The magic stick and something more
The shelf, the "magic stick" and sweets.
What is more annoying than pigeons that are scared? Maybe pigeons that do not trap after a race.
I hate pigeons that are scared and that try to escape whenever the fanciers wants to grab them. And I hate pigeons that arrive early from a race but do not trap.
Believe me, birds that do not trap are able to spoil my weekend.
Since I do not want my mood to be spoiled by pigeons I see to it that such things do not happen to me. I see to it that I have tame birds that behave like I want them to behave.
They (mostly!) trap so fast that I advise fellow fanciers to try and breed pigeons that are faster than mine. "As fast as" is not good enough because most probably my birds win time when arriving from the races.
WHO ARE TO BLAME
The complaints I hear again and again inspired me to write this article. The complaints are from fanciers who envy their fellow sportsmen because those have tame and disciplined pigeons. Why are they so unlucky as to have birds that are opposite, they moan? Birds that are far from tame and disciplined?
The truth is that they have to blame themselves.
I admit, there are pigeons that are scared by nature, but VERY FEW.
It is the handler who made his birds scary. Such people do not know how to get along with live stock. They have "no pigeon in their heart" as they say in Holland.
Charles van Lancker
Some fanciers use a stick to teach their pigeons manners. The late Klak was one of them. He was also one of the very few that raced natural, so on the nest. And we all know such pigeons do not train spontaneously.
No problem for Klak though. When it was "training time" he went into the loft, he tapped on the floor with a stick and all the birds flew from their eggs or little babies
to train for 45 minutes.
My eyes were popping out the first time I saw it.
To make the 45 "training minutes full" he used a flag. As soon as he got it down his birds went into the loft like hell.
Others also have a stick, but for other reasons.
Fanciers that only race hens for example. All day long these hens are locked up in their cells. In the past I also raced hens only. I also locked them up, but I had to grab every single pigeon for that.
That meant a lot of work, but what was worse, I frightened the birds. They did not want to be caught and after some time my hands were their biggest enemy.
What those fanciers do is tap on the floor with a stick, then all the birds fly directly to their cells so that the fancier can lock them up behind a barred door.
What both Klak and these fanciers have in common is that they do not want their pigeons to fear their hands. Meanwhile they save time, work and a headache.
Such birds is fun
I also have a stick in the loft. I use it to slowly move the birds from one compartment to the other. My point is also that I do not want to scare the birds with my hands.
I am afraid I am not good enough a handler to do like Klak and those fanciers who force them to fly into their boxes with a stick.
Yes I also got birds from Leo Heremans. The first one (04-124) that I got (for free) was real good. Later I bought some very expensive ones, off "Power" and stuff but I got rid of them. Anyway, fanciers who saw those birds were surprised how tame they were. And it was the breeder, Leo Heremans, who was responsible for it.
You know how he got them like that?
In his breeding loft, at a height of about one meter, is a shelf and when the babies are about 16 days old he puts them on that shelf, together with the nest bowl.
Now all birds feed all the youngsters.
And every time that he enters the loft he caringly strokes those babies and talks to them. You should compare this with babies that grew up in a dark corner where they never saw humans. See how afraid these birds are.
A bit exaggerated
How come my birds trap so fast you may wonder?
That is a matter of conditioning. Like racing pigeons successfully is mainly a matter of conditioning as well.
What I do is make a mixture of grit plus some stuff that pigeons are fond of, such as peanuts and sweets. When the birds come home from a race they find that on the landing board and they know it is there.
You must know that in the racing season my pigeons train with closed windows.
When it is time for them to land I put the mixture of grit, peanuts and little seeds on the landing board and open the window to let them in. Of course they also find it on the board when they come back from a toss.
Pigeons must feel comfortable in the loft.
Verkerk always claims that the cosy atmosphere in his loft is his secret.
To accomplish such a nice climate it stands to reason that you should move slowly inside the loft. As if in slow motion. When I am in a hurry or when I am nervous I try to stay away from the loft, because I know myself. When I want to grab a bird and I fail I do not give up and the second try will be much rougher than the first one.
It also helps to make some sound, whatever that is, and wear the same clothes always. Pigeons should never be afraid. The boss should be a welcome guest always.
I mentioned sweets. I always have some in a pocket of my dust coat.
When I stretch out my hand to a perch or nestbox, the birds know what this means; sweets. And they "cheerfully" fly to my outstretched hand. When some(!) other fanciers do exactly the same (stretch out their hands) the birds hurry off as fast as they can.
Especially at short distance trapping well is of vital importance. In races from the popular release
station Quievrain every second literally matters.
Boeckx is a very successful "Quievrain racer". What he finds very important to get tame birds is clean the lofts with the pigeons inside.
Charel and Daniel Boeckx. You should clean the lofts with the pigeons inside.
Pigeon racing is so much more fun when you have tame disciplined birds.
The fancier should be a kind of general, the pigeons like soldiers that are obedient and do whatever the boss wants them to do.
In case they are not disciplined the pigeons are not to blame but the fancier.
He did not treat his birds with respect.
A fancier that handles a pigeon and then just let it drop from his hands onto the floor has no respect either. When somebody would do so with a bird of mine I would not hand him over a second one. He does not realise how hard it is for a bird to land on its feet. What he should so is carefully put the bird on its perch or in its box
Some patience may be needed to get tame birds, but you will get back much in return. You did a real good job when you can grab each bird with one hand only.
Like Adriaan Janssens, the best handler of the brothers, in the old days.
Henri van Doorn is one of the best young bird racers in Holland. Also he finds the atmosphere inside the
loft very important. Therefore he has the seats for the birds in a kind of L.