Breeds in fo­cus

Shooting Times & Country Magazine - - CONTENTS -

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

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