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Maybe Questions about them

or the Sport.

Never forget that "A Sport" is for Enjoyment.  The Best Performers come from people who have an Outstanding Love in the FUN  they are having.      If anyone has any further questions - comments - answers - or just about anything to add to the Sport of Racing Homing Pigeons, we would enjoy receiving all emails:



Larry Tiner


Athens, Texas


"We're just here having fun!"


Table of Contents

  1. How do I find a club in my area?

  2. How do I find the owner of a lost bird?

  3. How do I find good quality pigeons to race?

  4. How do I know if my pigeon is of Good Quality to race?

  5. Where do I find pigeon supplies?

  6. Why does the pigeon return home?

  7. Who is the World Champion Pigeon Flyer?

  8. What is the difference between Homing Pigeons and Common Pigeons?

  9. When is Racing Season?

  10. How do you know which is Male or Female?

  11. What's up with the Eye-Sign of a Pigeon?

  12. What if I raise pigeons but there is no local club to Race in?

  13. Does this sport cost very much money?

  14. Do I have to train my bird on line?

  15. How do I raise young birds?

  16. How do I breed racing pigeons?

  17. What age can newborns fly?

  18. There is a pigeon in my yard with a hurt leg, what do I do?

  19. How do I read the band numbers on the pigeons leg?

  20. How do I put a band on a pigeon?

  21. How do I take a band off a pigeon?

  22. What kind of pen do you have to build to keep pigeons?

  23. How big should a pen be to keep pigeons?

  24. How do you time a pigeon in a race?

  25. How fast do pigeons fly?

  26. Who races homing pigeons?

  27. How do you make a pigeon trap?

  28. What are the secrets about racing pigeons?

  29. When were pigeons first used for delivering messages?

  30. What are the types of pigeons that race?










How do I find a club in my area?

First: Visit the American Racing Pigeon Union (AU) and click on "Find Club" and they will email you with PLENTY of information.

Or visit the International Federation of American Homing Pigeon Fanciers (IF) and click on "band list". IF Web Site leaves it up to you to find the club nearest you through their band listings. They have contact names for each club that were issued bands everywhere.

How do I find the owner of a lost bird?

Lost and Found pages are put up on a lot of Pigeon Web Sites.  We suggest this one for now:

InterBug Homing Pigeon

How do I find good pigeons to race?

There are feather merchants all over the net.  We suggest that after you join a club you get to know some of the flyers.  We have heard over and over that the best birds that most flyers have owned...were given to them.  They do not necessarily have to come from the Lofts that win all the time.  Some older flyers and flyers not on the Race Line may have some killer birds.  They are often willing and wanting to give good birds to new flyers in the Sport.  There is a proud moment in giving someone the best they have.

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How do I know if my pigeons are of good quality to Race?

That's almost like "how do I know if the woman I love would be a good wife?" They say that for the bird, the truth comes out of the basket.  Release your birds with other flyers and clock them, or basically, you have to put them in a Race to see what they do.  Each race is different and each bird responds differently under different conditions.  We have seen the worst looking birds in our loft come home first and visa versa.  At different distances you would be surprised as to the outcome.  Birds on eggs, with babies, or starting to mate will do some outstanding things.  Best way to check your bloodline for Quality is to put them out on a Race.

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Where can I find supplies for my pigeons?

There are a numerous amount of pigeon supply houses. Just to list a few...

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Why does the pigeon return home?

Because they are "Homing Pigeons" and they like to do that..."Home". Other than that, you will not be able to find the exact truth till the bird starts talking.  A college in PA. tried blindfolding the bird and they still came home from 200 miles, had a little trouble landing on the landing board, but it made it home even blindfolded.  Science has not found the answer to this yet and they have been doing research on it since Science began.  They say it could be from the earth's magnetic field, but it is inconclusive.  The best answer to that that I can give you is that God made them that way so Noah would know it was getting about time to get off the boat.

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Who is the World Champion Pigeon Flyer?

That's another thing that maybe only God knows.  To me it has to do with winning a race within the fastest time.  Meaning they had a bird that was clocked at the fastest speed in a sanctioned race. Rick Smith in Denton, Texas had entered a 400 mile North Texas Concourse race out of the West and his bird was clocked with an average speed of 92.5 miles an hour.  That sounds like a World Champion Pigeon Flyer to me.


