Thursday, November 3, 2011

Homing Pigeons- Homeschooling With Animals

My dad has been racing and breeding pigeons for about 20 years now.  Daeton has always been fascinated with the pigeons.  From when he was an toddler and my dad let him hold an egg, while it hatched, to him bring a box of baby pigeons to 'show and tell' in preschool.  Daeton is always quick to show friends the loft when they are at my dad's house too.  So, it comes as no surprise, besides that it didn't happen earlier, that Daeton now has his own loft at our house.

It is a small cage that they hooked up to the side of our fence in the back yard.  They put a long table in front of it for the birds to be able to sit on.  This is so they can hang out by the loft.  Once they get a little older and know to go straight in when they get home the table will be removed.

They started with three birds that were a gray/blue color and a few days later my dad gave him three more that were white.  All six of them were quiet young.  Old enough to be away from the nest but not really knowing how to fly yet.  Daeton is learning how to feed and water them, how to let them loose and how to whistle to get them to come in and land.  In the first week he lost one pigeon (it just never made it back to the loft).  My dad said this was probably due to Daeton letting them out so late in the day.  Pigeons can't see good at night and crash into things like power lines or get eaten by owls and hawks.

Right now when they are released they come back in a few hours later.  Daeton is teaching them to be used to being in a crate (special one for the birds) too.  Last week they were crated a few times for about an hour and released.  A few days ago Daeton and my dad crated them, drove them a few blocks away, and released them.  They will take the pigeons farther and farther away and get them used to finding their way home.

Taking care of them is a daily job.  Daeton has to check their food and water in the morning and release them after they see they have food but before they eat it (so they are trained to come home to eat).

He has names for some of them and was worried today when he thought one was grabbed by a hawk (4 were flying in a circle for a while and we didn't see the fifth).  The kids had enrichment classes today but when we got home the fifth one was in the cage.

Loosing them when racing often happens, even under the best circumstances.  This will be another life-lesson.  Some get lost in races, get eaten or even follow a group and go to someone else's loft. .

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