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So I've been thinking about this thought for some time. In pigeon racing, there is artificial selection (we do the selecting based on what we like/see) and natural selection (the birds that remain at the end of the of the season(s), survive the race course, elements, and odds). Which plays more of a part in the overall "survival" of the birds? Are both versions against odds? For example, you select a bird based on its feel, eyesign, young bird results, etc. But, only to have that bird lose out on a training toss or in the first old bird season. Or, do you toss a bird that did not do well in young bird races, but never gave it a chance to shine? The only quandry of the latter example is the "What ifs?" Again, is there a struggle between the two, or do they ACTUALLY work hand-in-hand?

On another related thought, I've always heard the advice from well-seasoned fliers say "If you want to do well, get good birds from guys locally." First of all, most local guys won't give you their best, even when $$$ is involved. Or at least you'd get their 2nd best with money. But when thinking more and more about that saying, is that actually the best route to go? Birds that perform well locally have "survived" time after time. Why go for out of region birds when they've flown different courses? For example, birds that have flown well in cold mountainous regions won't adapt well to flat, hot, and humid regions.

Please share your thoughts. :)
 

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I always use the cream off the top theory. It is said that if you leave a species to breed as it wants you will get a mediocre species. Or a species that breeds to the mean of the desired traits. The species will adapt to its needs for survival but the traits for fast good homing pigeons is not always what is needed for survival in the wild or in your loft for that matter. Back to the cream. If you take a loft of say 100 races, test them well over say 3 years, take the top 10 and get rid of the rest, you will have the cream. Breed 100 birds from that top 10 and repeat the process. Always pulling from the top will make your family of birds better.

I like to add a twist to this. If your top 10 get beat, but that bird and add him to the mix. Repeat the cream process.

For those old guys that remember the bell curve, or those that understand statistics, take the far right wedge of the curve, make a new bell curve with their offspring and repeat.

My thoughts are without artificial selection for your desired traits, you have not a chance, just luck in making your family better. Now you can start another debate here about whether eyes, conformation, size, etc have anything to do with winning races. In my opinion winning races should be your only selection criteria. The rest worthless.

Randy
 

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Now another interesting add in is your Environmental factors vs Genetic ones. The environment, ie. distance, terrain, wind, temp will effect outcomes. So this being said picking birds that are successful on your race course is good for your race course. As for futurities under different conditions, one must pick the best all around birds, or only fly in like environmental factors to your home course. A good family is one that wins everywhere. One that can win at sea level as well as 12000 feet, one that can win with a head and tail wind, freezing as well as Arizona hot temps.

Randy
 

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I listen to Pigeon Radio on the internet, quite often. From what I have heard, MOST flyers pick who gets bred to whom. However, there are many top flyers that use the method of letting the birds in the breeding loft choose their own mates. Those flyers just make sure that each and every bird in their breeder loft is as good as they can obtain. I guess they feel that their sons and daughters will pick the best for them, and that mom and dad picking who marries your sons and daughters is not natural and the best thing.

I know what my sons would say about me picking their mates. (but I think I could do a better job than they). :)\

I know that no one picked my spouse for me, and they don't come any better. A match made in Heaven (as they say).

But on the other side of the coin, what do you do with excellent birds that never breed anything good? You just have to change their mates before you get rid of them. Don't you?
 

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Most matings done in a loft is artificial. Selecting from race results and putting them all in a loft to "choose" their mates is still artificial, because you already chose them to put in the loft in the first place. The only thing you did was not choose their mates. But, you already chose them.

Natural selection is maybe the next generation on, when you keep all the offsprings from those first birds, and let these offsprings mate freely amoungst themselves without the benefit of race results, or you removing any bird. Once you start to remove weak, sick, dying birds from the loft, you break the "natural" aspect of the selection.

I know what kal-el meant by Artificial vs. Natural Selection, and I think both are equal as far as end results are concerned. We only choose because we think we know. But, we don't know anything, because it is said over and over again...that only 10-20% of all pigeons born are any good. And, that folks, is Man's hands at work...
 

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I have had good luck with pairs that have picked their own mates. But my number one pair I did pair myself.

Condition what club you fly in down there?
 

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....On another related thought, I've always heard the advice from well-seasoned fliers say "If you want to do well, get good birds from guys locally." First of all, most local guys won't give you their best, even when $$$ is involved. Or at least you'd get their 2nd best with money. But when thinking more and more about that saying, is that actually the best route to go? Birds that perform well locally have "survived" time after time. Why go for out of region birds when they've flown different courses? For example, birds that have flown well in cold mountainous regions won't adapt well to flat, hot, and humid regions.

