Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Homing Pigeons 101 - Comparison of Racing Pigeons With Other Birds

Many local governmental officials mistakenly believe that registered racing pigeons are the same birds as the wild pigeons which overpopulate town squares, public buildings and parks; they are not.  In fact, registered racing pigeons are kept and revered like birds of all kinds, such as parakeets, parrots, cockatiels, macaws, doves, hawks and falcons.

Registered racing pigeons are admired by fanciers for their superb athleticism, determination, and loyalty to their home lofts and owners.  Because they race home from distances up to 600 miles in a day, racing pigeons must be in perfect health, well fed and cared for daily.

Registered racing pigeon fanciers are expected to meet higher standards than those set for the maintenance and care of other birds.  The registered racing pigeon is an athlete.  Racing pigeons compare favorably with all other birds kept by the American public.  Considering cage birds and bids of prey (hawks and falcons) kept for falconry and propagation, racing pigeons meet and exceed most of the same legal and general maintenance requirements.

1.  Registered racing pigeons are banded as very young birds to permanently register them and mark them for record keeping and racing purposes, as are cage and falconry birds.

2.  Racing pigeon fanciers follow strict medical regimens to ensure health and to prevent disease.  Falconers and other bird fanciers attempt to emulate racing pigeon fanciers' standards for health excellence.  Presently there are a number of veterinarians in the U.S. whose singular specialty is racing pigeon medical treatment.

3.  Falconry birds are maintained in housing based on standards set by federal and state law and regulation.  Cage birds are normally housed indoors, except for certain kinds of doves and fancy show pigeons which, like racing pigeons, are kept outside.  Virtually all racing pigeon lofts are built to standards equal to those for falconry and cage birds.  The AU has set minimum standards for lofts and their construction and maintaining birds' facilities.

4.  The United States Post Office recognizes the importance of racing pigeons by providing optimum standards for shipment in special boxes and under humane conditions.  Cage and falconry birds are not even accepted by the Postal Service for shipment.

5.  Most airlines will accept equally racing pigeons, cage birds, and falconry birds.  The International Air Transport Association sets specific airline standards for the shipment of each kind of bird.  Like the others, racing pigeons must be shipped by air in specially designed containers.  In cases of international air shipment, all birds must be accompanied by a veterinarian's health certificate. 

6.  When racing pigeons are imported from Europe or other countries of origin, like falcons, hawks and cage birds, they are held in quarantine.  The United States Department of Agriculture officials require a health quarantine of imported birds to protect native species of wild birds and birds kept by people.  Special sections for racing pigeons exist at the USDA quarantine facilities.  The quarantine period for pigeons is presently thirty days.

Since racing pigeons, fancy show pigeons, cage birds of all types, and falconry birds have been kept for centuries, national officials in the United States and in almost every nation in the world recognize their importance to culture, history, education, companionship and recreation.  Consequently, these officials do not distinguish among the birds as to type or use.  Standards are set to assure that all birds are treated humanely.  Means are provided to put all of the birds in commerce through national and international shipment.

Registered racing pigeons and their handlers take their appropriate and rightful place next to the other Americans who keep birds for companionship and recreation.  Prohibitions against keeping and racing pigeons are no more justified than they are for denying the keeping of beautiful parrots and macaws.  When racing pigeon fanciers are denied their right to keep and to fly their birds in a reasonable manner, while their neighbors may keep cage birds, there arises an element of bias and discrimination.  This is not justified, and most public officials recognize this when they understand the needs of racing pigeon fanciers.