Thursday, June 30, 2011


Up, up and away: Time after time, logic-defying flights bring pigeons, the thoroughbreds of the sky, safely back home

s Jim Keng stood sentry, scanning the skies from his patio in La Porte, he had a healthy hunch that Miss Elite would be the first bird home. Sure enough, the petite, 1-pound pigeon made a final circle above Keng’s backyard, swooped smoothly onto the stoop, and walked calmly back into a pigeon loft.

Miss Elite had just wrapped up a mind-boggling feat: She flew 10 hours straight, at 50 mph, from 500 miles away in Hoxie, Arkansas. With her uncanny internal GPS and single-minded determination, she made a beeline for one tiny speck in a semirural neighborhood just east of Houston.

Every time Miss Elite arrives home from the long-distance races she’s aced to earn elite-flier status, “she still looks like a million bucks,” says Keng, an affable general contractor who’s president of the Texas Center of Racing Pigeon Clubs.

For Keng and the other 400 or so pigeon racers in Texas, moments like Miss Elite’s quiet triumph are unforgettable. It’s the payoff for pampering the pigeons from egg to birth and beyond, patiently training them day after day to carry out their ancestral mission of flying home—fast. For many owners of these so-called thoroughbreds of the sky, it’s all part of a thrilling high-stakes sport that pits top fliers for lucrative purses at races like the annual Texas Showdown and Texas Gusher, two of the state’s top pigeon competitions.

For the rest of us, it’s an astounding reminder of the abilities of pigeons to perform jaw-dropping feats while carrying on one of the world’s oldest methods of communication.

entire article: Texas Co-op Power Magazine