Guest Author - Malika Harricharan
Did you know that pigeon racing is a very big sport? These pigeons, known as homing pigeons, are specially trained for racing. Once released, the first pigeon to travel a specified distance and return back to the starting point is the winner of the pigeon race. Special bracelets linked to a master clock on placed on thepigeons to determine the winner. It is estimated that pigeon racing dates back to 220 AD.
During a pigeon race, the birds are all released at a central point away from their homes. The owners then wait for the pigeons to return home. The distance of a pigeon race can be anywhere from 100 to 600 miles.
Check out the video below for more information on pigeon racing.
When taken from their homes, pigeons will fly as fast as 60 mph to get back home. Scientists don't know why pigeons are like this, but they will even try to get home no matter where they are moved. Theories suggest that it has something to do with the earth's magnetic field.
Pigeon fliers, as the owners and trainers are known, treat their birds like royalty, taking special care to feed only the best seed and vitamins. Pigeon fliers, usually average about 60 birds, and enter 10 to 20 birds per race.
Homing pigeons begin their training a few weeks after birth, being released only a short distance in the beginning and then further and further away from home. One strategy that has been used in female pigeons is to have them sit on "fake eggs". That way, when they are released they believe they have been separated from their eggs and fly even faster to get home to them.
Although pigeon racing remains somewhat of a big sport, the numbers of pigeon fliers has been on decline. Most pigeon fliers are getting older and not being replaced by a younger generation. This is probably due to the high cost of raising and training pigeons, which can be several thousand dollars. Some pigeon fans include the likes of Walt Disney, Mike Tyson and even the Queen of England.
For more information on pigeon racing check out this link www.pigeon.org