I know this website is totally dedicated to my HolyLamb Kennel and my Bedlington Terriers, but I decided to make this one page especially for my Fancy Pigeons, that still have a place in my heart. I have always had dogs ever since I was a kid, but as a kid, I generally loved all animals as well, and over the years I have had rabbits, guinea pigs, donkeys, chickens, cats, dogs, budgies, fish and Fancy Pigeons. Even when I was still at school, I became a member of the Israeli Fancy Pigeon Club, and in those years, I bred English Nuns and Turbits. I loved these pigeons, especially the Turbits, but unfortunately did not have much success in breeding them, many died, and at some stage after school, I had to sell my remaining few pigeons.
Many years later, I began breeding Show Pigeons again, and rejoined the Israeli Fancy Pigeon Club. My new pigeons were Satinettes and White Old Dutch Capuchines, both types were imported from German and Dutch lines. I also started breeding Show Budgerigars and joined their club as well. I used to show many of my birds at the annual shows. Unfortunately, often, we had thefts and many of my Pigeons and Show Budgerigars were stolen. I continued for a while, but in 2003, when I got my first two Bedlington Terriers from Sweden, I started dedicating most my time and love to my dogs. I still bred my birds, but I did not have that much time for them, and after every theft, it made me realise that I should stop breeding the birds.
So, I decided to stop breeding my Show Budgerigars and I gave them to Meir Krut from Tzipori. As for my pigeons, I continued breeding them, the few I had left, and moved my Pigeon Loft right outside our house. Before then, it was quite far away, and I realised, if I was to continue breeding Pigeons, I could not afford to have them stolen every year.
These days, I still have White Old Dutch Capuchines, Dutch Highfliers (Nederlandse Hoogvlieger) and Satinettes. The Satinettes are a breed with a short beak, and I have not had too much success in breeding them, but these are beautiful pigeons and my favourite breed, so I am not giving up, and hopefully, will have a better year this year in breeding them.
What's So Special about Pigeons?
Many people would say, why would anyone want pigeons?, they are dumb, they poop on peoples heads, they smell. Many people don't know the beauty of Pigeons and why they are so special. I hope the following paragraphs will change many peoples thoughts, just a bit, about pigeons.
Well, pigeons come in so many different colours and feather patterns. You can find some with a shiny, rainbow-like neck feathers, or with red feet. The pigeons are special because there is such variety in the way they look. Take for example birds like robins, they all look very much alike, and so do cardinals and blue jays. But in a flock of pigeons, you will find white ones, grey ones, pigeons with blue-grey feathers, and pigeons with red feathers, pigeons with black feathers, and others with yellow feathers. You will see solid-coloured pigeons and speckled pigeons. If one looks at the pigeons long enough, it is even possible to tell them apart, give them names and get to know their habits.
Pigeons are so special because they can fly very fast. Some can even fly 50 miles per hour. Pigeons have very strong "homing instincts" that help them find their way back to their loft from far away. Nobody knows for sure how pigeons are able to find their way back home from hundreds of miles away. Scientists think that pigeons can detect the Earth's magnetic fields. This means that their brains work like a compass to figure out North, South, East and West. Scientists also think that pigeons can tell direction by looking at the position of the sun in the sky. They do make great pets as well. Many people build little houses called "coops" for pigeons in their backyards or on rooftops. They let their pet pigeons fly free because, unlike canaries or parrots, pigeons will come back home.
Another special thing about pigeons, is the fact that bird scientists actually know less about city pigeons than they do about many other wild birds. It is surprising that such a common bird is such a mystery. But because they are everywhere, scientists seem to have overlooked them. Only recently did many scientists realise how interesting pigeons are. They had many questions like why they come in so many colours, how pigeons choose their mates, etc. These questions are actually very important since the answers will tell us not only about pigeons, but birds in general and will help them also learn more about wildlife, about our land, and skies and about ourselves as "human animals."
To answer many of these questions, bird scientists have designed a research project called Project Pigeon Watch. People from all around the world are involved in it. These participants are called Pigeon Watchers, and they basically collect information on their pigeons in their cities, and send that information to the scientists that enter it into computers, and print out maps that show the information by location, and show how pigeons are alike and different from place to place.
Few More Pigeon Facts.
Mans fascination with pigeons goes back at least 5000 years B.C. Numerous biblical references are made to pigeons and doves. Pigeons have become a symbol of purity and peace, whilst in some religious cultures they are considered sacred.
Over the centuries, and through selective breeding, man has developed over 200 varieties of domesticated pigeons each different in size, colour, shape, character and markings.
Pigeons mate for life with both cock and hen taking turns to incubate the eggs. The cock usually incubates the eggs during the day, whilst the hen incubates them at night. Usually two eggs are laid, and they hatch after 17 to 18 days. Both parents produce a special milk which they feed, beak to beak, to their young during the first week. The baby pigeons are nurtured by their parents until they become independent at about 30 days. Scientists believe that once pigeons mate, they stay together for life.
Pigeons are not fussy eaters. They have only 37 taste buds, while we have 9000. They eat just about anything but a good Pigeons diet consists of mixed grain supplemented by grit and water.
