Why do they say Belgians stupid?
If you study the ancestors of my pigeons you will soon come across Belgian
rings. Because Belgian pigeons are better? I don't know. I feel at home in
Belgium and feel comfortable with the people and I live in a village where the
Dutch and Belgians live amicably together.
There was a time when that was very different, especially regarding football
games. Then the adrenalin flowed through the veins and narrowed the minds.
We looked behind every tree for supposed enemies and the Belgians and
Dutch appeared fiercer then they really are. The 'butterflies' in the stomach
always appeared before a match and could be noticed from some distance.
Astonishing too how Belgians in the past managed to find colourful African
footballers with colourful names. Prince Polly and Amokachi in particular.
Amokachi didn't celebrate his goals as provocatively as Milla did in his time.
He didn't indulge in a wild mating dance at the corner flag, but kept it more
civilized. The stocky centre forward stiffened after a goal, jiggled his loins and
turned his body in the most impossible positions. The Dutch overpaid
adolescents of the present day only raise one hand after they have scored.
The emotional gap between the modest Belgian and his arrogant northern
neighbour may have lessened, but the Dutch pigeon sport is as different from
the Belgian pigeon sport as African footballers are from Belgian players. The
Dutch are more driven and will do anything to win a simple cup while Belgians
aim for National Aces and even more for Olympiad pigeons because that
pays well. And sometimes they are surprisingly inventive.
Like the fancier with a candidate for an Olympiad pigeon a few years ago. He
basketed his pigeon in a club where the competition was less, the bird won
a glorious first against a lot of pigeons but in his own village club he would
have become third against less pigeons, which would have given him less
points. More or less the same thing once happened with a 'National Ace'.
Besides having a good pigeon the owner had a good friend also, who raced
long-distance with a large number of pigeons.
What did HE do? He basketed in a club where there were not many pigeons
and he brought along the mass of pigeons from his friend the long-distance
racer. Thus a competition of scarcely 30 pigeons artificially became a
competition of 100 pigeons or more.
With that he killed two birds with one stone. Instead of racing against a few
dozen pigeons he was now able to race against the required minimum and
... he only clocked his 'good one', his friend didn't clock at all with the result
that the 'good one' had to be the one to fly in the lead.
The pigeon sport has declined so much that it has become a problem for
many clubs to get 100 pigeons together for a race. Many Belgian fanciers
make sure of the weather first before they decide where to basket their birds.
In Antwerp it is also a well known secret that some champions avoid racing
each other. If one champion goes somewhere to basket his pigeons, another
will go somewhere else so that they can both win.
I mentioned 100 pigeons in a competition. That's not much is it? I have seen
results with 12 pigeons in competition and even ... believe it or not, with 2.
That was in a pigeon paper that also reported that someone had won the first
3 prizes in a race with 5 pigeons competing.
And I saw a result of the Union Antwerp 'the University of International pigeon
sport' with barely 50 pigeons in the race. There was a time when I believed
that people who claimed to have pigeons winning 30 or more first prizes
were imposters. Maybe I was wrong.
Orientation is what matters. Speed pigeons do this well and quickly.
COLI ONCE AGAIN
In Belgium you have pigeon factories, fanciers who breed hundreds of
youngsters each year. They are housed in different lofts of course and that
led to interesting information about Adeno/Coli. They found that there was
less Coli in lofts that were not darkened, noticed that summer youngsters in
aviaries were less susceptible to Coli, and that the same applied to pigeons
in lofts that were rarely cleaned.
In Holland there are no races when the weather is very hot, in Belgium they
don't mind that. I think that the Dutch are wrong. Twice I have seen races
cancelled in Holland because of the heat while in Belgium the races went
ahead and ... the races were particularly quick, even Bourges with two nights
in the basket. Was our former chairman right after all when he said that two
nights in the basket would reduce the losses during warm weather because
the pigeons will drink?
I remember races from Dourdan in very warm weather. Our pigeons had to
stay in the basket for two nights, and the birds of our Belgian fellow sportsmen
one night (how jealous we were). And contrary to expectations, our pigeons
returned less tired. In that respect you have to have a bit of luck. If the first
young bird race with two nights in the basket is flown in warm weather that
will often lead to problems because of no acclimatization and not drinking.
The reason I prefer to buy pigeons in Belgium has also to do with Grondelaers.
He always advised to buy speed pigeons when you want to strengthen your
team, and for speed pigeons you have to look in Belgium. Not only are there
more speed specialists in Belgium, there is also something else.
In the Netherlands there are many group releases, which make pigeons stay
together for longer and that leads to 'followers' and 'hangers on'. You will see
these in the south of the Netherlands on racing days, when enormous groups
of pigeons fly over. This should only be so if those pigeons come from one
loft or from lofts that are in the same neighbourhood. That is not the case and
the conclusion is obvious; most pigeons are flying in the wrong direction
because they just follow the rest.
How different it is with country wide or mass releases. Immediately after being
released they separate and, quite different from the 'followers' in the above
mentioned swarms, they make their decisions quickly for the best route
And pigeons that make quick decisions, those are the ones we want.