Saturday, November 7, 2009

Company Still Using Pigeons As Couriers

This is a neat story the AU was running on their blog: Pigeon post is still delivering. Aren't these birds awesome?! I had to bring more attention to this. It's a good story but why is it only covered by a UK paper? It's a US company in Colorado after all! Check out the link - it has some great pictures.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Beautiful Weather

It is so beautiful and sunny outside. Makes me feel bad for the young birds. They're acting kind of "cagey". They want out bad. If I fly them this time of year, the hawks will decimate them. Too bad the young birds have only the front aviary - unlike the old birds and breeders who have a winter flypen.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Join the Evansville Racing Pigeon club

If you love working with animals, being outside, going for long drives (training drops), and you're competitive, this might be the family hobby for you. Great for 4H'rs too. Check out our local club (Evansville Racing Pigeon Club) and the national organization we're part of (The American Racing Pigeon Union).

Race Season's Over - Pairing up Young Birds

I had previously thought you could simply pair up "fastest" to "fastest". I've seen guys that did that with success. But this article has me rethinking that. The author says out crossing causes chaos. Very interesting. I DO have two really large, apple bodied Houbens from Mark that are from the same family. Both are blue checks. I'm not a fan of blue checks and blue bars but I like their other attributes. Same for a pair of Ganus Janssen blue bars. Both are HUGE - very tall birds. They are also from the same family. So there's my first two pairs. 2619 and Splash are both throwing pretty good racers - that makes 4 pairs. That big old silver Ganus (I assume all birds from George are from his initial Ganus stock) always produces first bird on the drop. So, pair him with his daughter (his mate died). That's 5 good pairs. The rest, I will use on the old bird team or use as foster parents. So, that's the plan. I'm ready. Too bad I have to wait until December to pair them up and let them set eggs. Right now I really need to get them separated and rest them up.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Yup! I'm done

I sat out both 300's. 225 left me with 12 birds. I'm stopping ("No Whammy! No Whammy!). Time to separate the pairs for a while and let everyone rest. I'm not even going to do the 165 repeat of the earlier canceled race. I like the 12 I've got. A pretty bunch! They've all been to Alabama - that's good enough for an Indiana young bird, IMO. Just wish 385 would've made it back. It'll be interesting to see the old bird team next year. I have nearly 40. The largest team I've ever had.

Friday, October 9, 2009

366 Returns

This little blue bar is lucky to be alive. When she was only a few days old, her nest mate was more than twice her size. I don't know if she was late hatching and just able to compete with 366 for food but her parents weren't feeding her and then abandoned them both. (Their mother was a strange blue bar hen that showed up this Spring and paired off with my Silver Bar). I fostered out both separately. 363 did well under one of my best breeding pair. 366 was rejected again. They say the pigeons can tell when there's a deficiency and intentionally let some of the weak young die. When I found her on the loft floor, she was cold, her crop was empty and she hand been trampled - a lot! Her body was red and bruised all over. I put her under 2619. She was too weak to raise her head to feed. I didn't figure she would make it, but she did. She was one of the last three I trained out late. I sent her, along with the other late hatches and a couple of birds with short flights on the shorter 165 mile race. She's not a strong flyer and has came in late on training drops. 4 days for 165 miles - not too good. But, she found her way. A lot of times, they get much better after being lost and finding their way back.

Welcome back 366! No you won't be going to Birmingham - not this year anyway. We'll see how she does as a yearling next Spring.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

2nd Alabama Race

The original plan was to skip the 2nd 225 on Saturday and then fly the 300 mile on Sunday with another club. I only had 13 left, but the 13 I had left were pretty good, in my opinion. They were all pretty consistent and one time. So I wasn't going to fly but instead have a skirmish sprint with a couple other club members for fun. Then that looked like it was falling through so I decided to just rest the birds. Probably not a good idea - but I was also resting myself and saving a lot of gas. Then, on Thursday, they changed the race back to the original schedule. I hadn't trained all week. I knew better. I should've put them all on the B race (which was 165 miles) instead of 225 miles. The weather was not kind to them either. A strong cross wind blew them east and I am, by a good distance, the furthest loft west. I only got back 10 of the 13 I sent. The next day, I got another - in the afternoon! It was a late hatch I sent on the B race. I only lost two - but for some reason, I lost my two best birds - and my personal favorite, 385, a beautiful Black Eagle cock. You can't see it in the picture, but after his moult, and a few hard races, he looked good enough to show. He had really put on some muscle and his feathers and neck were beautiful. I'm still hoping he'll straggle in.

I am considering NOT racing either of the 300's. But if I don't, no amount of road training I can do will get them in shape to compete the ones that do when we make up the 165 mile race that was canceled.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Results from Alabama

Got 13 of 16 back the first day. One was really late (Silverboy came in about 6pm). Of the rest, the other half came in on time. Still missing 363, 372 and 390. 363 was from the 115 drop. 382 was the first bird in. He was on the B race. He's never done that well, so I sent him on the short race. I think I pulled Harlequin to the short race at the last minute. I can't remember. But, if not, he was right on time and the first bird in from the A race. He came in with two others. I think it was 385 and 377. If it was 377, he delayed trapping in and took off for a few hours (the hawk was spooking the birds). He flew up on the house to drink from the gutters. That's when I tried to shoo him away (I discourage them from drinking gutter water) and he left for a long time. However, when he was on the roof, I got a pretty good look at him. I couldn't see a racing band AND I could swear it was a pied blue check - not a pied blue bar. I think it may have been the lost 388.