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What is the difference between the Racing Homing Pigeon and (Common) the Birds I see Downtown and Under Bridges?


Night and Day.  I never have seen one of the birds downtown being sold for $137,000.  The Homing Pigeon has been bred now for a few hundred years to be strong and healthy.  If kept by a Fancier, they are well cared for, bred right, and medicated constantly.  Most Breeders that find a sick bird in there loft bury them.  That way they don't breed the sickness on down and down the family tree.  There is no doubt that some of the birds you see downtown could be cross bred by a Lost Homing Pigeon, but if it does not have a band on it, I wouldn't catch it to Race against the many Thoroughbred Pigeons that are entered into the Racing Sport.

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When is Racing Pigeon Season?

It comes and goes at different times in different areas.  Here in North Texas we start our Young Bird Season near September thru December.  The Old Bird Season starts in March thru May.  We tend to work on our breeding according to the new year.  We get our Club Bands on the 1st of January so we put our Breeding Pairs together around Thanksgiving in November.  The Breeders make their nest and lay their eggs and approximately 18 days after the eggs or laid, they hatch, somewhere around Christmas.  Normally you have to put the band on the bird between 7 to 10 days after they hatch, that puts the banding days right around the 1st of January.  These are the Young Birds that will fly in September out to about 300 miles..  Then the Young Birds will be flying the Old Bird Season come the next year in March.  Making them a Yearling and more capable and mature enough to be going longer distances of 500 to 600 miles.

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How do you know which is the male and the female bird?

Well, the male bird will only eat female worms, and the female bird will only eat male worms.  But really, since pigeons don't eat worms and I think that a worm is asexual, this is a tuff job at different stages of the birds life.  Looking at the head when they are still in the nest is one way.  The cock will have more of a square head (looking from above the bird) and the female will have somewhat of a tapered head.  At four months or so you can hold the bird with its breast toward you, reach down and grab the birds right foot and holding the two outside toes together you can detect that one will be longer than the other or they will be even.  If they are even, it's a hen, if they are uneven, it's a cock.  I know this sounds crazy but I have studied this for four years now on each of my young birds.  We have to register them at the combine and mark if they are hens or cocks.  By the time the birds start breeding, some 80% of the birds are sexed right.  So this toe theory holds fairly true.  Another way is watch and sees who lays the egg.  But also, if you don't know by the time they lay, you will notice the hen on the nest at night and the cock will be on the nest somewhere between the hours of 10:00 am and 5:00 pm.

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What's up with the Eye sign on a Pigeon?

OK. "When my eye sees my birds tail feathers stuck up in the trap on race day, it is the only sign I look for."  When I first got into the Sport I remember seeing my uncle look through a hoop at his birds.  Said he was looking for a "worm". So I looked. And looked. And looked at every bird I handled.  For a while I thought I was on to something when I found two eyes alike that performed well.  Well, I went on to look, and look and look.  Then someone loaned me the Pictorial Magazine.  About fifty copies set in my room and after looking at nearly half of them (they feature eye signs in wonderful color) I went blind.  I personally couldn't tell you one eye from another.  If the pigeon has two eyes on its head and sees out of both of them, thats another good eye sign to me.  I do not mean to put rubbish on any person that has written and made a fortune on eye signs.  I came nearly falling off my feet when a friend came in my loft and picked out one of my best birds and said he did it by looking at the eye.  OK for him, knowing something I quit trying to learn, I also know that the bird had an apple body and slick feathers and red feet and was looking good as she started to breed.  I personally would rather spend my time on results, from training tosses to races I keep records that gives my EYE a SIGN of what that family is doing.  

If you want to know about EYE SIGN visit:

 Eyesign 101 (a tutorial for beginners) 

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What if I raise pigeons but there is no local clubs to Race in?

