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

Wednesday, June 29, 2011


AU member, Chuck Myles, gave us this wonderful look into the past.  He shared information and photographs of a vintage motorcycle + pigeon carrier used in World War I.  An article published in the American Iron Magazine in December 2005 provided background on this historically significant machine.

This 1917 Harley Davidson with pigeon carrier is reported to be the only one in existence, and housed at the Wheels Through Time Museum in Maggie Valley, North Carolina.

According to the museum, vintage bikes housed there are started and driven daily.  This one is no exception.

Apparently Steve McQueen, at one time, obtained the bike from one of the movie studios.  The gentlemen that owned the bike had all the documentation, including McQueen's auction paperwork.

The left side of the tank was the original 1917 olive drab military paint and decal work.  The right side of the tank was repainted and marked with what appears to be WWII detail.  It is supposed that the marking allowed for "double duty" of the bike in WWI and WWII movies, depending on which side of the bike faced the cameras.  The bike had a few brackets that were at first unidentifiable.  A few years later at a motorcycle meet, it was discovered that a rare messenger pigeon carrier was available.  It is the only Cygnet (Cygnet Car Carrier Company) pigeon carrier known to exist.  When matched up with the motorcycle, they were found to be a perfect match.  It seems the bike and carrier were actually a unit that had become separated over time.

For pigeon fanciers and wartime history buffs, this is a must see if you are ever in that area of North Carolina.