Birdy, ace racer and world-class breeder (part 2)

From the months of November to February each year, the eyes of pigeon fanciers from across the globe focus on South Africa for the Million Dollar Pigeon Race. The race is known as the ultimate selection process where only the fastest and most intelligent racing pigeons survive. There have been many great champions but one reigns over them all: Birdy.

A Beginning in the Rhineland

The story began when, in the European summer months of 2007, the German partnership of Südhoff and Van Beers entered their young blue hen into the biggest one loft race in the world. German fanciers have a history of impressive results in the Million Dollar Race as the successes of Hardy Krüger, Helmut and Alfons Klaas and most recently Karl-Heinz Koch justify. Many attribute this to the fact that the German racing championships are based on a pigeon’s performance in every race during the programme and thus like goes on to breed like. Racing in other parts of Europe is more classic-orientated where birds are prepared for one or maybe two designated races each season. Whatever the reason may be, one cannot argue with the fact that they are one of the best performing nations in one loft racing events.

The blue hen, ring number DV06053-07-900, was christened with the name Birdy. Her owners, Burkard Südhoff and Willi Van Beers had carefully bred Birdy from a combination of Hardy Krüger, Louis van Loon and Janssen birds. The Hardy Krüger influence is in the form of the wonder pair: Carl Lewis and Naomi. Carl Lewis was of course the 3rd National Ace Bird of Germany in 1992 and went on to found a dynasty of exceptional racers for Hardy when paired to his granddaughter, Naomi. This line makes up the paternal grandmother. The paternal grandfather is Effe 66. He won a 3rd Provincial Ace Bird title and 20th National Ace Bird cock (all Germany) in 1998. His son, DV06053-02-1687 (sire of Birdy), was also crowned as 1st Provincial Ace Bird. Despite this spectacular combination of genes, Burkard and Willi could not have dreamt of the success that Birdy would achieve in her racing career of 24 races over 4 months.

The consistency in Birdy’s performance level over the Million Dollar race programme is breath-taking. The early training flights begin at 30km where the majority of the birds arrive together. It would be easy for the reader to surmise that in these races Birdy followed the group and was simply a good trapper’. However, quite remarkably, Birdy maintained this level of consistency throughout the season right up until the least race where she scored a 10th prize. In racing terms, Birdy was a one-off! So good was her performance that Mark Kitchenbrand was prepared to part with $100,000 to acquire her to be part of his breeding programme.

A Golden Breeding Line

As good as Birdy was in her racing career, she is equally famous for her potency as a breeder. Here is a brief insight into what the Birdy family line has achieved for their owners, Team Kitchenbrand: The first six direct children to Birdy all bred multiple 1st prize winners including a car winner in one loft racing. Tiger, a direct son of Birdy, bred 2 direct children who appeared in the top 200 in the Sun City Million Dollar Race 2010 and 4 direct children who appeared in the top 200 in the Sun City Million Dollar Race 2011. The 864, a sister to Birdy, is the grandmother of Ragnar 2 (Team Brandy) who won 4th prize in the Sun City Million Dollar Pigeon Race 2012. The 863, a sister to Birdy, bred Playboy who won 1st national Poitiers (9,325 birds) in 2011 and the Ace Young Hen in the federation. Ruby, a sister to Birdy, has bred a host of 1st prize winners plus Blitz, who won 285th Sun City Million Dollar Race 2011. The 200, a sister to Birdy, bred Mark who was the best pigeon on the national races in 2011 winning 32nd Bourges (13,673 birds) and 35th Poitiers (9,325 birds).

