Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Homing Pigeons...

Pigeons are often used in the training of bird dogs. They are especially useful in breaking young dogs, because 1) they are cheap 2) they can be re-used (ie, they "home" to their place of first flight) 3) they produce a high amount of scent 4) they breed like rabbits, with little effort on the part of the trainer 5) they're inexpensive to rear and keep 6) they smell like a game bird, and most pointing dogs will point them readily. The downside of pigeons include 1) they don't come off the ground very fast, so there is a danger that a young dog can catch them 2) dogs can sometimtes get "stale" if exposed to pigeons repeatedly 3) excessive use of pigeons tends to promote "crowding" or "creeping" if the trainer is not careful. But, dollar for dollar, it's hard to beat the pigeon as a useful training tool for bird dogs. I am fortunate in my area that we have a large Amish population... the Amish kids in the community are happy to catch pigeons in their barns and sell them to me for a couple of buck a bird. In addition to our homing pigeons we keep at the house, these "Amish" birds are especially nice for young dogs because they tend to be a bit more "wild" and less likely to stay on the ground when placed out. (I think the homers get too "tuned in" to the free meals always available at home so they tend not to fly out so quickly.) Another advantage of pigeons is that they are very amenable to being launched in remote launchers. I like using launchers with young dogs, partly because I can do some bird work without any assistance (it's tough to check-cord a puppy into a bird and then try to get in front to flush a bird all at the same time!) I use the launchers sparingly, however, because dogs will quickly become stale on birds continuously being launched from remote launchers.

Anyway, what got me on the topic of pigeons was an interesting news article recently... seems that pigeons are a very versatile tool, and can be used for many different kinds of objectives! Check this out...

It's a "special delivery" for some inmates at a prison in Brazil! Not from guards, but from pigeons! Security guards discovered that prisoners had tamed pigeons living on the roof. The birds were then trained to deliver drugs and cell phones, from friends and relatives outside the prison!
Happy pigeon hunting!

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