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Weekly Edition 046: Saturday 12th January 2002

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Island Ecology
by José P Ribas

Racing Pigeons - Part Four

Racing pigeons have by this time of the year, from the beginning of January till the middle of March, started their courtship and reproduction cycles.

The courtship begins with the New Year, when the males start to follow and beset the females all over the place, sometimes several males after a single female. The most persistent cock will win this competition. But he's got to win this privilege with his determination, until the female accepts him. Once the female accepts the male, as they are monogamous birds, the relationship can last for the rest of their lives, if the breeder's interest or any other strong reason doesn't separate them.   

During the first weeks, until the laying of the first egg, as in a honeymoon, the male is always by her side. Often we can hear him calling her with his cooing, the copulation is done very frequently, and he keeps the rest of the males away by being aggressive, as jealous as Othello with Desdemona. (Are we talking about birds?)

From eight to ten days after the pregnancy, she lays the first egg late in the afternoon. Two days later, in the middle hours of the day, she lays a second egg. About thirty-five days later she will be ready to lay one or two more eggs, so that means three to four new pigeons per couple per year.

Both birds do the incubation, the male incubates from ten in the morning till four o'clock in the afternoon, the female does the rest of the day. During this time is when pigeons show themselves most aggressive, even with their own breeders, their primitive territorial instincts keeping any stranger away from the nest. 

Seventeen days after the laying of the second egg, the newborn pigeons start breaking the shell. It is an enormous effort that takes them almost all day. 

For the first nine or ten days of their life, new born pigeons rely totally on their parents, which feed the roosters with a kind of whitish, soft puree known as "pigeon's milk" that the parents produce themselves just for this purpose.  Then, little by little, they start introducing grains in the young pigeon's beak. Also, when a young racing pigeon reaches the tenth day, he gets his ring fixed in his leg for the rest of his life. In this ring, we can read, first the country and its federation number, then his individual series number and the two last figures - the year of the decade of his birth. It is literally his identification card. For the control in each tournament and championship, pigeons have another rubber ring or "Rossor" fixed in the leg.  

After twenty-five days or so, young pigeons are already eating grain by themselves and they get separated from the parents. It is best to have a compartment in the loft exclusively for this purpose. Otherwise they can be left in the female's compartment, where they will get familiar to their own loft and start developing their flying potential inside.  

The proper training in open-air will begin a few weeks later. Young Cardinal pigeons will be released, best in the morning of a clear day and one by one, about one kilometre away from the loft to which - hopefully - they will return straight away. This operation will be repeated from all directions and also pigeons will be released daily from the loft for them to fly in circles above the loft area.  This is so they can develop their orientation and navigation qualities.  Meanwhile, they are closely observed by their breeders, who can see in them their own individual qualities and the birds he will keep apart for the competition as future champions.

Little by little, the releasing distance from the loft will be increased from different directions, ten, fifteen or twenty kilometres at a time, as far as three hundred kilometres for their first year. There are already official competitions from this distance for one-year-old pigeons. The best of them will continue competing for the second year, from as far as seven hundred kilometres. For the greater distance courses, over seven hundred or even more then a thousand kilometres, only three-year-old bird or more will participate.       

"La Sociedad Colombófila Santa Eulaliense"

"Club Colombófilo Santa Eulalia"

In May 1950, was founded in Santa Eulalia del Rio (Eivissa) the second Society or Club of racing pigeon' fanciers and breeders of the Island, with the name of "Sociedad Colombófila Santa Eulaliense". This name was change a few years after for "Club Colombófilo Santa Eulalia".

The first president and his team was:

Fracisco Torres Marí. President.

Vicente Noguera Guasch. Vice-president.

Francisco Marí Guasch. "Contador"

Arnaldo Marí Escandell. Secretary.

Marcos Juan Colomar. Vice-secretary.

Antonio Marí Torres. Treasurer.

Vicente Marí Juan. Administrator.

José Guasch Tur, Miguel Noguera Guasch, José Clapés Guasch. As Vocals.

Since then, the following presidents have been:

Vicente Noguera Guasch.

Antonio Ferrer Cirer.

Francisco Ferrer Marí.

Antonio Ferrer Cirer.

Francisco Ferrer Marí.

The historical records of this Club are very interesting, it has obtained several regional tittles in different categories, organised by the Balearic Federation and they were Balearic Champions in the years:

1961: "Concurso Regional de Velocidad Maritima" (Regional Maritime Speed). Winner. Alfredo Marí Juan.

"Concurso Regional Fondo Terrestre" (Regional Long distance, from Córdoba, Spain). W. Francisco Torres Marí.

1970: "Concurso Regional Medio Fondo" (Regional Middle distance, from Almería, Spain). W. Pedro Tur Marí.

1983: "Concurso Regional Fondo (I)" (Regional Long distance, from Almadenejos, Ciudad Real) .W. Antonio Ferrer Marí.

"Concurso Regional Fondo (II)" (Regional Long distance, from Almdenejos, Ciudad Real). W. Juan Riera Marí.

1985: "Concurso Regional de Velocidad" (Regional Speed, from Lorca, Murcia). W. Antonio Ferrer-Olmedo.

1988: "Concurso Regional de Velocidad" (Regional Speed, from Munera, Albacete). W. Vicente Marí Juan.

1990: "Concurso Regional de Velocidad" (Regional Speed, from Munera, Albacete). W. A. Cabrera Juan.

1991: "Concurso Regional de Velocidad" (Regional Speed, from Lorca, Murcia). W. A. Costa Torres.

"Concurso Regional Fondo" (Regional Long distance, from Almadenejos, Ciudad Real). W. Umberto Utró.

1992: "Concurso Regional de Velocidad" (Regional Speed, from Purchena, Almería). W. Juan Riera Marí.

"Concurso Regional Fondo" (Regional Long distance, from Don Benito, Badajoz). W. Juan Riera Marí.

1994: "Concurso Regional de Velocidad" (Regional Speed) Juan Ferrer Guasch was the winner by total points.

1999: "Concurso Regional de Velocidad" (Regional Speed). Again Juan Ferrer Guasch was the winner by total points.

In the National Championships, organised by the "Real Federación Colombófila Española" (Royal Spanish Federation of Pigeons Fanciers), the "Club Colombófilo Santa Eulalia" have won the following Championships and Awards:

1988: "Superprestigio de tres años de Fondo" (Super-prestige, three years Long distance winner). It was won by Antonio Marí Juan, with the bird number 81.175-83

1990: Antonio Costa Serra won the "As Paloma Velocidad" (Special Speed Award), with the bird number 104.364-88. The average speed of this pigeon was of 2.015 metres per minute in the National Speed Competition.

1996: In the "Concurso Regional de Larga Distancia" (Special Greater distance Tournament), from Lisbon (Portugal), one of the birds of José Clapes Guasch was 6th and another bird of Miguel Tur Torres was 9th.

This Club has also organised the "XXIII Regional Exhibition of Racing Pigeons" in its hometown, Santa Eulalia, with a big success.

In the year 1976, the "Club Colombófilo Santa Eulalia was honoured with the Bronze Medal to the Constancy. And again in 1983 with the Silver Medal to the Constancy. 

Please note that it is against the law to kill or retain and keep any bird found with a ring. In case of finding a racing pigeon with a ring, dead or alive, or just the skeleton with the ring, please keep the ring and contact the local racing pigeons clubs, or call the police who will inform you of the best thing to do.

Picture © Gary Hardy (1990)

José P Ribas

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