Vitality and fertility - the true value of a racing pigeon

To get a good idea of the value of a racing pigeon you should thoroughly examine the bird’s build. You should also determine the strong and weak points of the pigeon from its birth.

But before we go into detail I would like you to consider the following: if you want to be a successful racer and breeder the health of your pigeons should always be your main concern. The health of your pigeons is worth more than any training method.

It is a fact that you should judge your pigeons on their natural characteristics. But even the most talented pigeon is useless if it has health issues. It is important to know that a pigeon has to be in a good health throughout its life. That is why a fancier should always take great care of his pigeons and should have a basic knowledge about the health of a pigeon.

The pigeon's build

We start with the pigeon’s head. The head of a good racing pigeon should not be particularly big or small. It is more important that the head is in proportion with the body and the other body parts.
In any case the front part, which is situated between the beak and the eyes, should not be squeezed. To verify this you should take a look at the two eyes of the pigeon with one eye closed. When doing this you should see the two pupils simultaneously, without first seeing the colour of the iris, which is situated in the front of the pupil. If the bird has a so called “upright sight” you should follow an imaginary line between the two mandibles of the bird’s beak; in case of a “lying sight” you take the line that starts from the underside of the beak.
If you can distinguish the colour of the iris at the front side of the pupil the head is squeezed. In that case the pigeon will not be strong enough to tackle grand distance races. The pigeon will not be able to breed youngsters that are strong enough for grand distance races either. Above the eyes the head should not be too flattened; it should not be skin and bone. The place where the back side of the head runs into the neck should not be too flattened either.
A good head looks as if there is a lot of room for the brains of the pigeon and its navigational abilities.

The bird’s cranium is situated in the forehead, in between the two eyes. It should have enough space to carry the brains and to allow a strong connection with the compass function of the bird, which is situated in the back side of the head.
This quality indicates that a racing pigeon will be intelligent and smart, irrespective of its bloodlines. This type of pigeon should be caressed by its fancier, because they will lead him to success. That is why they should have a decent training program.

The eyes should not protrude from their eye sockets and the beak should not have any openings when closed.
We have included different models of good heads, which are presented and described below.

You should not forget that a perfect head, irrespective of its bloodlines or origins, should have a slightly rounded or flattened shape and should not be squeezed at any place.
The eyes should fit well in their sockets.
The ears should have plenty of plumes that are kind of hill shaped around it.

The eye

There are still plenty of fanciers out there who think that a pigeon’s eye should have a particular colour. But we can assure you that any colour is fine. They can be brown, red, orange, yellow or grey. Any colour is fine as long as it is vivid and not faded by other colours. But they should have all features that allow it to be successful in races and in the breeding loft.
We would like to give you a brief overview of the most important parts of the eye, which will be discussed in the following chapters. If you are looking for the eye of a racer, a breeder or a bird that will be crossed you have to make sure that the eyeball under the eyelids has a dark grey or black colour. But this part of the eye should not be visible: it is important for a good racing or breeding pigeons to have a closed eye.
The colour of the iris should not be faded with other colours. The pupil, which sits in the middle of the iris, should have a shiny black colour. It allows the light to pass, which is then projected onto the retina, where the image is created.

Many writers claim that the pupil can move. This is not correct. It is in fact the circle of adaptation, which sits against the pupil, that moves with the muscles in the eye. But the visibility of this circle depends from pigeon to pigeon. When a pigeon has strong muscles it has more control over its circle of adaption, which is very important. It is indeed this circle that allows a pigeon to increase its resistance against fatigue and rain and wind during a race. It also provides protection against sunlight. The circle of adaption is less black compared to the pupil; the form of the pupil changes with even the slightest movement. It expands in the direction of the beak when the pigeon sees something in the distance; it contracts if it is looking at a nearby object. It becomes almost invisible when the pigeon looks directly into the sun. In that case the pigeon closes its pupil with her circle of adaption for a sharper vision and for protection.

