Racing pigeons more accurately described as racing doves are, in fact, one of man’s oldest feathered companions. Pigeons date to antiquity! Far from being a lowly servant, the racing pigeon was the special prerogative of kings, princes, and nobles of all kinds.
During these past times it was contrary to law for a common man to own pigeons. The great empires of Carthage, Egypt, and Rome made full use of them in many ways including the production of squabs (a great delicacy) as well as high-grade nitrogen (droppings) for their fields. The aforementioned civilizations also used pigeons in a great network of advanced communication.
They kept emperors in touch with the most remote areas of their lands during a time when horse and riders or caravans would have taken weeks to deliver the same information.
Today, as in the past, speed and endurance and the ability of our racing pigeons to orient quickly are the key to success. Pigeon
fanciers today are as enthralled with this exceptional bundle of courage, speed, endurance, and intelligence as were the originators of those couriers countless centuries ago.
Racing Season usually begins at the end of May, this is where we start the Young Bird races. Only birds hatched in the previous and current calendar year are eligible to fly. Older birds fly in the Old Bird races.
Birds are selected for the race based on health and fitness of the bird, you can normally tell by handling a pigeon if they are ready to go to the race. Selected birds are taken to the clubhouse so as to be entered into the race. Once all birds are countermarked they are ready to start their trip to the release point. The crates are loaded onto a special trailer and the journey begins. Along the route there are some stops where more birds are collected. Some races will contain upwards of 4,000 pigeons.
The birds are taken to a specific location, weather is checked along the race course and if everything is a go, they are released to start the trip back home where the owner anxiously waits. Surveys have been done and the distance from the release point to the loft down to the yards is known. When the doors to the crates drop open, these amazing little creatures burst out with the energy and a drive to get back home that we can only try to imagine. They have one thing on their minds and that is to get back to their mate or perch.
Why do pigeons home?
This is a much-asked question and we do not know for certain. The most likely theory put forward by scientists is that the pigeons use some form of magnetic compass although there is also evidence that they use the sun as a compass and also geographical recognition.
When a pigeon is six days old a metal registration ring is placed on its leg and thereafter the pigeon is known by the number of its ring. A typical ring number is WRRPA 15 ZA 12345 where ZA indicates a ring issued by the SANPO. 15 – The year of birth of the pigeon and A 12345 – the registration number. If you should find a tired or injured pigeon will you kindly take full note of its ring details and report them to the Club Secretary of the WRRPA at the number on the ring or the stamp on the wing.
Story of the Club
Noordheuwel Pigeon Club, is a proud club – which has produced many champions. NDK belongs to the West Rand Racing Pigeon Federation (WRRPA) where there are approximately 8 clubs in the Union, which goes all the way to Fochville and includes Wesonaria and Carltonville and Randfontein.
For more information & persons interested in receiving coaching can contact;
Chairperson of the Club: John van den Bos 082 897 8757