June 8th - I have been
letting the birds out in the early afternoon because from my experience most
hawk attacks have occurred in the morning. Of course this would happen
to me. On Tuesday when the youngsters were out on the roof of the loft,
2 hawks circled just above the loft. I yelled and the hawks left.
The youngsters looked a bit concerned but did not leave the roof. On
Wednesday while a few youngsters were still out, what appeared to be a goshawk
zoomed over them and just kept on going in a southerly direction.
The birds were out very early Thursday morning. It was a cloudy
morning with a high ceiling. A group of about 40 birds went up, kitted
and disappeared. An hour later they returned flying very high over the
loft and then they disappeared again. An hour later they came back to
stay. Not all the youngsters trapped immediately and a few stayed out
for the rest of the day. They were let out again late in the afternoon.
A group of 30 went up immediately and disappeared and returned 30 minutes
The next morning I had to make a decision because only about 50
youngsters went up to fly. I had 2 options. First, leave the
status quo be and wait for the rest to be scared up by a hawk and possibly
lose 20 in the panic like has happened in some previous years or scare them up
and possibly lose a couple. I chose the latter. Most of the birds
flew and a few landed on the house and some trees. The loft was full at
the end of the day.
The birds were exercised and Saturday. Once again I encouraged
them to fly. All but 5 went up. On Saturday 80% of the birds
kitted and flew as a group for about 15 minutes. The rest were all over
the place and eventually landed on the roof. A group of 40 youngsters
flew together for well over an hour. Trapping went very smoothly.
Only a couple of birds did not trap in a reasonable time.
Today the youngsters were exercised twice. The second time all but
9 youngsters went up and flew. Except for a handful they flew in a kit
for about 15 minutes. Trapping went exceptionally well. I think
this a good start.
So far 12 youngsters have been sent to sickbay because of being light,
loose and not eating. Eleven were returned to the main group when their
appetites improved and their droppings began to solidify. This does not
mean they have totally recuperated. Hopefully that will continue in the
fanciers that had birds spend time in the sickbay have been notified.
June 9th -
About 95% of the birds were up for 15 minutes this morning. A group of
50 birds disappeared for 90 minutes and returned at 9:30 and continued flying
around the loft. They trapped just before 10:00. All but 4 birds
flew in the afternoon. Only a couple did not join the kit. The
majority flew for close to an hour. The prediction is for rain all day
tomorrow so the birds will be inoculated for PMV and an inventory will be
June 10th - All birds have been vaccinated
and an inventory has been taken.
I took this opportunity to do an assessment of each bird’s condition.
The assessment will be sent to you in the next few days. See Overall
Results for inventory. Birds marked AWOL were lost around the loft.
Only 3 birds are missing. Today one was reported hit by a car about 5
miles from here.
I was very impressed with the general condition of the youngsters. The
vast majority had snowy white wattles, silky feather, clean feet and good
weight. Presently there are no birds in sickbay and none have been
terminated due to sickness but some are still a concern and are being watch
closely. I am afraid some of them will not survive. Only 3 birds
have been lost around the loft.
The assessment of each bird's condition is presented simply with a 2 digit
number. The first number indicates the condition of the bird. The
second number indicates the number of flights dropped. A bird with a
rating of 50 would indicate that the bird is in very good condition but it has
not dropped any flights. Some fanciers might consider not dropping a
flight after being here for a month problematic. I did not take this
into consideration in doing my assessment for this reason. A La Tour Overall
Winner, 04 OAK 4095 did not drop his first flight until just before training
began and he finished the series growing in only his 3rd flight.
The birds were not darkened yet he looked like a darkened bird. He was a
beautiful specimen that did not have a feather out of place and stood out from
the rest of the pack because of his feather condition. In 2 races he
arrived 10 minutes a head of the rest.
5 – These birds are well muscled and have no apparent health issues.
4 – These birds have no health issues but are showing more keel than I prefer.
These birds tend to be the most recent arrivals and as they mature they should
fill out. At this stage, 2 weeks in a pigeon’s life can be a long
time. In a couple of days a “4” can easily become a “5”.