You can send your birds to different lofts and they will race them for you.  It is an Out Of Area program where certain Futurity Races send out letters to everyone to ship there birds in for a certain race.  While your birds are there for a Futurity Race they may be sent to the regular Club, Combine or Concourse Races.  Again, the Internet is a great place to find up coming races and Futurity Races.  If you want to fly your birds in the North Texas Area feel free to contact us and we can help you find a loft that will take your birds in.  Normally, you give the bird to the Handler after the races are over.  In some Futurity Races they allow a Buy Back, where your bird can fly the race then you get it back when you pay for the shipping.

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Does this sport cost very much money?

Let's say it doesn't cost but $350 a year.  To someone on a fixed income that could be a Monthly Paycheck.  To someone else that might be what they spent for dinner last night.  It's all relative.  You have your club, combine dues and AU or IF dues and shipping dues for young birds and shipping dues for old birds.  Between that and a few other charges that could be a few tanks of gas for training, food, a clock, gas, medication and odds and ends you can't live without, it could get expensive.  I think on the average you'll spend about $500 a year to compete.  I know guys that spend thousands a year, but I don't, and I race.  So just take one step at a time when you join a club and see what all your club may allow.  All HOBBIES cost you something, even if you are a couch potato, you have to pay the electric bill to the TV and Momma don't get the "griddles" out of a hat for free.

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Do you have to train your birds on line?

Normally when I'm on line, I am fixing my web site...However, one of the best years I have had in racing was when I was too busy to train my birds on line.  I worked all over the Dallas area and I started taking my young birds out to where ever my job was.  Each morning they were tossed from a different place.  I believe it's the air time, not the on line flights that makes them good.  You'll find different strokes from different folks on this matter.  I'm not sure the pigeon flies in a straight line.  A friend of mine followed them 250 miles in a plane one time and he said they were all over the place.  As much as 30 miles one way and 40 miles the other.  What would be on line for the bird.

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How do I raise young birds?

Very much like you would any animal.  Making sure it has clean water and food every day is

a very important matter in the process.  Have a dry loft for the birds and a high perch always helps.  The recommended space for the birds is one square foot of floor space for each bird in the loft.  The more room they have the happier they will be and that helps them to stay at home.

Don't ever over feed the birds then release them to loft fly.  More of this is on our Introduction Page.


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How do I breed racing pigeons?

Those of us that fly our birds in races, will take the best of the best and put them in a cage.  The best flying hen and the best flying cock.  They will mate up pretty much on their own if they are given a loft or cage or room of their own.  It is also good that you find birds from other lofts ever so often to add to your birds bloodlines.  Basically, to breed racing pigeons, you have to start off with racing homing pigeons.  You can't make a mountain out of a molehill, it's just too short.  And you can't make a racing pigeon out of fancy pigeon, they just won't make the trip on race day.  A lot of different breeds of pigeons are around these days, but the homing pigeon is the one that does the best on race day.

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What age can new borns fly?

In less than fifty days.  If you have your bird on a loft floor and you see that the bird is up on the perch, the bird is ready to start flying.  You will see the young birds flapping their wings and lifting themselves off the ground.  They are working those muscles and it will not be long before they are up and flying


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There is a pigeon in my yard with a hurt leg, what do I do?

Call an Ambulance.  Seriously, if the bird is banded, try finding the owner and let him patch it up. 

Here is what I do with my birds when they come in with a hurt leg.  I get a big milk shake plastic straw, cut it down to 1 1/2 inches in length.  Take a xacto knife and split the straw length wise, put that straw around the hurt leg, and tape it.  It makes a real good cast for the bird to keep it from bending its leg.  Then a few days later the bird will start moving around pretty good, so I make a little set of crutches about seven inches tall and tape the crutches under the wings for the bird to use.  The straw works real good, the birds don't really like or use the crutches.  I was just throwing that in just incase you thought you were the first to think about crutches.


After about two weeks you can pull the straw off.  I have had my birds up and flying and landing with the straw cast.  Someone makes a bandage for birds that have broken legs, but the straw is always handy and I would say a whole lot cheaper than the factory built bandage.


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How do I read the band number on the pigeons leg?

Most racing pigeon bands will have letters and numbers.  The first place to start on the band is with the little letters "AU" or "IF".  Then the year, then the other letters represents the club name most of the time.  Then the big numbers on the band represent what may be the birds name.

