Thursday, November 30, 2006

The Painted Pigeons

Around this time of year in the Costa Blanca and Murcia, you will see flocks of brightly coloured pigeons circling round, this is not just the whim of the owners to tart them up a bit, but they are painted in individual owners colour schemes to participate in a sport, not racing, but the sport of being amorous. The male pigeon is trained from the age of about three months to have the staying power of a long and intense courtship. At the start of the competition up to 80 cocks are released to fly around then a hen pigeon is released under a tree- any kind of tree, and the cock birds all arrive and make up to her. The hen is trained to be an expert in evading their attentions and will hide in trees, veer away while in flight and get up to all sorts of tricks. The competition takes place over 6 days and the winner is the the male pigeon that has spent the most time in the the air with the female and the most time in courtship on the ground. The referee totals up points by watching the proceedings and at the end of the week comes up with a winner.

Walkie talkies are used to pinpoint the flocks whereabouts, the Murcia club use a microlite to monitor the proceedings and when Benidorm hosted the National championships in 1997 they hired a helicopter to track the birds.

There are area competitions which progress to the national championships and the winner can be worth up to 30,000 euros.

Since moving to the campo in 2011 we have found that some people actually use whole houses as a pigeon loft, living in the town and coming out to the campo house to tend their pigeons.  

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