No fowl play in pigeon racing

Doug Chadwick would like to clear the air about homing pigeons.

Doug Chadwick is one of a few local residents who race pigeons for sport and for the opportunity to own the special birds. The Mid-Island Racing Pigeon society is looking for members and interested persons should contact current members or visit their website.

Doug Chadwick is one of a few local residents who race pigeons for sport and for the opportunity to own the special birds. The Mid-Island Racing Pigeon society is looking for members and interested persons should contact current members or visit their website.

Doug Chadwick would like to clear the air about homing pigeons.

“They’ve got a bad rap because of the feral pigeons, but they’re not like that at all,” he said. “They’re hugely intelligent. There were lots of pigeon heroes from the war.”

Chadwick, a past president and founding member of the Mid-Island Racing Pigeon society, has raised pigeons since he was 10 years old.

“It is the longest running sport in the world; it goes back to the Roman Empire. Once you get in, it’s like anything else, you get bit by the bug, it’s hard not to do,” he said. “It’s exciting for me to see them come whipping in, trap them and then find out how they did against everyone else.”

Chadwick cares for about 72 homing pigeons in a loft outside his Chemainus home. Approximately 50 of those make up his racing fleet; the others serve as stock for breeding. Each one has their own name, like Bella or one of his prize racers, ‘Fred the Red.’

“Most people don’t name them … they don’t really respond to them,” he said.

Sometimes referred to as ‘the poor man’s horse racing,’ pigeon racing involves clocking the velocity of the time it takes for a pigeon to return to its owner’s home from a designated release point, which, for the local racing club, is usually in Campbell River. Because there are pigeon owners across Vancouver Island, the winner is determined not by who gets home first, but by whose pigeon reaches the fastest velocity (metres per minute).

Each pigeon wears an electronic band that is scanned in at the beginning of the race and clocked when they reach the loft.

“It works with a GPS now, it’s a lot easier,” Chadwick said. “Before we used to have to do the measurements all by hand.”

A volunteer truck driver transports the birds to the release point. There can be anywhere from 200-300 pigeons released at one time.

“When they take off out of the truck, it really is a sight,” Chadwick said.

Once a year, the society runs a race from Bella Bella, a journey that usually takes the birds approximately six hours.

“Sometimes there’s trophies involved,” Chadwick said.

With limited numbers of racers and increasing natural predators, pigeon racing is becoming an aging sport, Chadwick said.

“It’s getting tougher and tougher to have them now with the bylaws, more and more people aren’t allowed to have them,” he added. “People… think that they’re rats and there’s a lot of outcry. They’re wrong.”

Chadwick said it’s a great sport for anyone looking to be involved with a great group and have the opportunity to race their pets.

“People become very attached to them, they become pets,” he said. “I go out in my loft every day and spend hours out there.

The Mid-Island Racing Pigeon society will be holding its annual show, where members will bring their best stock to be judged on conformation. The show is open to the public.For more information on the society and how to get involved, visit http://midislandracingpigeonsociety.com/.

Just Posted

(File photo)
Poverty reduction survey identifies 10 poverty themes

Poverty reduction plan will be finalized in July 2021

Nanaimo-Ladysmith MP Paul Manly says he has no intentions of leaving the Green Party. (House of Commons image)
Island Green MPs have “no intention” of leaving the party after ‘heartbreaking’ departure

Manly, May only remaining Green MPs after Jenica Atwin left for the Liberals over internal disputes

New COVID-19 cases on Vancouver Island by local health area for the week of May 30-June 5. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control image)
COVID-19 cases drop again almost everywhere on Vancouver Island

Nanaimo had four new cases last week, down from 22 the week before

Justine Keefer’s Cedar Elementary School Grade 6/7 class put together a student paper, as part of a school project. Pictured here Andrew Gregory, left, Felix Leduc, Addison Armstrong, Lucia Walker and Anise Dick. (Karl Yu/News Bulletin)
Cedar Elementary School students create their own newspaper

Grade 6/7 class publishes Wolf Pack News as part of language arts and social studies

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Darren Campbell’s truck (pictured) was stolen when he stopped to check on a car in a ditch on Cowichan Bay Road on Monday morning. (Facebook photo)
Vancouver Island Good Samaritan’s truck stolen in nasty trick

‘Try to be a Good Samaritan and my $20,000 truck gets stolen right under my nose’

The Kamloops Indian Residential School is photographed using a drone in Kamloops, B.C., Monday, June, 14, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former school earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Communities grapple with what to do with former residential and day schools

Some tear them down as a tool to help healing, others repurpose them as tools for moving forward

Creative handmade signs abound at the June 13 Tofino rally for old growth trees. (Nora O’Malley photo)
VIDEO: Tofino stands in solidarity for Fairy Creek Blockades

Over 150 supporters attend rally hosted by Friends of Clayoquot Sound

FILE – Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials watching U.K.’s Delta variant struggles, ‘may need to slow’ restart plan

Studies show that one dose of vaccine is only 33 per cent effective in preventing B.1.617.2 spread

RCMP Const. Shelby Patton is shown in this undated handout photo. RCMP say that Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over on Saturday morning in Wolseley, east of Regina. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, RCMP
Pair charged in Saskatchewan Mountie’s death make first court appearance

Const. Shelby Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over Saturday morning

David and Collet Stephan leave for a break during an appeal hearing in Calgary on Thursday, March 9, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol
Appeal Court rejects stay for Alberta couple facing third trial in son’s death

Pair accused in their earlier trials of not seeking medical attention for their son sooner

Highway notices like this come down effective June 14. Public health restrictions on non-essential travel and commercial operation have hit local businesses in every corner of B.C. (B.C. government)
Province-wide travel back on in B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan

Gathering changes include up to 50 people for outdoor events

Calgary Stampeders’ Jerome Messam leaps over a tackle during second half CFL western semifinal football action in Calgary, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
CFL football will be played this summer in Canada

Governors vote unanimously in favour to start the ‘21 campaign on Aug. 5

Most Read