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Sometimes an answer (02-09-21)

No one has a monopoly on the ultimate pigeon wisdom. Not columnists, not champions, not vets. Unfortunately there are those who pretend and a few let themselves pay for their ´knowledge´ but trust me: No one can distinguish good pigeons from bad ones with 100% certainty.

No one can you put together couples from which the good pigeons will automatically roll. Don't believe such guys. Charlatans they are. They catch more unsuspecting fanciers in their nets than the average angler fish. Especially watch out for those people who combine their 'talent' with the sale of 'stuff to make pigeons fly faster'. For example, a fellow countryman bought such rubbish for a lot of money. Result? He was going to play even worse. When he spoke to the supplier of that 'miracle stuff’, he replied that the pigeons would then be worth nothing. But don't worry, he knew a place where to get quality birds. You can guess where.

Pigeon sport is a sport with sometimes a lot of pomposity and obscure stuff. Secrets would be exchanged behind the palm. Fortunately, not everything is shrouded in mystery. Much can be explained and many questions can certainly be answered. Beginners in particular, and not just them, sometimes have questions that should no longer be questions. Without wanting to be the smart one, I dare to answer some questions.

For example, a fairly well-known fancier asked what pigeons lack when they graze like crazy in the garden, eat sand, pull on plants, pick all kinds of rubbish from between the roof tiles. While they can find countless additives in the loft. I know what he means but unfortunately couldn't answer the question. Indeed, it seems to be a shortage. But to what? Klak also had that problem, but with him more in the form of field flying. I've brought him different 'mixes of minerals' and different kinds of pickstones several times and so have others. After all, Jos was someone who 'fitted well' with many. And everyone wanted to help, including two vets, but no one who could help him with his problem. The pigeons continued to fly to the fields.

M is a driven young, successful fancier. Someone who sleeps at night and is constantly wondering how to improve. With which pigeons or with which adaptation. ‘Competition’ is sometimes mentioned in our e-mail traffic. And when we are talking about strong racing fanciers, also the 'track of the pigeons'. "Do you believe in fixed tracks? he asked me. ‘I do not mean highways, forests, lakes, mountains. After all, pigeons tend to follow for example highways and avoid other routes. On their way home they can indeed be advantaged (and also disadvantaged) because they are in that mob that often.

Especially the wind, the mass and also quality influence the course. Immediately after release, the flock will logically fly in the direction where most pigeons belong. And every time that flock splits, it repeats itself!

If you live in a village where few fanciers are left, it will be more difficult to excel. After all, the flock will initially not fly in the direction where few pigeons belong. A simple example: Suppose 10,000 pigeons are released in Paris, which all belong in a region with a limited size. For example Brussels. But there are also 50 pigeons that belong in Ostend (quite west) and 50 with Maastricht as their home port (quite east). Those two times 50 pigeons have of course no chance.

Or you are so naive as to believe that the complete mass immediately after release  heads for Ostend or Maastricht. I've seen quite a few releases, but never one where some pigeons deflected immediately after the baskets were opened. All birds fly in the same direction. At least for a while. Groups soon arise. The good pigeon does not outfly the others in speed, but always chooses the right group. And the sooner he makes his plan and abandons the rest, the better, for the smaller the curvature to undo the mistake made.

From my younger years I remember certain places that were impossible to compete. Then pigeons sport was a local sport. We didn't play against fanciers from other villages. The National long distance races were of course different. National Orleans youngsters for example. At the time, you could only think of a 1st National if you could beat the fanciers from the town of Sint Willebrord. Obviously because they had good pigeons, but also because there were so many of them. More than 300 fanciers in 4 square kilometers I often heard.

Besides, wouldn't you automatically get better pigeons where so many fanciers live closely together? Dordrecht was also such a place. In the province it was ‘Dordrecht against the rest’. There were a dozen great champions then. But today the fanciers have gone and the champions as well. Apart from one.  

You can compare that a bit with Berlaar in 2021. Of course there are good pigeons there, but if you compare their results, especially the duration of the competitions, with others, you would almost think that there is a kind of pigeons that is superior, which is confirmed by many results of National races. But it is not that simple. Those fanciers who have bought pigeons there for a lot of money know that the Berlaar fanciers collectively do not have any kind of pigeons that have risen above the others. Their predominance is explained by dozens of fanciers who are fully committed, also by the large numbers of pigeons in the region and of course by quality. After all, if it was only quality, we all knew where to go for better birds. But we have become smarter.