It’s a hobby that’s a little out of the ordinary, but those who race pigeons love it.
The Calgary Racing Pigeon Club was established in 1904 and today has upwards of 30 members.
President David McKop says member numbers are down from a few years ago because not as many young people are getting involved.
McKop says he grew up with pigeons and has been around them now for over 60 years.
He started in Zimbabwe watching his father’s passion and when he moved to England he continued raising homing pigeons and that extended to Canada in 2000 when he moved here.
“You’d be surprised that pigeon racing – you’ll find it everywhere, there’s no country that doesn’t have pigeon racing”, said McKop.
He now has around 100 pigeons that he’s training for a weekend race.
The birds are released from Field, B.C. and are judged on the time it takes them to get back to his northwest Calgary home.
“They’re probably one of the smartest birds in the world eh, they get boxed up in crates and taken 100s of miles in a trailer and let out there and they fly back,” McKop said.
Timing gear can cost upwards of $800 and good homing pigeons can range in price from $50 to $1000.
Many racers have a ‘loft’ to house their pigeons right in their back yard.
Alisar Alnahawi, 14, is learning about racing pigeons from her dad.
“Pigeons are sweet, people I know when I mention my pigeons they’re like ‘oh street rats you know’, but they aren’t street rats they’re amazing”, said Alnahawi.
The Calgary Racing Pigeon Club is hopeful more teens like Alnahawi get involved in the hobby so Calgary’s club can continue for another century.
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