Pigeons suck up water by using their beaks like straws. This is very different from most birds, who take sips of water and then throw their heads back to let the water trickle down their throats.
Fancy Pigeons are kept solely for their looks and appearance and they are judged at shows and exhibitions with this in mind. The Breed Clubs supply Standards of Excellence for each breed of pigeon and the Association maintains a consolidated "book of standards" as a reference work for judges and pigeon breeders alike.
Pigeons come in various shapes and sizes. From bill to tail, the average pigeon is about 13 inches, and weighs a little less than a pound. Males are bigger than females.
Many pigeons have red legs and feet but the colour can range from pink to grey-black. Their claws are usually grey-black. On red or white pigeons, the claws are sometimes white. Some pigeons have feathers that cover their legs and feet.
Pigeons have very good eyes. They can see colours. They can also see ultraviolet light, which human beings cannot see.
Pigeons make lots of different interesting sounds. Have you ever noticed the way pigeons coo and strut? The main sound is used by males to attract mates or to defend their territories: coo roo-c'too-coo. The call they make from their nest sounds something like oh-oo-oor. A pigeon call of alarm is oorhh! Baby pigeons make sounds by snapping their beaks or hissing. After mating, the male pigeons make loud noises by clapping their wings together.
Pigeons have a few enemies such as hawks and other birds of prey, which catch and eat pigeons. In many cities, however, pigeons have no enemies.
Pigeons can fly 40 to 50 miles per hour. Most pigeons stay close to home, flying less than 12 miles a day. However, pigeons have very strong wing muscles, and if necessary, they can fly much further. Some pigeons have traveled 600 miles a day.
In the wild, pigeons can live to about 5 years old. If raised by people, they can live to sometimes over 15 years.
History Of Pigeons
Pigeons have been on this earth at least 20 million years. That is longer than humans! Scientists know this from fossils, which are remains of bones that have been preserved in rock. The original pigeons lived among cliffs and rocky ledges in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Middle East. These pigeons are known as Rock Doves, and they still exist today. All Rock Doves are the same blue-bar colour morphs.
About 5000 to 10000 years ago, humans began to capture and raise pigeons. Some they raised for food, some for racing, and some to carry messages. People also raised them for their beautiful feathers. Over many generations, this is how pigeons acquired such a wide range of colour morphs.
The first pigeons in North America were brought over by people from Europe who settled in Canada in the early 1600s. Pigeons that escaped from settlers formed the wild flocks you see in the cities today. They live among city buildings, bridges, and other man-made structures in the same way their ancestors used to live among cliffs and rocky ledges.
When the first Olympic games were held in Greece in 776 BC, the way people found out who the winners were, was by pigeons who carried the news. Julius Caesar, the emperor of Rome more than 2000 years ago, used birds to send messages back home from battle. Pigeons were used as war messengers as recently as in World War 2. In fact, until the invention of the telegraph in 1836 and the telephone in 1875, the fastest way to send any kind of news was by pigeon.
Pigeons are still sometimes used as messengers. For example, medical workers on an island in France put blood samples into the tiny pockets of a vest worn by a pigeon. The pigeon then flies the blood samples to the mainland. In many parts of the world, news photographers use pigeons. When they can't leave their spot or don't want to get caught in traffic, they attach their rolls of film to a pigeon. The pigeon carries the film to a developer in time for the next issue of a newspaper or magazine.
Pigeons As Rescuers
Because pigeons have better eyesight than humans, they have been used to help in search-and-rescue missions. Pigeons have been trained to spot the orange life jackets of people lost at sea. The pigeons are carried by helicopter over the ocean. When they spot a life jacket, they peck a keyboard, which sets off a light. Then the helicopter moves closer and more slowly over the waves until the humans are able to see the life jacket.
The Story Of Cher Ami
In World War I, a pigeon saved the lives of many soldiers in the "Lost Battalion" of New York's 77th Division of the US Army. This pigeon was named Cher Ami, which means "dear friend" in French.
During a battle in France, the American soldiers found themselves surrounded by the enemy. Then they found themselves being fired on by their own side. They tried sending a message to their fellow troops by pigeon. The first message said: "Many wounded. We cannot evacuate." The pigeon carrying the message was shot down. They sent out a second bird with the message: "Men are suffering. Can support be sent?" That pigeon was shot down too.
One homing pigeon was left-Cher Ami. His message was: "Our artillery is dropping a barrage on us. For heaven's sake, stop it!" The men of the Lost Battalion saw Cher Ami fly up and then saw him shot down. Yet soon Cher Ami was airborne again. Hopes soared. Cher Ami's leg was shot off and he was hit by another bullet. Still, this bird kept flying. Cher Ami finally got through. The shooting stopped, and many lives were saved.
At the end of the war, Cher Ami and more than 40 other pigeons were honoured for their brave service. They were all cared for until they died. Today Cher Ami's body can be seen in Washington, D.C. at the Smithsonian Institution.
*Facts taken from the National Pigeon Association and from Project Pigeon Watch.