The next morning (Monday, today) I didn't get out there early enough. I should've had the trap open before sunrise. A lot of times they come in at twilight in the early morning. When I finally got up there, I saw a Cooper in brown phase circling low. He took off NW. After I fed and watered the birds, that common that's been hanging around got spooked and took off really fast. "The hawk must've came back", I thought. I stepped out to watch him. She flew really fast toward the west where I saw her kit up with three pigeons - definitely pigeons. They flew off west. "Oh, maybe she's gone to tell them the trap's open", I thought. Later, as I was leaving for work - I checked again - no new birds. Just then, the common came zooming in alone. [Pictured above birds loaded for Athens, Alabama Saturday night].

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Alabama bound!

I held back half for the shorter B race of 115 miles. A few had short #8 primaries. I sent 9 to the 225 mile Athens, AL "A" race. Three of them were the unbanded. The B race will be interesting. Our new comer entered 21 birds in it. Good Luck all!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


Crummy picture. I was hoping to demonstrate the HUGE difference between a common barn pigeon and a racing homer. The little head, the beady red eyes, the tiny frame. Next to the closer 8 week old hen, he doesn't look that different. Plus the picture is fuzzy. When they trap in and you catch them - they feel like a roller. Tiny and frail. A racing homer is twice the weight and has a strong back and feels powerful. It's the eyes and brain pan that really make the difference. I'd need a better picture and a mature bird to compare it with to make my point clear.

I didn't train today. Too rainy. I was going to take them 12 miles to the break point but it started sprinkling. I'd imagine this common will trap in the next time I fly the birds. He's been hanging around since yesterday.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Ms.Garmin Thinks The Sun Has Risen

Ha! I call her Ms.Garmin. I gave my GPS a female British voice. It's funny, right at sunset, the background goes from dark blue to off white - but it flickers back and forth first to get your attention. Neat. I've been seeing that happen a lot lately (not so neat). Even though i know exactly how to get back & forth, it's nice on the more unusual drops to know my ETA to work. Of course, I've got this one down cold. So does the 2009 Young Bird Team.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Bad Weather for Race - Bad for training?

I should've stopped at the 42 mile drop. It was way before sunrise. I was taking the team to the 64 mile drop for the benefit of the 3 late arrivals who have not raced. Their first race was to be this week - 165 miles. Now it looks like their first race will be 225 miles. That worries me (for them). So, I really wanted them to have the extra depth and the conditioning. Boy did they get conditioning! I knew at about 50 miles the overcast sky and fog was getting ugly. At 60 miles it was pea soup - I started looking for a place to turn around. Didn't find it until the exit. Hmmm, it was better here. They'd just have to plow through 3 miles of fog then it'd be fairly clear... Stupid idea! I knew better. It seemed to get foggier as I let them settle. Visibility was better than a mile, I thought. Not great. They use their internal compass at this distance anyway - right? I couldn't wait - the weather revised on my way down and the area's likelihood for rain spiked and was suggesting they might get rain at 8am instead of 9am. The 42 mile drop was predicting rain at 11am. It was 7:30am. If they could just plow through a bit of fog ... I released them. They circled for a long time. I thought they were gone and left and ran into them east of the drop. They were still circling. Ug! Not good! I stopped at Wal-Mart and killed a good 30 minutes then and to do a huge round about after running into the "Race for the Cure" crowd downtown. So, it was nearly 2.5 hours before I got home. "They're not here yet" my loft manager informed me as I pulled up. Oh no! 105 km and they fly about 1 km per minute (it's easier to do the math in metric don't you think?) They should've been here! Really bummed and fearing I'd lost some or all of the birds, I started putting away groceries. As I came back for the 2nd load, I looked and there they were! I ran up to see. 11 of 16! I was waiting on 372, 363, 366, 396 and 376. Not bad! About 30 minutes later, the late silver bar 363 came in alone. Another 30 minutes, 396 and 372 came in together. A good hour or more later, the puny blue bar 366 and 376 came in. These two were late hatches and 366 is lucky to be here at all. I fostered her out when I thought she was a goner. I was pleased to see her nest mate doing so well. Their father, a silver bar, produces good birds (so far). Not too bad after all - just gotta remember to NEVER do that again.

WHY DO I DO THIS? Do I think it is compelling reading for others? Maybe for another racer. But I really just do it to keep track of all of the little details from training. Who was late, when, why, etc. If you find it useful - that's cool too.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Deja vu all over again

Weather was 30% chance of rain but it looked iffy AFTER I got up, fed and watered all three lofts (and chickens too) and had them boxed. It was trash day and I was actually ahead of schedule. I had plenty of time to settle the birds and watch them disappear over the horizon. The wind was calm to 2mph NW, still, they beat me home today. They will stay up all day and get boxed for a 2nd race from 165 miles. I hope I have them in better condition than last time. Three of them have never been on a race. I dropped a bird yesterday, a small red hen, and so I am down to 16 birds (and 3 of them are unbanded). All 13 will go on the A Race and the 3 unbanded will have to prove themselves out to 225 to stay in the loft unbanded (two are really pretty - that gets them a pass on 300 miles).

