This weekend the Christchurch Young Bird National Pigeon Race gets underway, the biggest event on the pigeon race calendar for Young Bird Racing. It is held every two years, with the Auckland equivalent being held in the years between.
This year they are flying from Hastings – which could be an interesting race because of the expected tricky weather being predicted.
This year also marks the 40th anniversary of the organisation. The very first race was a Teams race of three birds per team, which also was a tricky event from Marton, as no birds were home on the day. To keep the flyers interested at the evening workout they had a bird auction which included a number of flyers from the North Island who had come down for the big event.
Today’s racing is much easier for the birds as they have electronic timing, instead of the old race rubber and clock system. The birds are recorded as soon as they cross the timing pads which are in front of the bob wires where they enter the loft.
Next year they are due to fly from South for two years and then North again for two years. When they fly South they usually fly national from Invercargill, which can be either a quick fly with a belting Southerly chasing pushing them home, or a very hard race because of difficult weather in between race points. Because they fly this event at the end of the Young Bird Season, some flyers are very worried about the opening of duck shooting season.
The organisation says it is a good hobby for families to get involved with as the birds themselves are a clean pet, just a bit of dusting now an then with powder for lice, if they hurt themselves while out flying they recover very quickly and they seem to have a very good immune system and heal fast.
– With thanks to Kerry Harris for writing this article
Photo: Tony Wilson and his partner Kim Seafield Lofts displaying their winning bird for the Great Barrier Island race in 2006.
Below – The most sort after certificate Flyers seek to have.