It doesn’t happen often but if pigeons escape at organised shows, most will find their way home.

Otatara pigeon breeder David Service said he had been lucky that none of his birds had broken free at shows during his 54 years of entering competitions.

“They’re a homing bird … they [show pigeons] are not that fit and it might take them a few days, but they will get home,” Service said.

Poultry and pigeon breeder David Service holds one of his entries, a brown leghorn rooster, for the Invercargill Poultry & Pigeon Show this weekend.

This weekend, Service will have eight pigeons and seven hens-roosters at the Invercargill Poultry & Pigeon Club’s show at Kennington. He’s a life member of the club, and a big part of the enjoyment for him is catching up with fellow bird lovers.

Service has taken entries to shows all over the South Island and, occasionally, to the North Island. Three weeks ago, he took eight pigeons to the Wairarapa show in Masterton and returned home with several awards, including best young bird and second-best at the show.

Some of the things judges look for in poultry and pigeons are: body type, stance, balance, legs not too close together, missing feathers and shape of the head.

As a 14-year-old in 1964, Service entered pigeons at a show for the first time. He started racing them at the same time and continued doing that until 15 years ago.

When pulling the pin on racing, he decided to remove all pigeons from his property and concentrate on hens.

“I tried to get rid of them but I couldn’t,” Service said.

“When you’ve had a hobby for a long time, it’s hard to part with things.”

Service currently owns 30 hens-roosters and 20 show pigeons. Some of the roosters crow a bit at night when there’s a bright or full moon.

Occasionally, he has been attacked by a rooster using its spurs when believing its territory has been threatened.


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