Thursday, September 17, 2009

More Road Training

Nice morning. Again, they looked good. You can tell they like this drop and they know where there are (42 miles SSE-ish of home). I like this drop too. I can usually watch them for quite a while. AND, I remembered to get a picture - this time ALL 17 birds are in the pic! (Can you find them all?)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Training resumes - Working the break point

Short drop. I didn't set my alarm early. I figured I'd be awake anyway. Besides, there was a 40% chance of rain predicted. Even in the hourly forecast as I went to bed. Instead - it was beautiful so I took everyone on a short drop (12 miles) to work the break point. If the weather holds up, I'll get them 42 miles tomorrow and Friday (yes, the day we load for the 165 mile race again). Since I've been keeping them up during the day (due to hawk activity) they're getting lazy. I have to flag them in the air in the evenings or they'd just bum around on the other loft - or not even leave the interior. I have two hens who want to sit. I've given them dummy eggs to keep them from laying again but I worry about their conditioning. One was the first bird in, the other was the very last bird in and the only bird to come in a day late. She stopped setting at that point. Hopefully she'll be i better shape this time. No pics. I wasn't thinking. Still asleep I guess.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Need More Road Training - Back at it!

What a beautiful sky at 5:30am! The sun is rising so much later now. I got to the 42 mile drop just after twilight. The orange sun was just beginning to emerge above the tree line. It's going to get tough to get out this far, release after sunrise and still get to work on time. No problem today though. I was hoping they'd swing back towards the east so I could capture a picture of them against the sunrise but they new exactly where they were and headed straight home.

This weekend's race results were about what I expected. Close but I got 5th of 5 lofts for first bird in. All the rest were on the 2nd page. They sat out a race and I didn't get them out much. In fact, I kept them up the entire Labor Day weekend (which was also Dove Season opening weekend) - I didn't even loft fly them! Due to weather, they flew Sunday rather than Saturday and had great returns. Next week is a repeat of the 165 mile race. I'll be adding the 3 late hatches and racing (hopefully) 14 birds in the A Race instead of 8. Looking forward to another beautiful day of grilling out and waiting on the birds.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Still Waiting on 3

I was going to wait until clocking out to post but decided to post anyway. Chicago Snow came in alone WAY ahead of the pack. 3 more came in within the hour and that made 4 of the 8 sent on the A Race. The B Race contained only unbanded, non-race-able birds - but 3 of these four are my favorites due to their coloring. Silverboy and Harlequin are still out. That really pretty silver-red bar was extremely late. The first 4 birds back were wiped out. There was a 7-8 mph head wind. They were out of shape. Funny the 6th bird back was quite refreshed and perky (372) - he'll do better in the long races perhaps? I tried to get some fat on them, not a bad thing, but with so much rain and fog I only got in two days of good road training. So, this will be a busy week!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Foggy Again - But Trained Anyway

I didn't train yesterday morning (due to fog) so I immediately took them to the break point (about 12 miles by air) after work. They easily beat me home. HOWEVER, I took the 3 late hatches that had JUST GOTTEN IN! Mistake. I knew it the moment I released. The puny blue bar was lagging behind and never came in. I was going to send them out this weekend. I have decided to wait a week and get them several more 42 mile training tosses in. I noticed the white grizzle late hatch was looking pretty tired after the evening toss so I left him and the late silver bar behind this morning. The rest came in for 42 miles pretty easily despite the fog.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Late Trained Begin Arriving

I figured one of the two from the "injured/reserved" team would've came home before the late hatches. I was surprised about 376 - a little. Although a late hatch - he has a superior perch position to all of the others in the "late 5" group. I was really expecting the better trained pied blue check though, who perches close by.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Training Pays Off

Or, lack of training is obviously not a good thing. I sent out 20 birds - 5 were the late ones. They they did fine from 24 miles. I jumped them up to 42 miles. This is always the next hop. But, I usually hit all the drops 3-4 times each. These guys only got dropped twice from each spot. No time. So much rain lately! I thought if they went out with the other 15 they'd follow them home with no problem. The other 15 came in on time. The 5 didn't make it at all. Maybe they'll find their way tomorrow. I said it before - never again will I train out a 2nd batch.

A Different Kind of Pigeon Race

I'm a UNIX systems administrator - a computer geek. I also raise and race pigeons. So, this article really grabbed my attention! It was an article about racing pigeons on one of my tech/geek blogs: SlashDot. Evidently, someone wrote an RFC (technical documentation) for the Standard for the Transmission of IP Datagrams on Avian Carriers. That is, sending data using racing pigeons! Of course, this has been done (for a couple millennium) but they are now applying the standards of TCP/IP (the Internet Protocol) to the data. That is, how do you handle packet loss? (Such as interception by Prairie Falcon). Although, it was meant as a joke, they were able to use it. In one example they sent a 4GB SD card by pigeon in 48 minutes.

So now, a company in New Zealand is sponsoring a race between ADSL and Winston the Pigeon. The link details the race and you can win Samsung Netbook NC10 (with built-in 3g networking). Pretty wild!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Missed a good race?

They said they cross winds were favorable and they "had 100% return". Go figure. That last 2 years the opening weekend for dove season has been bad. I saw a dove hunter 1 mile west of my loft. I didn't even fly my birds all weekend. Oh well, better safe than sorry. The weather looks good for road training. {yeah}

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Waiting out dove season opening

I guess the clock will go unused for a while. Right now, just finishing up the training on the late 5 young birds. I feel like I have them out far enough I can train them with the others now.

