energy. But whether I see it correctly? OTHERS

Many who would never basket a widower in the past without first showing the hen have abandoned this. Because they found that not only does it make no difference, but, as mentioned, may even have disadvantages, not to mention the hard work.By the way, what motivates pigeons to get home quickly, I once cite the example of the famous ‘Didi’ from Etienne de Devos. He was in a loft with one partner only. They liked each other like Megan and her family, Devos often told me. When Didi came from a National Long Distance race, he did not fly to the box where his partner was waiting, on the contrary. He sought out his pen mate, grabbed him by the scruff of the neck, and dragged him through the loft like a hound does with a rabbit. At least according to Devos. Some champions claim that successful pigeon racing is little more than conditioning. There is some (much?) truth in it.  



  Je hebt zelf veel in de hand