Please share your thoughts. :)
What makes you think out of area guys will sell you their "best" ? Nobody does, if they are staying in the sport. Would not make any sense to.

Why go out of the area ? That's a simple one....the goal is to get better then is availble locally. In my area, you are lucky to have 2000 birds in a race. If you buy a winner where the competition was say in Europe, where maybe they were flying against 5000 birds, 10,000, 20,000, 40,000, etc etc well you get the point.
 

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.......My thoughts are without artificial selection for your desired traits, you have not a chance, just luck in making your family better. Now you can start another debate here about whether eyes, conformation, size, etc have anything to do with winning races. In my opinion winning races should be your only selection criteria. The rest worthless.

Randy
The very vast majority of pigeon fanciers, will never get beyond the typical average fancier. If they do what everyone else does, they will never get beyond everyone else.

I agree with you 100%.

This whole business about selecting based on eyes, throat, wings, vents, etc. etc. etc. till you puke....is just to give everyone a nice warm fuzzy feeling that they are doing something different and worthwhile. If they have actually bred a strain of pigeons which is better then everything else out there, then let them send a few to the One Loft events and win so many out of turn, that people will have to say, he reinvented the racing pigeon. In the mean time most will keep on doing what they have always done....and then simply hope that somehow this year it will be different. I have always suspected that the average fancier, when he gets a little better year after year, is not really breeding better pigeons every year, he or she may simply just be getting a little better in their management.
 

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I have had good luck with pairs that have picked their own mates. But my number one pair I did pair myself.

Condition what club you fly in down there?
I fly with the Covington, Kentucky club (bands say "COV"), even though I live in Ohio. We are with the Greater Cincinnati Combine. I joined that particular club mostly because they were the smallest club and needed members. It is actually the furthest for me to travel to. But a great bunch of guys. It takes me about one and a half hours to drive to our club house. One way. I have never trained any birds further than the club house is from my home.

The Covington club used to be huge, numbers wise. But times have changed and many have gotten old or gone. I look at the names hanging on the wall of the club house and wonder what it must have been like "back then". When a club race had two dozen flyers and hundereds of birds for a race. Now our club sends maybe 50 birds at most to a young bird race. Of course we are getting a larger number in the Combine, so it is still something to do well in a race in the Combine. Usually around 200 birds or so for a young bird race, with 13 or 14 lofts.

Our club has actually added three (counting me) in the past year or so. Me, a 68 year old and a 40 year old. We need some younger people but they just ain't interested. I would say that the average age in our Combine is around 50-55.

Shame really. I hope other groups are doing better, or I think this sport will be gone in 15 years or so, in the U.S. But of course, this has been predicted for a long time (the sport dying), so maybe and hopefully I am wrong. I have participated in a lot of sports in my time and I truly find this one the most intriguing, satisfying and challenging. I have won medals in basketball, tennis, table tennis (ping pong), and racquetball in Ohio State Olympic Games over the last twenty years. I have also played football, vollyball and swimming a very long time ago.

But this sport of pigeon racing is the hardest to win at. For me anyway. And you can do it at 80 years old, with a can of beer in your hand. :) (I don't actually drink alcohol, but you get the idea).
 

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conditionfreak, when I first went to my club I asked about their youth races because online it said they had youth races, but the guys just said all young people aren't interested in this they just want to play video games, and stay on the computer all day...

I am a youth going into the sport and hobby of racing pigeons this year or the beginning of next (as advised by my mentor to be able to get better birds from the guys) with my father also interested in racing which helps. But I see the guys talking about getting younger people interested and I see online about fanciers trying to get younger people interested, I honestly think the sport is somewhat of a calling...that everyone should just let it be known that the sport does exists then I think that people who are really meant for the sport and want to be apart of it will do their research and learn as much as they can and become apart of the racing pigeon community.

But again as a youth and the only guy in my club under like 45 I hope the sport doesn't die for the sake of the youth fanciers who truely enjoy the sport. (even though I'm technically not one of them as I have not started out yet)

Thanks,
Shokri
 

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I do not see much being done with the club or combine, to promote the sport specifically directed towards youth. But there is some, just not much.