3 – These birds have a health concern. They are definitely underweight and
– These birds are definitely sick, are considerably underweight and candidates
for the sickbay or just out of the sickbay. These are examined daily.
1 – Gone due to sickness.
June 11th - Most birds flew for 30 minutes. Half of them
continued flying and at about the hour mark a third were still up.
June 17th - The birds have been exercising
twice a day. This morning was overcast with a low ceiling and
threatening rain. Yet as group this year, it was the youngsters' strongest
flying session. This afternoon they flew for 30 minutes in a light rain.
All but a dozen birds are beginning to fly for about 90 minutes a day.
As expected the longest exercise period is in the morning.
- Backups will
automatically replace any birds lost prior to the beginning of racing.
If backups are not needed they can be activated for an additional $40 each.
I plan to
start training by the first of July. No sickly birds will be trained.
I believe flying unfit or sickly birds is cruel and does not reflect well on
our sport. So in the next few days I will assess the sickly birds.
Those that have been sickly (mostly the infrequent fliers) will be eliminated.
Sickly birds are a management problem. They can spread disease and they
are the first to stop flying during exercise period and often drag down birds
that would normally fly longer.
This is a
testing station and the sickly birds have failed the first test; that is, they
do not have the natural immunities to compete in one loft futurity races.
Besides, they are very seldom successful and are lost. Often they are
reported found hundreds of miles from home and nowhere near someone that can
easily retrieve them. Most people that report lost birds expect them to
be retrieved. Not being able to do so can be a black eye on our sport.
more than 5 birds left when racing begins will have to decide by the 2nd
Moncton race (182 km) whether to activate them or not for $40.
Otherwise, I will decide whether to keep them on the race team. If an
inactivated bird remains on the race team its record will be kept and if it
should fly successfully and go to the auction the proceeds will not be shared
with the breeder. Inactivated birds that are persistently late during
the racing schedule will be eliminated.
June 18th - For the last 3 days it
has been overcast with heavy fog in the mornings. The prediction is for
similar weather but with more rain for the next week. Yuck!
June 24th - Last
week the birds missed 2 days of exercise because we were shrouded in fog.
Needless say, the dampness was not helpful in keeping the team healthy.
Finally the weather cleared and the birds were back to exercising twice a day.
It’s amazing what a couple of sunny days will do for the birds. On
Sunday morning all but 2 birds disappeared for 30 minutes. When the
birds returned they flew strongly around the loft for another half hour.
On Tuesday morning the birds flew around the loft for 30 minutes and then
broke up into 2 groups and 2/3 of them disappeared for another half hour.
The youngsters have been on the wing for over 90 minutes daily. I am
still having problems with a handful of birds. They are refusing to kit
with the rest and a couple will not fly for very long. They have some
health issues therefore they will have to be dealt with accordingly.
To date, 9 pigeons or 6.5% of the entries have been
removed from the loft. The owners have been notified.
I hope to start training by the weekend.
July 2nd (12 km) -
The birds received their 1st training toss today.
were released at 7:50 in a mix of sun and cloud with calm conditions. They
arrived as a group 50 minutes later.
(12 km) - The 2nd train tossing birds released at 7:50. Four birds
arrived at 8:20; three of these had health issues. The rest arrived at
8:40, circled the loft a couple of time, landed and trapped immediately.
(28 km) - The
birds received their 3rd training toss this morning from a distance
of 28 km.
They were released at 8:18 in cool calm weather and cloudless skies. They
arrived just as I drove in the yard at 8:55 and trapped immediately.
Tomorrow they will be tossed from the same point. It looks like their
sightseeing days may be over over. I hope so.
July 5th (28 km) - The birds were released at
8:30 and 7 birds were home when I arrived at 9:05. The rest arrived at
July 6th (42 km)
- The birds were released in perfect weather at 8:40. When I arrived
home at 9:30 the vast majority of birds were in the loft. Only a handful
were still outside sitting around.