Friday, August 27, 2010


Special to Red Bluff Daily News
August 27, 2010

Young bird races have started for members of the Red Bluff Pigeon Club.

The first young bird race for the Red Bluff Pigeon Club began on Saturday, Aug. 14, where Ben Crain of Los Molinos took first place in the junior division.

His blue bar hen AU 2010 POP 371, flew 134.7 miles at a speed of 47.5 miles per hour against 368 club pigeons from the California and Oregon border.

On Saturday, Aug. 21, Ben took first place again with the same blue bar hen POP 371 flying from south of Klamath Falls, Ore. Flying against 295 pigeons she flew 135 miles at a speed of 42 miles per hour against a south wind of 10-15 mph.

Ben . . .  has been flying with the Club for seven years. The last two years he has taken several first place positions with his birds. He placed 215th in the nation out of 2,500 participants on the American Racing Pigeon Union database.

We will be flying 10 total races this year so look forward to hearing about a junior winner each week.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


August 25, 2010

Local residents raise, race pigeons
By Tim Mandell
Register News Writer
Photography Nancy Taggert

RICHMOND — A pair of Richmond residents have formed a unique partnership.

Former co-workers John Hayes and Robbie Robbins spend their free time raising and racing pigeons.

Hayes retired three years ago from his job as custodial foreman at Eastern Kentucky University. Robbins works at EKU as an operator at the heat plant.

While working together, they discovered they shared a love of pigeons, each having been raised around the birds.

Since retiring, Hayes has constructed five pigeon lofts on his property and Hayes and Robbins own roughly 300 racing pigeons.

One of those pigeons, Lucky Seven, flew earlier this month from Orlando, Fla., to Kentucky, covering more than 700 miles in two days.

That feat is a Kentucky long-distance flying record, Robbins said.

Most of their pigeons were bred around Thanksgiving and were born at the beginning of this year.

Once the pigeons were comfortable with their surroundings, Hayes and Robbins began teaching them to race.

“We let them fly around here for a while, just to let them get used to the place,” Hayes said. “You just have to be patient with them.”

When the pigeons were ready to race, the first toss was done a quarter-mile from the lofts.

After that, they released the birds five miles away, then 10 miles, then 20 miles, and finally, 100 miles away.

Pigeons fly about 45 miles per hour and have been known to reach 110 miles per hour with the right tail wind, Robbins said.

“They’re the only other animal in the world that recognizes themselves,” Robbins said. “They have about all the same traits that humans have.”

Robbins, who often writes pigeon fiction for the magazine “Racing Pigeon Digest,” is like an encyclopedia of the history of pigeons.

He rattles off stories of pigeon heroics from World War I and World War II and knows the names of well-known pigeons and their breeders and racers.

Hayes spends most of his time in his backyard with the pigeons, where he has formed a strong bond with the birds.

“I’m out here all the time,” Hayes said. “I do some yard mowing on the side, but when I get done, I come out here and watch them fly around.”

They have loaned their pigeons to be used at athletic events, weddings and even funerals.

At funerals, four pigeons are released, representing the Father, the Son, the Holy Ghost and the soul, said Robbins.

They search for perfect matches for breeding and isolate those pigeons in cages.

Typically, the female lays two eggs, which take 18 days to hatch. Once the babies are a few weeks old, Hayes and Robbins place a bond on their leg signifying the year of their birth, the national and local groups they belong to and a serial number that identifies Hayes and Robbins as the owners.

Inside the lofts, there are cubby holes. Each bird usually claims one cubby hole as their own, Hayes said.

When the birds are let out to fly, they often form a routing pattern and may spend hours flying around before returning to the lofts, Hayes said.

What Hayes and Robbins seem to most enjoy is racing the pigeons.

Pigeon races are conducted quite frequently and the cash prizes sometimes reach five figures, Robbins said.

Hayes and Robbins are currently training their pigeons for upcoming races.

