BARRIE, ONT. — Joe Ferreira has been racing since 1975.
Not cars. Not horses. But pigeons.
On a race day, Ferreira takes his pigeons to a clubhouse where their electronic tracking bands are scanned and driven to a starting line. Then, they race back home.
Just like human athletes, the pigeons train for a big race. Ferreira let’s his birds go free and sees if they come back.
He says he’s built bonds with all 67 of his birds.
“Sometimes the day of a race, I look at the weather. And if the weather looks a little weird, I say ‘I don’t wanna risk losing you.’ So I keep them home,” Ferreira said.
The sport that has been around for centuries but Ferreira says it faces a lot of misconceptions.
“If you took one of those wild (pigeons), took it two blocks from the house…you would never see it again,” Ferreira says. “Those pigeons give us a bad name.”
Ferreira admits the sport is struggling to maintain interest.
“Nowadays they got all these bylaws. They won’t allow pigeons here or there. So it’s kinda killing the support. Plus, the younger generation is too busy with their video games at home.”
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