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Pigeons, people and Darwin (24-03-21)

Someone who had a lot of impact on my pigeon fancier life was Jos. He came here  for almost 40 years and has experienced quite a few things.

"Almost 40 years" is indeed a long time, but I am, what do you call it, fairly "loyal". A friend remains a friend. I can name a number of people, including pigeon fanciers, with whom I have maintained good contacts since (deep into) the last century. It may have to do with my educational history. I learned to judge fellow human beings for their good qualities and to ignore the bad ones.

Sometimes with this one "friends" and then with another one was never my style. Jos (now deceased) was a Belgian and at the time very good at sprint. With more "pigeon intelligence" than many members of the national board. He was also a bit of a philosopher.


"If nothing happens, the world will go to ruin," he often said. And yet he was not defeatist. When asked what should happen he answered "a world war or an infectious disease". I don't believe he knew the word "pandemic."

Jos: "There are far too many people. In my childhood there were 2 billion, now almost 8. That polar ice and all those melting glaciers, that cutting down so much rainforest, that air pollution, that can't keep going. " There was no world war, but he did not be4come old enough to experience his foresight. Such a contagious disease "you could wait for" came indeed. "Waiting for it" because it was "the course of nature," leaving the weaker ones to succumb and the strongest alive. In this way, humanity will eventually survive. "Dixit Jos.


Indeed, at times he looked like Darwin. Infectious diseases with (very) many deaths are of all times. Think in particular of Cholera and Ebola.Europe was once hit hard by "the Black death" (the plague). In just five years, 30 million people (the third of the population) died. But what's interesting now? Not so long after this massive death, Europe experienced an unprecedented boom. The renaissance, as some may remember from their school years.


Do I know so much about history? Not at all. But people get older and many people who get older like to immerse themselves in the past.Nowadays I like to read (!) About Stonehenge, the ancient Egyptians, the Mayas from Mexico. If I can't get to sleep it's my own past. The music of that time, my first loves, study friends and pigeon sport at the time. While it may be very annoying for others. In this way, songs or places can also generate associations.When I heard Cliff Richard it always reminded me of my third love. Till a few years ago. A "childhood friend" told me where that "third love" (Marieke) lived. We went there. When we rang the bell, an older woman answered the door. Gray as a pigeon, moderately wrinkled and more than moderately sagging breasts.But what mattered was that she seemed like a sweet person.I asked if Marieke was at home. The answer I received then haunted me for days. "Marieke? I am, sir. How can I help you?'And that was still a grade below me, it went through my mind. How time flies. Hans Eyerkamp has just sent some photos from forums on the former Ponderosa. How long our hair was and especially black.


There was no shortage of pigeon fanciers in my youth. But (even then) almost all of them were at least 20 years older than me. What I'm talking about is all a long time ago. We used wooden timers. we did not know specialized veterinarians, computers and inversion neither. Sex also did not exist yet.In my village alone you could buy pigeon food at four places.Besides looking for lapwing eggs and fantasizing about the breasts of Hanny (we called her Hanniball), what I preferred to do was go and look for pigeons somewhere. REMARKABLEWhat stood out when I compare with now? That pigeons were so much more colorful. Where have all those red, black and cak-colored specimens gone, one wonders. There are still some, but significantly fewer. Does it grind with selection based on the result?The pigeons were usually released at 7:00 am, we played (almost) as many youngsters as were ringed, while many did not even have a car to train them.But what has stayed with me in particular? We did not know medicines that are common to us to-day. Neither were the diseases of today. 


Characteristic of all that lives is that it wants to continue to live. If a pigeon was / is attacked by bacteria or viruses, the body will resist.Possibly helped by us with antibiotics.This creates a battle of antibiotics with the pathogens.After all, the characteristic of all life is to "want to" stay alive. And that also applies to bacteria and viruses.They want to survive, even if they have to adapt (mutate).In this eternal battle it is not about having the most ball possession but about the total victory.Adaptation and selection are the keywords of the great thinker Darwin in his theory of evolution. Of course antibiotics were / are a boon to mankind. Its inappropriate use  became so disastrous. And in pigeon sport in particular the administration of antibiotics to healthy pigeons.It is also improper to give too much, or worse still, too little.Those very healthy racing pigeons from the past did not need antibiotics. But we had them and we gave it. Sometimes even assuming they would perform better.


What you also did not see in my youth were those fat half sick wild doves of today. I liked to look into their nests and never saw one with only one cub in it.When I got older, the drugs came and with the drugs the illnesses it seemed. Whether there is a connection?Scientists are convinced of this. There are (still) many "lagged" areas in the world where they play with pigeons. They do not know medicines that are common to us. Neither are the diseases of today.  


Alarm bells are now ringing and people want to move to a world with as few antibiotics as possible. "Stuff" that you used to be able to get in the smallest pharmacy in the smallest village, you can barely get today. Keeping out antibiotics in future will change pigeon racing. The winners will be the ones now being called liars when they say they perform well with pigeons that don't get medication all the time.