I personally (even though I am new to it), give siminars at the local YMCA, to their youth day camp in the summer. I go through the sport and explain how it works to a group of maybe 20 or so kids, aging around ten years old. I let them each hold and release a homer, and give them an unused band as a momento of the occsion. They seem very interested afterwards and a few have come up to me weeks later and told me that they had asked their mom or dad if they could have pigeons, but all said no. One kid who was real interested, told me that his mother said they are full of diseases and besides, they have a dog and cat already.

I also wear "Racing Pigeons, the Sport of Kings" type shirts around town and it does strike up conversations about it. I wore one to a retirement party for a Cleveland Cop, just last month. I had two already retired cops question me about the sport and they seemed very interested and said they were going to check it out further. These guys are in their 50's and 60's and said they had no idea about this sport, prior to talking to me about it. The guy who the retirement party was for, is also interested, but only in the aspect that he wants to do a white dove release part time business, along with his part time job of taking photograps and videos of weddings. He has no interest in actual racing.
 

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I do not see much being done with the club or combine, to promote the sport specifically directed towards youth. But there is some, just not much.

I personally (even though I am new to it), give siminars at the local YMCA, to their youth day camp in the summer. I go through the sport and explain how it works to a group of maybe 20 or so kids, aging around ten years old. I let them each hold and release a homer, and give them an unused band as a momento of the occsion. They seem very interested afterwards and a few have come up to me weeks later and told me that they had asked their mom or dad if they could have pigeons, but all said no. One kid who was real interested, told me that his mother said they are full of diseases and besides, they have a dog and cat already.

I also wear "Racing Pigeons, the Sport of Kings" type shirts around town and it does strike up conversations about it. I wore one to a retirement party for a Cleveland Cop, just last month. I had two already retired cops question me about the sport and they seemed very interested and said they were going to check it out further. These guys are in their 50's and 60's and said they had no idea about this sport, prior to talking to me about it. The guy who the retirement party was for, is also interested, but only in the aspect that he wants to do a white dove release part time business, along with his part time job of taking photograps and videos of weddings. He has no interest in actual racing.
I think what you are doing is great and we need everyone involved with the sport to do the same!
 

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Our club has actually added three (counting me) in the past year or so. Me, a 68 year old and a 40 year old. We need some younger people but they just ain't interested. I would say that the average age in our Combine is around 50-55.

I don't know if blame can be laid entirely on lack of interest. I'm 26, and getting in to the sport. I have friends from all age groups, but most of them run from 22-35 years old. My getting into the sport has caused quite a stir in them. I had friends that would show up on their days off last summer, at 8:30am to be there to watch the birds fly before feeding time. Getting these guys to get out of bed before 8:30am is a small miracle in itself.

A lot of them have the desire to get into flying...but the resources and time just isn't there to make it possible. Some are still in school - others just got out - but one thing for certain is not a single one of them owns their own patch of dirt yet, and probably won't for some time. That in itself makes it impossible for them to fly. You've got to have alot of life's big steps crossed off your list to get into flying these birds.

I think that times have changed - younger people are progressing towards stability at a slower rate in part due to more schooling necessary to compete in a shrinking job market. Even after school it will still take some years for them to settle into a career, and gain the credit necessary to apply for a mortgage. Today's economy is only going to serve to impede that goal for many younger people, the odds are stacked against them.

I am lucky that at a young age I was somehow able to put down some roots. It came with great sacrifice and clawing by tooth and nail, but there was a whole lot of luck involved too...good luck...and bad luck.
 

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Bella - My birds have the same affect on my friends. I'm hoping that some of their wives will allow them to start up the hobby/sport this year. Whenever we have a get together at my house we almost always end up in my backyard talking about my pigeons.
 

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Bella - My birds have the same affect on my friends. I'm hoping that some of their wives will allow them to start up the hobby/sport this year. Whenever we have a get together at my house we almost always end up in my backyard talking about my pigeons.
Isn't it strange the effect these birds can have on even the most skeptical person? Every time we have visitors - that is one of the first things they ask - can I see the birds fly?

There is a well worn path to the backyard, and it has not been just my own footsteps that have beat it down to it's current state:p

Many a deal has been sealed by my kit of whites passing overhead at our BBQ's...even the roughest person finds quiet, eyes to the sky.

Show the wives...:)
 

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I know of quite a few people in my local area that have racing pigeons, and I think most areas have these same people.

Most people who have pointing dog breeds own racing pigeons. It's a huge untapped market for clubs. I know many of these guys would enjoy racing, in fact were doing a local race, for a case of beer, with all my bird dog buddies.

Who knows maybe they will start racing at one of the clubs in the area.
 
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