Are you passionate about birds? Would you like to have a different and fun hobby? If the answer is “yes”, you are reading the most suitable article. Today, in our blog we talk about an activity that hooks thousands of people around the world: training racing pigeons.
The extraordinary sense of direction of the homing pigeon
If you read in our first article about racing pigeons, you will already know that we are talking about a very special type of pigeon and different from those we are used to seeing in the parks of our city. The main characteristic that distinguishes a homing pigeon or Wild Pigeon is its extraordinary sense of orientation and, also, its strength and resistance to fly for hours and travel hundreds of kilometers. A carrier pigeon that is well integrated and adapted to its loft will be able to return home almost naturally. And you wonder … How does he do it? How is a pigeon able to recognize the course and not get lost? There are many theories about it, some of them very curious, for example.
Paloma Bravía (Rock Dove) orients itself thanks to the sunlight. The biological clock of the pigeon is very sensitive, it can tell what time of day it is by the amount of light there is. According to this theory, the pigeon compares the amount and orientation of the light of the place where it is with that which should be in its loft at that moment and, thus, locates the correct path.
The homing pigeon is extremely sensitive to terrestrial magnetism and in its right eye, it has a kind of compass that indicates the correct course.
Training your Carrier Pigeon
In the environment of pigeon racing, it is often said that there are as many methods of training a pigeon as there are amateurs. It happens the same as in dog training: There are different theories but each fan uses the methods that work for him or her. Furthermore, the training methods are not usually rigid and the personality of each pigeon is also an important factor that must be taken into account. Let’s look at some common tips applicable to any type of training:
1. Start Early
Most breeders prefer to start training their pigeons when they are young. The age of onset can vary a little but will range between 25-30 days. During this period, it is highly recommended that the youngsters occupy their own loft and that they be in groups of more or less the same age. This way they will not be “overwhelmed” by the adult pigeons of the family. Another important point of this stage is to bale the pigeon, that is to say: cause it to fly through the loft every day. It is also very advisable to talk to him and whistle when we put food on him. In this way, he will get to know us and get used to our call.
2. Trust the Pigeon
A few days after placing him in his new loft, the young pigeon will be ready to start traveling short distances. His wings will have gained strength and they will now be able to leave the loft and start walking a few meters on their own. It is a period in which, no matter how much it costs us, we must trust our pet and think that she will whistle again. One tip: let the pigeon out before feeding it. That way he will have an appetite and will go to his feeder on the first call.
3. Educate Your Sense of Direction
When the chick is around three months old, it is time to take another step in their education and begin to work on their sense of orientation. As we said at the beginning, these birds are very well oriented naturally, but it does not hurt to help them a little.
To begin with, we are going to accustom them to cages or training baskets, small rooms where we will move them to another point so that, from there, they return on their own to the loft. This phase is very stressful for the little pigeons so you have to go very slowly: the first day we will introduce them a few minutes, the second day a little more … After a few days we will start with the training pure and hard: We will move to a near point, we will open the basket and… to fly home. An important tip in this delicate phase is to always try to work on sunny days, without rain, strong wind, or fog that makes the test more difficult for our young pet.
As you can see, training a carrier pigeon is relatively simple. It only requires two things: time and patience. Do you want to try?