“There’s the magic, the bond between man and bird that brings this tiny fifteen ounces of feather, muscle and intelligence, back from continents over the seas, as fas as 1000 miles away. Such independent creatures, which can turn their back on man and exist quite happily without him, yet which will almost kill themselves to get back to his side – if they love him enough – and some of them do.” From the book “Pigeon Gas” by ‘Bilco’ (Bill Cowell).
Selecting racing pigeons is a learned skill, and not all of us not agree on what makes a good racing pigeon. The only real selection test for racing pigeons is race performance.
There are good books on racing pigeons, for example Bob Kinney’s “The Will To Prepare”. This sources goes into detail on the facts and theories of pigeon selection.
One thing to remember is once the pigeon is in the air, only his intelligence, health, homing ability, and his love of home is going to make your pigeon race home. You are the coach of your pigeon team. Your handling of the team means the difference in winning or just flying pigeons.
From rest, he accelerates to cruise mode in seconds. At some 600 beats per minute, the rhythm of his heart is a virtual hum. Flapping his magnificent wings up to ten times per second, he covers a mile a minute, sometimes over terrain he has never seen before. Cued by a battery of senses still poorly understood, he chooses a vector and heads for home. He is a top racer in championship form! Smart money is on him, and luck is in the air today!
Links to more information about Homers:
- Dr. David Marx, DVM, A Veterinary Approach to Pigeon Health (The Racing Pigeon Digest Publishing Co., Inc., 1997)
“A handy reference guide for the care and ‘repair’ of racing pigeons. Dr. Marx, a racing enthusiast himself, covers everything from loft hygiene to treating injuries, to pigeon diseases, to the proper nutrition required to keep racers in top form. Lucidly written. Not illustrated.” (Rayb)
- Wendell M. Levi, The Pigeon (Levi Publishing Company, Incorporated, 1981)
“A tome of epic proportion. The Pigeon is a comprehensive look at the contribution and relationship pigeons have made to mankind. Nearly all facets of the bird’s value to humanity are examined, including historical data and the various pigeon fancies. Lavishly illustrated.” (Rayb)
[Note: this book was first published in the 1940s, and is therefore dated in many aspects]
Amazon review: “This book is clearly the classic reference book for the pigeon fancy. Unfortunately the book is basically unchanged since the 50’s. The chapter on diseases and their treatment is severely dated and needs a complete rewrite to address modern treatments and drugs–but there is no author who can do the job. However, there is a corresponding advantage–the chapter on breeds and varieties could not be done as well these days. In the intervening years, with the changes in society and interests, the quality of many of the rarer breeds has declined markedly. Still, this is the book that everybody with an interest in the pigeon fancy must have!”