The weather forecasting has been of again. I was running late as usual - stayed in bed too long. But I got both lofts fed and watered and boxed up the 20 racers for a training drop of 24 miles. By the time I got 3 miles, it started raining. In my haste, I had forgotten my personal phone and my work Blackberry (which is really handy for checking The Weather Channel website as well as taking and uploading photos from the drops). So, I stopped in at work and checked the radar. No good. It looked like it was mostly south (where I was headed) so I delayed a bit and took them, instead, to the breakpoint on this side of the river. It was only a 12 mile drop but it was just as well. The thunderstorms may have caused them some navigation issues. They circled a long time before meandering off in the right direction. I noticed it was calm - no wind. They made it back on time and trapped straight in. I guess they were hungry. I had fed them NutraBlend Gold pellets - mainly carbs the night before. They washed it down with 1/2 strength Gatorade mixed with VitaKings 5-1. They normally hate the 5-1. The Gatorade really helped. They drank it down pretty fast.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Still training the 5 reserve birds

They took off, zig-zagging in the right direction from the 24 mile training drop. It is supposed to rain Friday. I will drop them (along with the other 15 young birds) from here tomorrow. After that, we will start taking them on the regular road conditioning with the rest of the team. This will be the 42 mile drop at least twice a week and the breakpoint (this side of the river) at least once. I might try to get them to the 64 once before the 165. Never training a 2nd batch out again! (I've said that before, but I mean it!)

Monday, August 31, 2009

Got First Race Results

I didn't do as badly as I thought. My first birds got 29, 30 & 31 then I got 38, 42 & 44 and I gave up not knowing how well I was doing. My first 3 birds beat 2/3rds of the pack and the others followed close behind. The hawk activity might've caused my delay - or, I didn't work the break point enough - not sure - but I was really pleased that 11 of the 12 A Race birds basically all came in together! I didn't clock the last 5 (loft manager did) but if they had been clocked electronically, all of my birds would've made the first page. That's pretty good in my book. Plus, I know I wore them out on Wednesday and then hit them with meds Thursday (because they were out so long and looked like they drank from suspicious sources). So I know they weren't 100%. We'll skip this weekends repeat of the 115 mile (Dove Season Opening Weekend) and I'll get some fat on them (and some road training) before the 165 mile - when they will have 5 new members (the late hatches).

Also, I started the season with 22 young birds and after training out to 64 miles 3 times, I still had all 22! I dropped 1 on that final training drop from 86 miles (375) and then I dropped another on this race (388). Weird thing is - they were both blue checks - not the "colors". (Okay, they were pied).

Getting the 5 Reserve Birds Up to Speed

They're doing nicely. I will send them out with the rest from 24 miles Wednesday. After that, hope to get them up to the 50 mile drop before Dove Season. I'm not flying Labor Day Weekend so between dove season and their first race (165 miles) I should be able to get them out a bit further at least once. Whew! I'm sure glad gas is not $4.28/gallon like it was last year at this time.

Tonight we load the results into the computer it see how badly I did. With only 5 lofts (down from 12 lofts 3 years ago) I am by far the least experienced loft. Plus, I didn't expect my experiment to breed only "colors that can race" to bear fruit this year.

Sunday, August 30, 2009


My "pick birds" both came in first on the drop (along with Lemon). They were followed closely by Chocolate and Chicago Snow and then Dopey! However, by this time the other 4 lofts had gotten more than a dozen in and beat me by 10 minutes at last. Grr! I wonder if the hawk activity delayed them? I was relieved to see 382 back! I was worried about him. Not real fast, but he made it! I still have one straggler out. I think it's one of the reds.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Race Day Eve

I managed to get the 5 in reserve out to 6 miles twice today. Tomorrow they will go 12 twice and then Monday I will have them across the river! But, today we boxed for the 115 mile race from Pleasant View, TN. I had 12 in the A race and sent the 4 unbanded on the B race. Here's a pic of 382 looking at me. Good luck 382 and the rest!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Race Postponed 1 Day

The Race Secretary just called and said the race is postponed 1 day due to weather. Yeah, it had looked iffy but I thought it cleared up. Better safe than sorry!.

Boxing up birds for 115 mile race tonight

The weather is supposed to be bad tonight, but clear tomorrow. I guess I'll have 16 birds to ship - 12 on the A race and the 4 unbanded for the B race. I still have the 5 reserve birds I need to get trained out before the 165 mile race in 3 weeks. I'll get them out 6 miles twice this weekend and to 12 miles by the start of next week and then be cross the river with them before Labor day weekend and the beginning of dove season (I'm not flying next week due to dove season). I can't wait to see who shows up first tomorrow!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Final Exam

What a nail biter! I haven't dropped a bird or even had a straggler up to now. Today was clear, kind of hot, and, as I found out after I released, there was NO wind. "No wind is hard on them" I was told by my mentor. They need a bit of a cross wind for lift. They have to work extra hard when there's no wind. So, today's 86 mile drop is especially tough. This is the drop that reminds me I need to get baskets that I can water them in. They didn't look hot and they had plenty of time to get water before the 2 hour drive. This was a good test. The first race is 115 miles and the rest of the week looks "iffy" for training.

