Breeds in focus
Pigeons are the oldest of all domesticated birds, descended from the wild rock dove. They have been used to carry messages since the days of the ancient Egyptians and were also employed by the Greeks and Romans. The modern racing pigeon is a descendant of the original homing pigeon, bred for its speed and its ability 86 • SHOOTING TIMES & COUNTRY MAGAZINE to return to its home loft. Even to the unpractised eye, a racing pigeon looks sleek and athletic, especially compared with the feral pigeons of our towns and cities.
The first pigeon race over 150km was held in Belgium in 1818, and similar races were taking part in England by 1875. Yearling birds will fly races of up to 480km, with older birds up to 800km: many will cover that distance in a day. In the UK, races may be up to 1,600km.
The racing pigeon is sleeker than the feral birds we shoot