Queen Elizabeth, a full sister to Birdy, bred ZA GPU 12 8996 (Superman). Superman was the Ace Pigeon Union Short Distance and All Round Ace Pigeon (180 Members) in 2013. His performances were:

1st club (144 members)     9th union (2,069 birds)       287km
1st club (138 members)     1st union (2,014 birds)       389km
1st club (140 members)    81st union (2,017 birds)       487km
25th club (122 members)   78th union (1,564 birds)       389km
11th club (110 members)   62nd union (1,303 birds)       674km
2nd club (179 members)     2nd union (1,562 birds)       276km
9th club (115 members)    40th union (1,663 birds)       254km
2nd club (118 members)     3rd union (1,674 birds)       389km
6th club (109 members)     7th union (1,438 birds)       389km
7th club (112 members)    23rd union (1,538 birds)       483km
5th club (103 members)     9th union (1,475 birds)       512km
3rd club (113 members)    10th union (1,601 birds)       522km
3rd club (180 members)   101st federation (1,471 birds)  284km

There can be little doubt that in her own loft alone, Birdy has more than paid Mark back for the outlay he made to acquire her. However our story does not end there as the Birdy line has achieved far-reaching success right across South Africa.

The South African Prestige Invitational Pigeon Race (SAPIR) is a one loft competition where the cream of the South African fancy come together to compete against each other. It is a tough young bird series and a true test of the tenacity and extraordinary orientation ability of each individual bird. It would be no understatement to say that the Birdy line has dominated the racing: SAPIR 2015 Challenge Race winner was Hannes 3. It was entered by Hannes Maree and was the only nominated bird of 9 birds back on race day at 574km where temperatures rose to beyond 30°C and where the birds had to fly into a head-wind back to their loft. The sire of Hannes 3 is a son of Riley, a brother to the sire of Birdy, when mated to a half-sister of Birdy. The dam of Hannes 3 is a daughter of DV 06503-03-1176, which is a half-sister to the sire of Birdy. SAPIR 2014 Hot Spot Ace Pigeon was Johan 1, raced by J Hamilton. Johan 1 is a granddaughter of Birdy. SAPIR 2013 Hot Spot Ace Pigeon was J B 2, raced by J B Loft.  J B 2 was another grandchild of Birdy. 2nd Hot Spot SAPIR 2014 was ZA-13-58867. This bird is another granddaughter of Birdy on the maternal side whilst the sire is bred through a brother to the sire of Birdy.

Success Across South Africa

A similar impact has been made in individual lofts across South Africa:

Ruan Louw was crowned Cape Town Federated Board Champion at just 18 years of age in 2013 He is the youngest known South African fancier to be crowned club, federation and overall PDHU Union Champion (60 Members) and Cape Town Federated Board Champion (580 Members). The majority of his star performers are from the Birdy line. Johan Kruger of the Pioneer Racing Pigeon Club in Middelburg is a fancier with 50 years of experience with our feathered friends. He was the first South African fancier to place his order of the Birdy family with Mark Kitchenbrand. Whilst being predominantly a breeder, he has achieved a series of impressive results with his Birdy breed. For example, a granddaughter of Birdy, ZA 44795-12, scored 7th Pretoria Pigeon Combine when 196 members sent 2,290 birds. ZA GPU 16483-11 scored 1st club, 5th federation; being 1st bird to the loft in all her races. She is inbred to Birdy on both her sire and dam's side. ZA TRPF 13076-12 scored 2x 1st, 2nd, 3rd etc. She is another descendant of Birdy. Thinus Botha is a member of the Polokwane Racing Pigeon Club in the Far North Racing Pigeon Federation. He enjoyed an exceptional season in 2015 with his Birdy line. A granddaughter of Birdy, ZA VNRF 2430-13, scored 2x 1sts; scoring in four money nomination races. ZA VNRF 84-14 scored 1st federation from 380 km. He is bred from a nephew of Birdy when paired to an inbred hen to Birdy. Albert P Lingenfelder is a member of the Villiersdorp Racing Pigeon Club under the banner of the North Boland Homing Union. He is a relative novice in pigeon racing terms with just 15 years of racing experience. Arguably his biggest win came through his ZA NBHU 12645-14 BB C who scored 1st Western Cape Classic when 1,330 members sent 15,912 birds. The sire is bred from Queen Elizabeth, a full sister to Birdy. And so the list goes on ….

A Freak of Nature

I hope that this report illustrates the unfathomable quality of the super racing and breeding hen that is Birdy. There exists in many lofts across the globe ace racing birds who have achieved a long list of prizes. Similarly we find golden breeding birds who rarely fail to breed a champion. However to combine both traits in one pigeon is a phenomenon. Step forward Birdy!