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What do we know about pigeons (23/07)

What do we know about PIGEONS?

 Every year the eggs of the racers are sold before the season. This year I have a hen that performs unbelievably. It is my 18-732 that won 4 firsts in Antwerpen. One more early prize and it is candidate NATIONAL Ace pigeon KBDB I heard people say. Indeed, many people know this hen, because it wins in all kinds of weather.

Now you should know I always sell a round of eggs before the season. And among the eggs that were sold this year were those from the parents of 18-732. Understandably I wondered who had bought those eggs. Till I found out and when I saw the man I asked him how the birds were doing from the eggs he had bought. The news was not good. The first training toss, from 5 kilometers only, he had lost one third of his babies. Also the birds that hatched from eggs parents 732.

Were they too stupid? Hmm. I think though it was the health, since I cannot imagine racing pigeons can be so stupid that they cannot even find their way home from 5 km. But still there is a chance they were no good despite the fantastic results of both parents. Such things are not even exceptional.

I have handled lots of real super birds. But super birds that had brothers or sisters that were super as well were rare. Despite the nice stories about inbreeding, line breeding, golden Couples, ‘breeding eyes’, connoisseurs and so on.

 De Klaren

A historic pigeon was ‘De Klaren’ from Desmet Matthijs. They and their contemporaries such as Delbar, Hector Desmet, Oscar Devriendt and Catrijsse wrote ‘pigeon history’. The story of Desmet Matthijs is the story of that one pigeon: The legendary "Klaren" (46-3060539). It died at the age of 21, but then he already was a legend.

It was a Middle Distance bird and was entered for a long distance race only once. From that race (Chateauroux) it won 1st National. "De Klaren" was an excellent racer but as a breeder even better. Its off-spring such as ‘de Genaaiden’, ‘de Rik’ and ‘de Kapoen’ were fantastic long distance birds and made the name of Desmet Matthijs well-known everywhere in the World where pigeons were raced.

What is interesting about ‘Klaren?’ As a young it was not able to win a decent prize. In those days every club had its pigeon exhibition and in one of those shows the judges labelled ‘Klaren’ as ‘soup’. So it was not only a very poor racer as a baby, but it was ugly as well. Hardly half a year later it started its career as one of the best racers ever.

It was a product of free mating and the only good pigeon that was born out of the parents. All its brothers and sisters were junk. Food for thought.


The Houben story is also based on one bird only: ‘Sony’. As a youngster Jef wanted to sell it, because he found its body horrible. But since Sony was of good origin Jef put it in a basket with some 15 other birds that a German had ordered. When he came for the birds the German looked at the pigeons, he was satisfied, apart from this one bird: Sony.

Jef said: You need not buy what you do not like and replaced Sony by a good looking loft mate. With this loft mate the German was happy. ‘One of the best things that ever happened to me’ Jef often said. ‘Sony’ became 2nd best National Ace Middle Distance. As a breeder it was pure gold.

 De ‘Knook’

The story of Sony is reminiscent of that of ‘613’, one of the best birds Klak ever had. Its father was named ‘Knook’, which means ‘ugly bird.’ Klak as well wanted to get rid of it, but no one was interested.

Coincidentally next winter a cock was caught by a hawk and now Klak had a problem; he was short of a cock. He could only solve this problem by keeping ‘Knook’, the bird that nobody liked. It was to become father of one of his best racers ever, his 613. So 613 owed his life to a bird of prey.

 De ‘05’

The best pigeon I have ever known was the ’05’ from Vermeulen. Older locals still talk about this miracle. I remember how relieved fellow-fanciers were when once it ‘only’ won 3rd prize. ‘Even 05 can fail’ fanciers said. The story about 05 is educational as well. Vermeulen was a wealthy man and bought the best birds available for money.

He had a special method of mating his breeders. The most expensive cock was mated with the hen for which he had paid most. And thus he did with all his birds. Expensive mated with expensive.

Then came that year that he had coupled all his breeders and two were left. Those were a cock that he had got for free from a friend and a hen that was also a gift from his bother in law. They were his only pigeons that did not come from a well known loft and…. Became the parents of 05, the best bird I have ever known. Later on his clubmate Verheyen would win 1st National Orleans youngsters in very hard weather with a grandson of 05. It beat 65.000 birds.

I myself had got a full brother of 05. It was such a junk that I doubted the origin. Had Vermeulen fooled me? Had one of the parents committed a sin? Many times I was on the point of killing it, but Vermeulen begged me to give 05 a chance. I did when it was old and worn out. Some years later I realised what a big mistake that was. Though this brother 05 was very ugly indeed, its babies were super racers.


The ´Donkere (‘dark one’) from Stan Baelemans Antwerpen is another pigeon that is still in my memory. In those days Stan had two babies that were excellent racers.

Coincidentally they were a cock and a hen, but what a poor bodies they had. Baelemans did not like them at all, but could their fantastic results be just luck? He mated this ugly young cock with a hen that was even uglier and this pair produced ‘Donkere’ that became first NATIONAL Ace pigeon KBDB. Donkere was a beauty.

 Louis Stabel

In the good old days Mr Louis Stabel had a pigeon that won in three succeeding races: 16th National Bergerac, 7th National St Vincent and 3rd National Dax. Those were races from about 900 kilometers with an entry of 15.000s average. He had got the bird for free when it was a baby from his clubmate Verhoeven. In winter Verhoeven had more hens than cocks, with Stabel it was the reverse.

Verhoeven was a good handler and had the name of a connoisseur. But would he have given his friend Stabel this hen if he had known it was so special? Never ever!


- In pigeon sport you are never sure. Not even the champions.

- What you should always do is breed many babies from your best and change the matings. You can compare this with a lottery. The more tickets the more chances.

- If you have an excellent racer there is no guarantee the parents will ever produce another good racer.

- I myself prefer babies of racers to those of breeders.

- Many super birds are the result of good luck.