Racing Pigeons. Exercising Patience with Training Young Birds.
I’ve been opening the loft the past few nights trying to get these 2012 Young Birds loft flying. I’ve started this year with about 62 Young Birds in the pigeon loft. As I’ve stated before, I really wish I had the new loft to a point where I could fly the birds from earlier in the year. Some of them should have been loft flying for a couple of months now. I was very fearful that many of these pigeons would be too strong on the wing and fly off.
I released the young birds for the first time last Saturday night. I simply opened the gates on the loft and let those who wanted to venture out on their own do so. I was pretty devastated when by the time it was dark, there were over 25 birds missing. There were a few who came back and trapped in on Sunday morning and when evening came I repeated the process.
Monday evening I was pleased when I counted the birds and had 60 young birds back in the loft. Once again I opened the loft and let out those birds who would come out on their own. Only about half of the pigeons came out time and very few took flight. They wanted to stand on the roof of the loft and the roof of my house. Calling the pigeons in to my whistle didn’t seem to work. They should have been hungry but they were enjoying being out. As darkness came, almost all of the birds trapped and I counted the birds at 55. Yesterday was Tuesday and I was pleased to find that I had 58 birds in the loft and another 3 which were out on top of the loft.
I am completely amazed that through all this, I have only lost one bird. Some of these young birds were banded back in January and now the end of May, I was finally able to let them out of the loft. I deserved to have fly-offs and losses of birds, I expected it. Not being able to complete the young bird section on my loft until just 4 days ago should have been disastrous. I am so pleased that just the opposite has happened. Luck? Who knows, I do feel lucky. I also feel that part of this was the fact the the loft was very open and the birds were flying up and down and perching on the roof trusses. This kept the birds in good condition and not just sitting around getting fat. The fact that they had an open view to the surroundings outside was also a plus. Good news is that I won’t have this same loft problems next year.
I considered a few options before letting these older young birds out of the loft including soaping wings and pulling flights. In the end I just decided that I should just let them do what they were bred to do and not force anything on them. I have been very patient with these birds while they are learning to loft fly. I have not pushed them out of the loft or scared them off the top of the loft to make them fly. I just open the loft and let them venture out when they are ready. I let them fly when they are ready.
Here’s an example video from last night several minutes after I opened the loft…
Young Bird Racing Pigeon Disaster?
There was an interesting thing that happened a little while after shooting this video. By this time many of the young birds had found there way to the roof of the loft. Some as in previous times out, were making a few laps around the area and coming back to land on the loft. The neighbor’s dog barked and this scared the majority of the birds off the top of the loft. They scattered everywhere and were flying in every direction. I had planned ahead enough to put my own dogs up so that they wouldn’t be able to catch and eat any unsuspecting and trusting young birds. What I hadn’t counted on is the dog next door mucking things up.
It was a sight to behold. Many of those birds flew out of sight. Some of them kept circling above and the interesting thing was the incredible altitude. They literally flew so high that the specks in the sky disappeared. I have only seen my birds at that kind of altitude one other time, and I assume they had been chased by a hawk. I lost birds that didn’t ever return that day. Once again these birds surprised me. By dark I had 50 birds back in the loft. There were 3 or 4 sitting on top of my house. Sometimes we’re lucky and sometimes pigeons are forgiving. Whatever it is… I’ll take it. I hate losing birds.
The main point I wanted to illustrate with this article is the importance of being patient with young birds and not forcing them out of the loft or off of the loft into flight. I feel it is of the utmost importance to let them decide to take these early flights on their own. As you can see from my experience, sometimes the outcome of this is not as we desire (neighbor’s dog). But we can try to control the situation to the best of our abilities. Put away the dogs, ask the kids to play in the front yard, watch for decent weather conditions etc…
Be Patient! Control the the variables you can, and good things will come.