Pigeons and Today's Technology

Someone once told me our sport is dying because our youth are into computers and today’s technology, and the birds cannot compete with computers and today’s technology.

 I say if you can’t beat them join them. It is today’s technology that is going to save our sport.

I would like to tell true story my father told me about when he was growing up, and the technology of the time, a farm tractor. My father was born in 1933 and grew up on vegetable farm in Spokane WA. My father would tell me how hard it was growing up working in the vegetable fields as a child; when you got out of school for the summer in those days you worked. Dad would talk about how my grandpa used horse and plow in the vegetables fields and how attached and important working horses were to my grandpa. Back in those days vegetables were locally grow and sold at market, grocery stores was not the way back then.

In the late 1940’s my dad had a friend in high school whose dad worked at tractor dealer ship so my father got the idea of having his friend dad bring out demo tractor to work the vegetable fields. When they showed up by surprise with the demo tractor it really up set my grandpa, those plow horses where really special to my grandpa and he had no desire to change, so he chewed my dad butt in front his friend and his friend’s dad. Embarrassed my dad and hurt his feeling, my dad was only trying to do good.

Moral of the story, three weeks later my grandfather bought the tractor and nobody was allowed to touch his tractor, the tractor was the technology of the time. I tell this story because this is where we are at with pigeon racing and today’s technology. I know the electronic clocks have been big change to our sport, but with today’s technology our sport is severely lacking with what today’s technology has to offer.

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Doves. You really should call them racing doves.

There’s a stigma attached to pigeon. People think pigeons are dirty,” he said. Michielli owns Silver Wings Racing, which is home to more than 100 carefully selected and bred doves. They coo and fluff their feathers as he moves carefully between nesting boxes, checking for eggs, looking for newly hatched chicks, making sure everyone is OK.

Every night, he grabs “a beverage” and goes to check on the doves.

The doves act like they expect him. They don’t panic when he walks by. They’re simply perched in their little nesting boxes or walking around on the floor, cooing. And cooing.

His loft is a converted trailer that’s been hauled over from the West Side where a pigeon racing club used it. On its side is a painted commemoration of Geronimo – a famous World War II carrier pigeon who carried 81 messages on 30 combat missions – perhaps giving Michielli’s pigeons something to live up to.

“Homing pigeons were used in the war, before radio communications got real good,” Michielli said. “And not just any old dove can do what these guys do. They are bred to come home.”

So how exactly do they find their way home? Michielli said some believe the pigeons can smell their way, or that they use magnetic lines in the earth for navigation.

“None of it is proven,” Michielli said. “I think they have photographic memories. I think they see something they recognize and that’s the way they go.”

But think about this: For the longest races, 600 miles, the doves – all from different lofts – spend the night before in a truck being driven to a location such as, say, northern Oregon. They may never have been there before. The next morning, the doves will be released together, then circle in big, beautiful swoops, wings flapping, as they gain height. First they fly together and then, suddenly, they begin to split off in smaller groups headed home to their individual lofts. They have a day to complete the race.