With this in mind you will probably understand that a diseased or tired pigeon will have weak eye muscles, which results in a partially or completely invisible circle of adaption. This will affect the vision of the bird, as a result of which it will no longer be able to win prizes in races.
Since not all pigeons have their circle of adaption at the same place we distinguish two types of racing pigeons: the birds with “standing sight” and the birds with “lying sight”. For a racing pigeon the two types are equally good. We discuss birds that will be crossed or coupled in part seven.

Standing sight

Some pigeons have a quarter moon that sits against the front side of the pupil, which gives the pupil an elongated shape. If you form an imaginary line that starts between the two mandibles of the bird’s beak you will notice that this line will cut the quarter moon into two equal parts. In that case the bird is said to have an standing sight. But not all pigeons have a quarter moon shape. In many cases it is only a small edge of a quarter moon or an edge of a half moon. Some pigeons have a round circle with just a slightly thicker front end. These pigeons are all considered to have an upright eye. These four different types of circles of adaptation all have the same direction: the imaginary line runs through the two mandibles of their beak.

Standing sight

Lying sight

Some pigeons have a quarter moon that sits against the pupil, which gives it an elongated shape. When you draw an imaginary line at 45° (one eighth of a circle) below the middle line of the beak (between the two mandibles) the imaginary line will cut the quarter moon into two equal parts.
This is called a lying sight. But some pigeons will only have a slight edge of a quarter moon or a half moon. But in no case should the lower part of the circle of adaptation outreach one half of the eyeball.
If you want to know what type of eye your pigeon has you should push or turn the beak aside. This will make clear which category our pigeon belongs to. But you should keep in mind that about 50% of all pigeons belong to the two categories: they have a lying sight on one side and a standing sight on the other side.
If you want your racing and breeding pigeons to be in a good shape and to be capable of breeding first class descendants it is important to keep both your lying sight pigeons and your standing sight pigeons in perfect health in your loft.

It goes without saying that all qualities of your pigeons, including the characteristics we have just described, will be useless if the pigeon gets sick during a race or because of a draught in the loft.

Lying sight

The beak

The beak of a pigeon is less important compared to most other body parts. But it should be in proportion with the rest of the pigeon’s body. As we mentioned earlier the pigeon should be able to close the beak completely. If the bird has a strong upper mandible that becomes wider at the forehead the pigeon will not have a squeezed forehead. It will seem as if the bird has a large cranium with a strong connection to the bird’s compass function, which is of course very important. The lower jaw should also have a strong connection with its neck. This makes the bird more effective against the wind.

The neck

The neck should not be too long or too slender. It must be short and stout, especially where it goes into the chest and shoulders. This allows for easy flying and maintaining speed in the air. The wind passes over the rounded shapes so the bird will have low air resistance.

The chest

To make sure if your racing pigeon has a strong chest you should open its beak and take a look inside. The respiratory area should be situated deep in the gullet; it should be hardly visible.  The tongue should lay flat in the bird’s lower jaw. If the beak is wide open the pigeon should not push up its windpipe and the glottis. The deeper the respiratory area rests in the windpipe the stronger the chest of the racing bird.

The body

The body of a strong pigeon should have the following characteristics: a wide chest and a wide, flat and rounded back that gradually narrows towards the tailbone.
The chest should be deep and slightly rounded on the front side and with a slight sloping shape towards the underside, where it ends in a forked shape. The two ends of the fork connect with each other. The shorter the fork and the closer the two legs of the fork the stronger the pigeon will be. If the fork is sturdy the pigeon will be better in demanding races: the fork closes off its intestines.
A pigeon with a wide chest bone will be a very powerful bird.
You might wonder why the chest is so important for the performance of a pigeon. When a pigeon is flying it does not only flap its wings. It will also push the air against the back part of its body, causing it to be thrust ino the air. This explains why a body shape as described above is more resistant against air pressure and yet has the perfect shape to fly in the air without too much effort.
Strong shoulders indicate a short but stout arm. The entire body should have plenty of plumes, especially in the hip area and the tailbone and at least one half of its tail.



Best regards to pipa team.

Great information thanks Smile