P.S. Man! It must've been MUCH tougher than I thought. Good grief! They took 3 and a half hours to go 86 miles. That's the first time they've ever been late.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Last Drop from 64 miles

The sky at 4:45am is awesome. Your eyes are so well dark adjusted, you can see billions of stars. Plus, you get a 3 month preview of the evening sky which means my favorite winter constellations are up (as well as a couple of planets). It was very clear. It's tough to release 64 miles south and get to work on time. The problem is you can't leave too early because you have to wait for the sun to come up. I waited until about 15 minutes after sunrise. They did great! They started cooing before I set them on the ground. They seemed to be settled. You could tell they knew it was the same drop as Sunday. I was running 10 minutes late so I released them quickly. They didn't even circle! They just took off straight north until they vanished into the fog (yeah - it was a bit foggy here and there). I forgot the Blackberry so no pics. Take my word for it - they looked great!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Slept in a bit

I was pretty tired this morning. I got a MUCH later start. Didn't release the birds until 11am. Oops! I was going to show those Mennonites my mechanical pigeon clock (Now they'll know I slept in and skipped church today). This place I was releasing from was a church. The stables are next door. It looks like they unhitch their horses and stable them before church. Wow! Oh, and the birds beat me home - even with a 9mph head wind!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

"Late bred - Brain dead"?

They say the late hatches are usually no good. I have 3 late hatches and the two injured birds I pulled I am now going to try to get ready for the 165 mile race in 3 weeks.

My Favorite Drop

I love this drop. My ancestors were from this area. Plus, there is this really nice Mennonite couple that I talk to that really enjoy watching my releases. And, if they make it back from 64 miles, I feel like they're pretty much trained! So, this is graduation! I may get an 85 mile training drop in if I can but if I can't, I'm not worried about them. They did wonderfully! They had a 6-7 mph head wind. I had cruise control set on 70mph on the way back. I had to stop and get gas and go a bit east of of my way to cross the bridge (whereas they could fly a bee-line straight home). Still, with a 6-7 mph head wind, they were probably only going to travel at half the speed as me. So, I wasn't surprised when I got home and they weren't there. I walked straight up to double check. Nope - not here yet. The breeding loft is raising an extra round for a friend of mine. It's a HUGE extra round because it has my old bird team too. Even though I gave them double before I left, they wanted more. Sheesh! So, as I tossed a scoop of feed down, the young bird team landed on the loft and started trapping in! They're good! No circling - just straight in - ALL 17! Contratualtions Young Bird Team 2009! You've made it!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Landmarks for homing?

I was on the 4th floor of the library at lunch and I could see the see the smoke stacks just up from the break point (3rd drop - pretty sure that's the break point anyway). What a great landmark for them - 6 miles SSE, or so. It is also the 2nd training drop and, I'm pretty sure by their flying, something they look for from the 3rd training drop. I think they use the parkway to navigate too. Some others believe so as well.

Back at it!

Thunderstorms rolled through last night. The radar showed a few spritzes of green between here and the drop when I got up. By the time I boxed the birds and took a shower - they were gone. Still, considering the possible ionizing of the atmosphere, I decided to drop them a 4th time from the 42 mile point. The sky looked clear at 5am. The winter constellations were very bright.

It looked like it was going to be a beautiful day. They had a 5-6mph tail wind. I let them go (and then got an email on my Blackberry which messed up my photo) and they took off in the right direction. By the time I uploaded this photo and got the car turned around (a couple of minutes) they were back - and circling. They took off straight east (opposite direction to home). They must've course corrected pretty quickly after that because they made it home on time. Tomorrow - big jump up! 64 miles! Or 100+ km (that sounds even more impressive, eh?)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Another Pretty Evening

Just a pic. Looked nice up there today.

Another No-Training day

And, again, the day doesn't look half bad. So, here's another book to read. Nothing specifically about homers but lots of good loft building and loft maintenance stuff. They really had it down to a science by 1898!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

No road training day

This as from last night, although could've been this morning. Nice looking day. The radar looks clear to the 64 mile drop but there's a thin band of alleged thunderstorms coming a few miles out. Any amount of electrical disturbance is bad for a new drop. So, we loft fly today.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Last drop at 42 miles

I was about 10 minutes late to work. The construction was a bottleneck and I got behind an 18 wheeler through town. Ug! Anyway, the birds did great. That was the 3rd drop from 42 miles and the 2nd in less than 24 hours (I just dropped them at noon yesterday). They definitely knew which was to go despite zero time settling (big hurry). I had a great pic of their release but my Blackberry was out of memory since taking so many pics of the boy scout campout this weekend. I rushed back to work running about 75 (in a 70) and just before I got off of the parkway a state trooper came zooming up on my tail. Yikes! I dropped back to 68 or so and he ramped off. Whew!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Big jump up!

Guess who showed up again yesterday? 382!! She's back. Most likely chased away by the reported hawk. I know they were spooked because they we all in the loft on a beautiful, sunny day. I'm glad they feel safe there.

It was good to have the team back together as we jumped up from 24 miles to 42! I love this drop. It is SO easy - just off the Interstate. It takes me the same amount of time to do this as to do the 24 mile drop because I just stay on the Interstate all the way down. I also like the big wide area. I can watch them for a long time. There's no one around except the occasional mall walkers.

They did great! They came in right on time on the first drop (as they have the whole time!) What a great group! Others are reporting similar success. I wish I had been tracking sun spot activity. Maybe that makes the difference? It has also been a cooler summer than I can remember. I'll do this same drop tomorrow, although a bit later. Then it is supposed to rain again all week. After the 3rd drop from here, we goto 62 miles. It is at that point most consider them trained. I'll probably (hopefully) go to 84 miles at least once before the race on the 28th and then most of my road training will be from here. The first race is only 92 miles for me. Heck, I'll bet they could do it now.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Split release

It was a bit hazy and the fog was clearing off. It made for a beautiful sunrise. The sun was HUGE and orange with horizontal stripes. I took a picture of it but it didn't even come close to capturing it. Also, for some reason, I saw dead fox everywhere on the drive down. Three! That's a lot of fox sitings (either dead or alive) for a month for me - and all within an hour!