Typically, these races may pit teams against each other, with the fastest pigeon to return to its roost declared the winner, Robbins said.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

by Mark Lawton
(Suzanne Tennant/Staff Photographer)
August 19, 2010

Adam Hajduga grabs a pigeon from the coop he's built in the garage behind his Franklin Park house. The pigeon is quiet though Hajduga, 33, turns it every which way while showing off a band around one leg that contains an electronic chip.

When the pigeons return to the coop from a race, the chip notifies a computer. Race organizers then pull out their calculators and divide distance by time traveled to figure which pigeon flew home the fastest.

From 6 to 7 a.m. several days a week, he trains his pigeons before he heads out to that day's work as a general contractor.

His grandfather in Poland raised pigeons, as did his father. Every Saturday during the summer season, Hajduga ships his pigeons along with a truck full of others to a location anywhere from 100 to 500 miles west.
Pigeon racing is an activity with a single starting gate and 1,000 finishing lines. For unknown reasons pigeons recognize where they were bred and fly back there.

Pigeon racing may go as far back as the second century. In contemporary times it dates back to the mid-1800s in Belgium. Such pigeons, Columba livia domestica, were used to carry messages in the first and second world wars and by Reuter's news service in its early years.

The sport remains more popular in Europe, where as many as 75,000 pigeons may compete in a single race. Still, there are about 250 pigeon racers in the Chicago area who belong to the American Pigeon Racing Union, one of three pigeon organizations in the area.

In Franklin Park there are four or five pigeon breeders and racers. The sport was temporarily outlawed in the village during the previous administration, though the Pedersen administration reversed that in 2009.

While racing pigeons are the same breed as pigeons that eat bread crumbs off sidewalks, they are still very different, said Dan Andronic, a Franklin Park resident and owner of Belmont Breed & Seed, a pigeon store in Chicago.

"It's a stray dog and a pet dog," Andronic said. "A lot of people go, 'Oh no, they are going to poop all over my house and car.' They don't do that. Most pigeon fliers are very disciplined people. They clean their coops twice a day."

Andronic's father raised pigeons in Romania, but Andronic didn't get interested in racing until 1999 when a friend in Glenview asked if he wanted a couple. Up until that time Andronic had raised rabbits.

"It's just a weird sport and you fall in love with it," Andronic said. "When your bird beats 2,000 other birds, you're jumping for joy."

Training racing pigeons takes a lot of effort. When his son was 17, Andronic had him out at 4 a.m. several mornings a week, driving the pigeons an hour away then releasing them.

"They call it a second wife, a pigeon," Andronic said. "If not training, you're in the coop cleaning, medicating them, watching them."

Homing pigeons are usually bred toward the beginning of the year. A hen and a cock are put together and have two eggs. Incidentally, there are no divorces among pigeons, which mate for life.

Pigeons will work cheap, racing for water and food. For those who prefer purchasing to breeding, pigeons sell for as little as $50 and as much as $150,000 in the U.S. and more in Europe.

Like Olympic athletes, different birds do better at different distances. There are sprinters, marathoners and those somewhere in between. Pigeons can fly as fast as 75 mph.

Monday, August 2, 2010


Monday, August 2nd marks the 100 year anniversary that:

In Washington D.C., Mr. D.C. Buscall of Maryland outlined the value of a new national organization and presented samples of the "new and beautiful band, of exquisite workmanship and original design which is to adopted as the national marking ring for the American fancy, and thereby reduce to one uniform band the many mixed and indifferent types now used". After the many good points of the new Union were clearly explained and discussed a motion by Mr. W. F. Dismer of Washington D.C., seconded by W.F. Sarton, that the American Racing Pigeon Union be formally organized was unanimously carried by those in attendance. It was further explained that no further action beyond appointing a committee to take care of the preliminary organization would done at that time.

Taken from The Homing Exchange, the next formal meeting would occur in December 1910.