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!