Anyway, the birds were doing so well, I thought I'd try splitting them up - to make sure some weren't just goofing off and following the others. I have 2 injured and 3 late hatches so, with the loss of 382, I'm down to training only 16. Easy math: 8 per basket (I'll be down to one basket pretty soon at this rate). The first basket circled a bit more than last time but finally took off in the right direction. I waited 5 more minutes AFTER they were out of sight, then released the 2nd basket. They circled quite a bit, then meandered toward the right direction. Then, to my shock, the first batch emerged from the tree line and the two flocks merged. Grrr! They must've been waiting on them! Pretty tricky!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Lost 382

I really hate it when I lose them free lofting. There's a Cooper hanging around. Looks like I will need to keep them put up. That stinks! Goodbye 382! Why do they always take the white ones!!

Overslept - no training

It was kind of foggy anyway ... that's what I keep telling myself. Arg! Missed a great training opportunity. Hmmm, I wonder how late I could release them from the 24 mile drop (after work?) Nope - I goofed and missed it!

Anyway, ran across a free 11 minute version of Marathon in the Sky. I am hoping to talk the scouts into seeing the 55 minute version. Then, at a later meeting, maybe a "pigeons in war times" demo.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Perfect weather!

Better shot this morning! A bit too easy for them I think. Last time they zig-zagged a bit. This time they took off pretty much straight in the correct direction. I think I'll release them one basket at a time tomorrow. I hope the fog stays away.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Rainy, no training

Started off nice, but the weather report said rain. As it was - could've probably gotten away with it as it is just now starting to rain.

We used Tripod for the Evansville Racing Pigeon Club website. That editing service seems to be going away. Good thing I added Twitter to it before that happened - otherwise I'd have to migrate the site. Now I've got time! Most of the changing stuff is external - like Twitter & Google calendar.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Not so good with the photography today

It's harder to simulateously release two baskets and take a well framed picture than you might think! I guess I got really lucky on this one.

Moved up to 24 miles

This almost didn't happen. I slept straight through the first alarm. Man I was tired. We really did a lot of walking over the weekend. The Mammoth Cave walking really zapped us. It was about 100 degrees yesterday too! But, I checked the weather report and decided to force myself to stumble out to the loft and box the young birds up. I considered NOT jumping up because there was an electrical storm 6 hours away. But, am pressed for time so I went ahead and jumped up to the 24 mile drop. They looked good and headed quickly in the generally correct direction. The weather looks like it will be iffy until Thursday. I'd love to be done with this and be able to move onto the 42 mile point by the time the weekend is over.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Too busy to train this weekend - Book suggestion

Since I cannot training this weekend - I have no update. Instead, I offer you another free book suggestion. The pleasures of a pigeon-fancier by Joseph Lucas. Published in 1886, it is also an enjoyable read. It is a collection of essays on why he likes keeping pigeons. (Hint: The author really likes almond tumblers!) It's really pretty interesting. His focus is showing pigeons but he works in all kinds of things. These types of books must be where Wendell Levi got a lot of his historical references. Pigeon raising was SO popular in the past but the libraries have pulled all of these books and they are long out of print. This is a wonderful way to preserve books that would otherwise be lost for all time. Hope you enjoy it!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Foggy morning wastes my morning

I was hoping to get the birds out to the elementary school 18 miles south and trio toss them (toss three at a time). I don't guess I'll get to. It was a very foggy morning. It had cleared up quite a bit until 2 miles before the drop (ain't that always the way?!) Then, suddenly, it was about 1/4 mile visibility. So, I started back tracking. I was going to go to the river, straight across from my 12 mile drop but I stopped off at the community college. It's a nice place to drop from. It's probably close to 15 miles. 70 minutes to get a 15 mile toss in AND I'm still 25 minutes from work! Ug! I could see the smoke from power company stacks which were 6 -7 miles away so that meant the visibility was pretty good from here. I used to let them settle 30 minutes, 2 years ago. Last year I got it down to 10 minutes. Now I just let them settle until they stop rotating their heads looking at the sky and start bugging each other for space and cooing. That was a bit over 3 minutes this morning. They did a semi-circle and took off straight for home.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Nice Racing Pigeon Book

I am amazed at how many good pigeon books there are on Of course, they are from the 19th century - but then, again, I am amazed at the quality of the information. The information on housing, feeding, etc. would still all work. Even more amazing, the racing pigeon training information is usable as well. For example, one of my favorites is the 1879 volume called The Practical Pigeon Keeper. It has a lot of nice illustrations and chapter XIX (19) on page 221 is about racing homers. Check it out and tell me: Is there any advice given here that would be considered wrong? It doesn't appear so to me.  There are about a dozen more. I think I'll review them on the off days (if I get a chance) and post links here.

Did not train today

It was supposed to be rainy. It was, instead, another beautiful morning - and I slept in. Bummer. Not sure I would've taken them out 18 miles, but I could've gotten a 6 mile drop on the way to work. Oh well, they needed a break from being rousted about so much lately. I didn't get to take them to the scout meeting either. The door to the loft was unlatched and had blown open. They were all out when I got home. Yikes! That has never happened before! I'm sure glad the cats were put up! Thursday may be clear enough to get back out. Hope so.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Last training day for a while

The weather is supposed to be lousy the rest of the week. Today, however, is beautiful! They did 18 miles in much less than 30 minutes. Of course, they had a 6mph tail wind today. I may trio toss them from here next Monday. After that, we'll jump up to 24 miles. Or, I may just jump up to 24 miles because we're going to lose a week and we box for the first race in 24 days! Yikes!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Moved it out another 3.6km

Yesterday was so easy - AND the spot was so awful (a private company and too many power lines) that I decided to go up the road to the grade school. It's a nice spot, a bit further out than I had remembered. Again, they did great! The came in before I expected AND I didn't even factor in the 7mph head wind. I'll try this one again tomorrow. Then it looks like 7 days of rain according to the forecast.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

New spot - plus double training day!

