Yep, racing pigeons. I like to say, “It’s hard to get a saddle on the little fellas, but it’s a great sport.
The truth is, racing pigeons, or Homing Pigeons, have been around for centuries, actually for millennia. The dove which Noah released from the ark to see if there was any land to live on was likely a rock dove, the ancestor of the modern homer. Pigeons have been used for communication for longer than history has recorded. I could go on, but this isn’t a history lesson.
In order to improve any breed of any species, there must be some form of competition. It is in human nature to strive for ‘the best’ in whatever is of interest. And in that quest for perfection, specimens are carefully selected and mated to produce the desired result in the next generation. The goal may be power, thus draft animals were developed. Looking for speed? The greyhound dog and the thoroughbred racehorse were – and still are being – perfected and improved. You get the picture.
So, with pigeons you have three basic types; wild, show pigeons, and racing homers. The wild pigeons you see everywhere. Yes, they can carry disease. Yes, they can become a nuisance. Yes, they are referred to as ‘sky-rats’. Moving on… Next, you have show pigeons. If someone can imagine it, they can breed it. Most people are familiar with pretty fan-tail pigeons, maybe rollers or tumblers. You can do a Google search for show pigeons and be astounded at the variety.
But racing pigeons are in a class by themselves. Their claim to fame: they come home from anyplace and under any situation – they come home as fast as they can. Bred for centuries for speed, courage, and endurance, these birds have been used in every war and military conflict in history up to and including the current conflagration in the middle east! Yes, pigeons were used in Afghanistan. Pigeons were used extensively in WWII and are accredited with saving thousands of lives. Homers have been used for communication, simply passing information. The last public pigeon post closed in India just a few years ago. And pigeons were used on Wallstreet to get news of great money deals delivered much faster than a human could hand carry the news. Homers were used in Rome even during the time of Christ. And every king in Europe in history has kept pigeons for sport and for passing vital information.
And if or when technology fails, we will still have the humble pigeon to deliver the word.
All that being said. My husband has been raising and racing pigeons nearly all of his life. We have raced in local clubs and we have sent birds to one-loft futurity (money earning) races. But now, we are slowing down and reducing the size of our loft. It is my hope that I can manage a small flock and continue to compete. Only time will tell.
If you are interested, you may check out my new Pigeon Page to see individual birds for sale. This page will change and update often. https://wp.me/P6tYru-9o