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What really helps (21-02-22)

I was by far the youngest bar runner in my hometown. At least on Sundays when pigeons were raced. In the south of the Netherlands, as in Belgium, pigeon clubs were at home in local cafes. And it was my job to take the clock away after every flight.
That started when I was about twelve years old. Why not my father? He had the same annoying habit as most fanciers at that time. If played well, he would hang around and come home very late, and not too fresh. And the problem was that almost every week we played well. So my mother was faced with the choice: Either sit alone on Sundays and get a drunk guy home, or send her twelve-year-old son 'to a cafe'. She chose the latter.

The way to the cafe was made on foot, because that pigeon clock was a large square wooden dark brown case. Not to do on a bike.
But I'd be happy to do that. I was obsessed with pigeons and with open mouth I listened to the fanciers with their stories. And as it got later and the smoke got more to cut, those stories got stronger and stronger. People who had performed exceptionally were surrounded by club mates, fishing for a secret. Because acting important, boasting with a secret after a good race, that's how most were.

Especially tricks that would make pigeons perform better were often a topic of conversation. At home I sometimes wrote down what I had heard, because then I already had the ambition to perform. Most "tricks" were based on jealousy and the pigeon's territory.
I've tried countless of them. Up to and including placing a mirror in the breeding box. The pigeon was supposed to be dealing with an intruder, getting mad at its counterpart, but nothing could be further from the truth. It even happened that it flew scared from the nest.
I put stones and insects in plastic eggs so that the breeding pigeon would 'get the idea' that there was a young inside. All wasted effort. I also tried putting another pigeon in half box. I think that did something. Provided that it was built up, you shouldn't do something like that just before basketing.

Whatever worked, at least for me? Push eggs under with breeding young pigeons. For example, one on Monday and then one more every day. I believe in this because I can speak from experience. In 2014 we had a flight from Orleans with a pounding headwind. Everyone thought it was too heavy for youngsters. The 14-684 a hen on six eggs was the first nominated and won 1st against 2,158 pigeons. In 2018 the 704 also flew Orleans on a nest full of eggs and also as first nominated. She won the 6th against 7,008 pigeons.
West of my hometown there was no faster one in all of the south of the Netherlands. Incidentally, the nest brother,703, had also won 1st from Morlincourt earlier that same day. Of course they should be able to do it too. Whether those pigeons would have won without that bowl full of eggs? My feeling says no.

I myself did it in 2006 with a few hens and the result surprised me to a great extent. Now you read it more often. This means pairing two hens to one cock. What it comes down to is that you should have twice as many hens as cocks. First you pair one team of hens and the following round the other with the same cock. Then make sure they don't become alienated from each other. I think a huge disadvantage is that you have to be there after the race to lock up the hens in turns. But the evidence is there that it can turn out spectacular. 

Two hens mated. According to specialist the best possible position. If you take away one of them once and a while there is a chance that they begin to hate each other. A Hate for other hens is for many a better motivation than the love for a male partner. 

Nest pigeons generally perform best 'on youngsters'. The problem is that they grow so quickly and you can only benefit for a short time. This can be overcome by putting smaller youngsters under each time. You will notice that one pigeon is not the other. Some don't fool you at all, they seem to smell it when you replace their young with others.
With others it is sometimes possible to play successfully for a month in a row with a young that has been reduced in size.

I don't know anything about long distance, nor do I have any experience with it. I did learn over the years that good long distance pigeons are generally a bit smaller. The Braakhuis pigeons and those of Schellekens Riel were bigger, but exceptions, it seemed.
Now I know a very good 'great long distance guy’ who entrusted me with a 'secret' that works great for him. A few weeks before the first long distance races, he starts to lighten in the evening. The long distance champion: 'The pigeon sets its biological clock accordingly. When it gets dark at say about 10 p.m., a pigeon tends to sit down. At least if there is no strong tailwind. That urge is less with pigeons that sat in the light until about 11 p.m. They may keep on flying for a while.

Jealousy, 'territory urge' are just about the key words for people looking for extra motivation. A small thing can spark the flame in the pan. For example, the return of a cock that was lost for a long time, an extra cock in the loft, an extra shelf or a closed box that you open. I had two sections for youngsters next to each other, separated by a connecting door. Shelfs, seats and perches on all four sides, crawl-away trays on the bottom. And that is identical in both departments. I myself sometimes doubted which loft I was in. I thought it would be no different with pigeons.
And you noticed that when you moved a bird from one department to another. It wanted to appropriate the place that it "thought" was his, but where another pigeon was sitting, that thought the same. The sequel can be guessed.

The late Gust Christiaens already said it: You should preferably let youngsters nest on the floor. He thought hens mated together were ideal. Roger Buvens is another such. In such a loft with (young) pigeons nesting on the floor, you remove the food trough about five days before an important flight.
Close to the bowls with breeding pigeons, you put some jars in which you put food for all your pigeons. The nest pigeons will feel threatened at every turn. And my neighbor knows what it means for some birds if they fear that their nest is threatened. While jogging, he was attacked by a buzzard.


 The little plank can be easily put up and down. Very handy.