Finally! We're across the river! It's probably only 15 miles. It completes the triangle I was talking about. A triangle with 3.5 mile sides at the break point. I feel like they're well trained and pretty good homing pigeons! The best group so far. Not sure how fast they are but they all come in together and on time.

Since they were doing so well I decided to give them a 2nd toss. I've never done 2 tosses in one day before. I took them up to the boy scout troop drop 6 miles NNE - a very unusual drop (we train S-SSE). I was in a hurry so I just put 17 birds in a 15 bird basket. When I got there, I noticed some were hot so I didn't settle them at all - just turned them out. They didn't beat me home - which made me nervous. I filled the bath pans for the old birds (they were very excited!) and when I looked up the young bird team was coming in from NNE. Pretty cool! They get their baths next! They'll be happy!

Friday, July 31, 2009

Too foggy? Hope not

It was horribly foggy in the valley before the bottom lands. I would've figured the river bottoms would've been foggy but they were really clear. It took me a while to get there so I was hoping the bright sunshine would've burned off the fog I passed through 15 minutes earlier. Anyway, it looked good and I was short on time so I let them go. They circled up an started NW. I thought "That's strange all my birds follow the river from here, but they're headed across land. That's good! They must see the power station smoke stacks." Then, I looked towards where the smoke stacks should be, 5 miles NNW and noticed: They're not there! That was where the wall of fog started. Not good. About then, the birds veered south toward the river and started following it like they always do.

Yesterday's hawk attack scared two of the reds real bad. They didn't trap in until dusk. They didn't even hang around. Not sure where they went. The reds are a skittish lineage anyway. I tend to think the less calm birds are less intelligent - but they keep coming home. Despite that - they were really easy to box this morning. They know the drill now. They are calm and are handled easily. They drop to the loft floor and wait to be picked up. I think they can start self loading now. Last year, I would just set the basket on the ground open and they would just walk in towards the end. You get the sense they now what's going on and they're excited about it. They are so amazingly intelligent! Like dogs - maybe even smarter in some ways.

The Janssen blue bar cock that was attacked through the wire mesh had a gouge in his crop, under his wing. He was on a bottom perch, squinting and obviously feeling bad. Wow! He's a big guy. After handling young birds so much lately, it was an amazing contrast. The wound had already closed and scabbed over by the time I got there or I probably would've stitched it up. I put some triple antibiotic on it and put him in his nest box with his mate. He cooed and strutted a bit which I took as a good sign. He seemed to be doing okay this morning too.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

First Hawk Attack in Months

Loft manager reported in: A Cooper's Hawk chased off some of the young birds. It went after an old bird in the aviary - got him through the fencing (2" mesh). Drew blood - not sure how bad. "He was on the ground for a while and then went in. He had blood on his neck." Good bird. He went out 300 miles this year. He was a 2007 and sire to my fastest 08 young bird. Hope he's ok.

Note Wikipedia's "Conservation Status" on the Cooper: "Least Concern". Yeah, I feel the same! Grrr!!

I dropped them anyway

What's with the terrible weather forecasting lately?! I checked the Weather Channel on my Blackberry and it was supposed to be clear at least until 10am. Instead, after I box the birds, it starts pouring down. It let up but it was slightly foggy and overcast. I was going to take them out 12 miles for the 4th time anyway but chickened out and decided to drop from 5 miles NE instead (a new, odd drop designed to show them off to the scouts). I decided it was not a good day to drop from a strange direction and turned around and headed toward the 6 mile drop and then chickened out again and just dropped them from 4 miles. They circled once and headed straight home.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

No training day

Crummy weather. Only took them 6 miles east yesterday (it was on my way). For an unusual direction, I was impressed how quickly they took off in the correct direction. I want to get them used to the east in case they follow Evansville birds home. I will take them 5 miles NE Monday evening to drop them at the Boy Scout meeting. Who knows, maybe someone will become interested. Friday was supposed to be clear - they've changed the forecast. The weekend is now clear so I should be able to get them across the river Sunday.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Back to the 3.3 mile E of Seminary drop

Again, they flew east and got home (in the NW) on time somehow. One more drop from Seminary road and then I go across the river - Friday? Tomorrow and Friday are the ONLY days they are not predicting thunderstorms in the next 10 days. I have 12 more drops MINIMUM that I would like to accomplish in 3o days (and sounds like I'll lose 10 of those). That would get me to Crofton once but I'd prefer to do Crofton 3x and Fort Campbell once.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Pretty Day for training

It is a beautiful Sunday morning. There are a lot of bike riders out on the river bottoms this morning.

Following the river

They are definitely following the river. That's okay from this point, but Friday's drop, 3 miles east, it would've been better to take the diagonal across land. They did very well. I had only one straggler. Surprisingly, an older bird, the mealy I didn't get banded right.