Example:   AU 04 DALLAS 5142

If the band has AU on it, that means that the American Racing Pigeon Union made and issued those bands out.  The 04 is of course the year.  Dallas Homing RPC is the club the AU issued the bands and the number goes to the member in that club.  Most bands are handed out on a string with 100 bands on it.  So from 5101 to 5200 was issued to a certain member.  If you try to find the owner, the Race Secretary for the Dallas Homing Racing Pigeon Club will have a list and know that those certain numbers were given to one club member.


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What kind of pen do you have to build to keep pigeons?

Some people keep their birds in small cages.  That works, but if the bird is not happy, they may not stay home.  The rule of thumb is to allow one square foot of floor space, per bird.  The best you can prepare is the roof.  Make sure you loft is dry and stays dry.  


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How big should a pen be to keep pigeons?

If you are going to keep 100 birds or so, I would make the loft fairly big.  This question is best dealt with on how many birds you plan on having and what you are going to do with them once they grow up and start flying.  


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How do you time a pigeon in a race?

By the hundredths of a second.  We also have special clocks.  The idea is marking the time the bird is released from the race station and marking the time it enters the loft.  Take the time in the air and divide it into the miles.  On our race sheets we break it down to the yards per minute that the bird averaged flying.

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How fast do pigeons fly?

They have been clocked here in Texas doing 92.5 miles an hour in a 400 mile race.  There was a good tail wind at the time, and I suppose that if you had 100 mile an hour tailwinds, your bird could fly very quickly.  On the average, the birds fly from 40 to 50 mph.


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Who races homing pigeons?

Some of the greatest people in the world.  You might want to look at our page on

Famous People Who Fancied Pigeons to see if there is anyone there you might know.

People of all walks of life entertain themselves on weekends in the sport and many more people would like to according to the emails we get.

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How do you make a pigeon trap?

Teach it while it is young.  If you work the birds in an aviary (that is a pen on the outside of the loft) you can put them out in the morning and they will eventually go back in through the trap when they get hungry.  Go through this process twice a day for a couple of weeks.  When you finally let your birds fly freely around the loft and they return to the landing board, you can start training them to go on into the loft by means of the trap.  After while, they catch on to the routine and become very good on their own about going into the trap.  We whistle every time we feed our birds, so when they are out flying, we can whistle and call them in and they will trap for the food.

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What are the secrets about racing pigeons?

I ain't going to tell you.  There are no secrets.  Those that have good loft management, end up writing books about how they won.  One day someone wins a bird race, and at the time he was out playing horseshoes, so he will tell you the best trick to winning races is being outside playing horseshoes.  Next week he might win the race while he was eating popcorn, then tells you the secret to winning a pigeon race is eating popcorn while you are waiting for the birds to return.

Common Sense is the best trick, and it stands to reason that health and good training is next in line for the best secrets.


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When were pigeons first used for delivering messages?

They say more than 5,000 years ago.  I wasn't around and I am not one to tell you that for a fact.


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What are the types of pigeons that race?

Fast ones.  Homing pigeons only.  Thoroughbreds.  The fact is, just about any homing pigeon can be entered into races.


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How do I band a pigeon?

While the bird is in the nest.  After about 7 to 8 days, the bird will be just big enough for you to slide the band on its leg, and it won't fall off.  If you put the band on, and you can pull it off, wait for another day or so.

Put the three toes through the band first, then pull it over the thumb.  If you waited too long, you will find this process a little harder.  Sometimes oil, Vaseline, or spit will help the band slide over the knuckle. 

Put the band on the birds right leg, and upside down.  When you go to shipping, if all the birds are banded that way, it makes countermarking a lot easier.


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How do I take a band off a pigeon?

Taking a band off is not something that you should be doing.  If the bird has a broken leg and it swells to the point you need to take the band off, then that is a reason, I think it is the only reason you would be pulling a band off.  Just take a very small pair of dikes (wire clippers) and cut the band and spread it apart until it comes off the leg.

Taking bands off is not something that you would ever do.  IF you have a bird come into your loft that you want to keep, don't.  Find the owner, ask him for the bird.  Most of the time, if the bird did not make it home, the owner may not want to be racing it anyway and will let you have it. 


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Revised: December 22, 2009 .




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