IT is not often one takes notice of a pigeon, but with the help of kindhearted Karyn Lund and a small push from social media, a six-week old racing pigeon was returned to its owner.
Something happened during one of its first flights, forcing it to land. With his luck he landed in food heaven, the Campus Cafe at Curro HCA High School. “Being a huge animal lover, cruelty-free living is my family’s thing, I Googled what the right thing to do was. Apparently homing pigeons like to hang out for a few days and then sometimes make their way home,” said Karyn Lund, the tuckshop owner.
The pigeon, nicknamed Mr Snax due to his love for popcorn and fries, found that Karyn’s handbag was the perfect place to nest. “Without wanting to be too invasive I eventually coaxed him into allowing me to pick him up. I retrieved the number off of the ring on his foot and asked for help on Upper Highway Info. Within minutes I had located his dad, Bruce Symons, and he is happy and back home with his pigeon friends,” said Karyn.
The Highway Mail caught up with Bruce to find out more about the sport of pigeon racing. The 40-year-old father of two is a member of the Hillcrest Pigeon racing Club which has 12 members, who are better known as pigeon fanciers. “The sport has been going on for hundreds of years and the local club has been running since 1976. In the old days it was called the poor man’s horse racing, It isn’t so much like that anymore as it definitely isn’t a cheap sport now,” he laughed.
What inspired you to get into pigeon racing?
When I was a child I had pigeons and it was a passion. I started racing in 2002 and there’s a drive to get better and better.
How do you train a pigeon?
It starts at home. When April arrives we chase the pigeons out the loft and do that for a couple of days. When they fly away from home we call it ranging. They then get their bearings right. The training consists of a 30km trip, then 50km, 90km. 120km and then 150km until we have the long training toss, sometimes ranging up to 800km. The birds fly back home from a certain point.
What is the worst part of pigeon racing?
Breeding the babies and the natural predators catch them. It is heartbreaking when you lose them. We lose about 40 per cent of our pigeons to wildlife.
What is the most rewarding part of racing for you?
When the pigeons come home. When that pigeon comes back, he has not only come back home but he has come back for you. I get goosebumps every time.
What three words would you use to describe the sport?
Rewarding. Exciting. Humbling.
Has a pigeon never returned before?
It does happen where a pigeon doesn’t come back. They could have been caught or killed and some of them just decide they don’t want to race anymore and become commons, a feral pigeon or rats of the sky.
What is the average time you need to train a pigeon?
To train a pigeon to fitness you only need six weeks.
Which breed of pigeon works best in the races?
The pacific racing pigeon as they have more muscle and better brain capacity.
How many pigeons do you currently own?
I have 130 babies and about 50 old birds.
Describe your typical competition day:
I am generally pacing up and down. Get a bottle of wine from my wife and we put on a potjie or braai.
Complete this sentence: Pigeons are… “the athletes of the sky.”
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Contact Info: 1- 877– 4– NO-BIRD (www.pigeonpatrol.ca)