Working the breakpoint

Moved the drop 3 miles west and a bit south back to my usual drop point on Seminary Road. Across the river, at Alt 41 and the Henderson by-pass is a point that looks like it will make a near perfect isosceles triagle of 3-3.5 miles per side. I'm going to alternate back and forth and then do 2 tosses plus a trio toss from the other point at Alt 41. The break point is here somewhere. By the time they get to Henderson, they should know exactly how to get home.

Friday, July 24, 2009

No smash - just a bit late

Whew! Scary! I don't know where they went but they got lost a bit. They found their way back within the hour and trapped in pretty quickly. They had been doing a lot of goofing off and grazing. I think the cats might've helped with that situation! I'll bet that's where the two broken legs came from. I have the cats put up in the garage. I think I'll keep it that way for the rest of the season: put up cats when flying. What a pain!

Twelve miles - Smash?

Uh oh. 40 minutes later and they are not home from 12 miles! I had a clear view of the north and the west - they headed east and, as far as I can tell, never headed back again. I let them settle 10 minutes. They took off in the wrong direction without circling like they knew where they were going. Ug! I am really kicking myself for moving the 3rd drop 2 miles east (to get it more across from Henderson, which I think is their break point).

Thursday, July 23, 2009

4th drop from 6 miles

I like this drop point down by the river. It's always so quiet - even when the barges go by. "Trio tossing" them this time. In a big hurry - morning thrown off by another bird with a broken leg. This is worrisome. Never had a YB get a broken leg before. Are the cats playing "catch & release" with them? Put a splint on it and then took the others to the drop. I was in a hurry so two of the tosses combined before starting home. (They tricked me and flew behind the trees and waited for the others). It is supposed to rain 7 of the next 10 days. Not sure when I'll get them out to the 12 mile drop.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Another 6 Mile Toss

Again, I did not basket them at night. I like to let them sleep in their comfort zone as much as possible. So, I awake to the dread of loading young birds in the daylight. HOWEVER, today, they were pretty much used to it. All were calmer and 3/4ths just held still and let me pick them up. I pet them and talk to each one when I pick it up and I don't basket them until they quit squirming. They are getting fairly tame. Tomorrow I have to decide if I want to trio toss from 6 miles or just jump up to 12 miles.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Jumped up to 6 miles

2.5 miles was really nothing for them. As it turns out, neither was 6. I took them to the edge of the river and turned them loose. They beat me home and all but two had already trapped when I pulled up. Of course, one of them was Dopey! Now I know - he wasn't being stubborn - he just didn't know how to trap. I have him a good 90 minutes. He crawled all over looking for a way in. Never occurred to him to follow the first 18 through the trap?

I also had been wondering why the pied blue check was laying down so much. She was laying down when I released her. I was worried she was sick, then I noticed her hobbling. I caught her - she is definitely NOT SICK. She put up a powerful struggle. She has a badly fractured leg. I ordered a cast, gave her some children's liquid Tylenol (for the swelling mainly) and put her in sickbay. She has been like this a while. She's worn off the feathers on her belly and has worn spots on her knees. If the cast comes (2nd day air) I might be able to train her out with the late hatches next month.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Rainy, foggy morning - no training

It was very overcast, a little misty and somewhat foggy so I held off. It was only their 2nd drop - no need to get in a rush. Turned out beautiful later and all day. Lots of loft flying - they loved the extra wind and played a lot. Just boxed them up for an early morning toss. (Well, I hope I get up early anyway).

Thursday, July 16, 2009

3rd Least Favorite Task Complete

All 22 young birds are now vaccinated against PMV-1. Man I hate doing that. It's right up there with cleaning the loft. I meant to do it Tuesday night, rest them Wednesday and train today so I'm off a day. Still, should have them out 6 miles by Monday morning.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Big Jump; 800 feet to 2.5 miles

I overslept and didn't box up last night. I still managed to coax the birds out of the aviary, catch & box them this morning in time for a 2.5 mile drop. They looked good! They went straight home with no problems.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Lots of red and white - but no blue!

This one and another are nearly solid white - or look like it in flight. My neighbors have even commented on how pretty the flock looks circling the house this year.
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2nd bird of the year

This one is REALLY painful! Unbanded again!! Off to a terrible start. The first round of eggs were either infertile or just didn't make it. We had some long, unusual cold snaps. Plus, I used clay nest bowls this year. Mistake, I think. The entire first round was lost! Most of the 2nd round went badly too. This one was a survivor of the 2nd round but by the time it came to band him, I had misplaced my 2009 bands - hadn't used them in so long! This time, I thought, I will put a 2008 band on it in case I cannot find the other bands until it is too late. Good thing! Another B team member.
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Another unbanded!

The first bird of the year! Or, the last bird of 2008. I tried to band him on January 1st. He was 10 days old. I am still kicking myself for not AT LEAST putting a 2008 band on him - could've flown him in old birds anyway! Absolutely beautiful bird! Until this last moult, he was perfectly silver all over. Now he has VERY faint red bars. I hope I get some more like him next year!
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Indigo bar

Okay, I was more impressed with this than anyone else. Just a weird looking color. Blue bar body with red bars. Levi's The Pigeon calls this an Indigo Bar. We had gotten in a habit of calling it "Chocolate", short for Chocolate Bar.
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Okay, I let a few blue bars go

Okay, I let a few blue bars and blue check on the team. You had to have some white splashes, white tips, pie, etc.
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Black Eagles

I have three pretty Black Eagle descendants. I like these because they were the only birds to make it back on the first day from the "big smash" last year. Plus, they're really pretty! (and not blue bars!)
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