Training pigeons – The instinctive return to the loft

The homing pigeon has the ability to locate its position relative to its loft, despite important distances.
Pigeon fanciers are taking advantage of this excellent opportunity to organize pigeons racing (competition). To give the example of France (numerous pigeon fanciers in this country), if weather conditions are favorable, a pigeon dropped the morning at Perpignan in southern France, may be returned in the evening in Lille in the north (more than 1000 kms).

The pigeon does not follow the North direction indicated by the compass. It can travel in any direction. If the racing pigeon is in Paris, we can let go of Brest, Strasbourg, Marseille and Bordeaux. It will all the same get back to its loft.

Training pigeons – How the pigeon can orient itself in space?

* The sun serves as a landmark.
On overcast or foggy weather, it is more difficult to orient itself, and during solar disturbances.

* The north magnetic pole: it certainly compares its position with that of his loft. During magnetic disturbances, even in good weather, the losses are much more severe.

Experiments suggest that if the pigeon is isolated from a magnetic field in a Faraday cage (iron loft), losses are more numerous (or leavers contests or young pigeons that are dropped for the first time) than in a wood loft.

U.S. researchers (two biologists from the University of New York, a biologist and a geologist at Princeton) said they found in nerve fibers of the base of the brain of pigeons, tiny elongated granules similar to micro-magnets. Chemical analysis of these granules indicates the presence of iron, nickel, copper, zinc and lead. The complexity of the structure of these granules suggests a higher efficiency compared to magnetometers.

* The stars and the moon perhaps? Some pigeons sometimes get back as night already fell.

* Landmarks: with a little training, and by dint of travelling, the racing pigeon locates characteristic landmarks.

In the army, they used this power to establish mobile loft (trailer). Of course, the trailer must be well characterized (shape, color and additional elements) and accustom the pigeons by progressive movements.

Training pigeons – Conclusion

It is likely that all these elements come together. It is difficult to demonstrate, because a pigeon is not another one. Sometimes we even lose the experienced pigeons without knowing why.
In contrast, I have already send pigeons who had never traveled directly to 300 km, and they returned to the loft.

Training pigeons – Contests

Do not drop your racing pigeons under the rain.

It is good to see the weather across the flight line: if we drop them when the weather is fine, but pigeons encounter storms 100 km away, they will be disoriented and may be soaked by rain in the point to settle anywhere.

On the other hand, by short rains and sunny spell, the racing pigeons are not bothered.

Do not drop racing pigeons into the fog.

But the fog on the ground have never prevented the pigeons to fly, temporary fog either.

When weather forecast is announcing strong magnetic and solar disturbances (solar flares), it is better not to contest. Unfortunately, these anomalies often occur in good weather. Training pigeons is also not a good idea in these conditions.

As you can see, it is not an activity that can be done without a serious and detailed knowledge you can access right here: COMPLETE professional guide on racing pigeons for everyone.