Reservations on letting my young racers out for first time--Please Help!

Discussion in 'Pigeons and Doves' started by LamarshFish, May 19, 2017.

  1. LamarshFish

    LamarshFish Chillin' With My Peeps

    249
    191
    126
    Mar 26, 2015
    A bit of brief background: I got squeakers from good racing lines about 4 weeks ago, and at that time they were about 3-4 weeks old, so they're about 2 months old now. They are my first pigeons.

    I've fed them twice a day, about the amount they can consume in 15 mins, and each time I feed them I shake the can and blow a whistle, and they know what the can and whistle are now, I can tell by there reaction.

    They have one large aviary on the side my loft, and they use it a lot, and seem very familiar with their surroundings from that perspective. The front of my loft is where the trap door and bobs are, but there is no aviary on the front of my loft, so I built a temporary aviary there so they can learn the bob door and so they can get a front view from the loft and learn those surroundings as well. I put the temporary aviary on the front door every morning, and take it off each evening, and the pigeons use both aviaries throughout the day. They comfortably stand on the bob door's small landing platform, and go in and out of the door no problem.

    HOWEVER, my young racers are still quite afraid of me. They don't fly away or freak out when I go inside the loft, but if my hands get any closer than about 6" from them, they start squeaking and moving about, which I think is generally normal for pigeons. But, making matters perhaps worse, last night I got their leg bands in the mail which have my phone number on them (took some time for them to be made), and I decided to put them on my birds. The ONLY other time I've ever handled my birds was the day I got them, when I put their ID number bands (numbers 1-6 just to identify them) on their other leg. When I went to put my telephone number bands on the opposite leg of the ID band last night, they seemed pretty scared of me, and, although I was able to pick each one of them up and affix the other leg band on pretty quickly, each one of them not only squeaked when I did it, but also grunted/growled as well, and gave a bit of a struggle. When I put each back down after putting the leg band on, they seemed pretty scared, but they were fine, just seemed a bit rattled up. This morning, things seemed to be business as usual with them, not too scared of me, but a bit more wary perhaps than usual probably due to the leg banding last night.

    My question is, although I know my timing is fine (4 weeks in my loft) to let them out for the first time (not taking them far, literally just opening the loft door for them to exit and explore my yard as they please), do you think that the leg banding last night will cause problems? Will them being a bit more scared of me from banding them last night cause any issues? I already know to stay away from them when they're out of the loft exploring for the first time and avoid scaring them, and I plan on letting them out about 2.5 hours before dark, and I didn't feed them this morning, only gave them a few peanuts as treats, so they will be hungry tonight when I let them out.

    Do you think, in spite of what I said above, that it is still alright to go through with my plan to let them out for the first time tonight?

    Thanks!
     
  2. biophiliac

    biophiliac Chillin' With My Peeps Premium Member

    1,340
    1,973
    231
    Apr 22, 2016
    DeForest, WI
    I do, I DO!! I think their behavior is fine, more indignation than terror. You should pick them up once in a while so they become habituated to handling. A Healthy pigeon will squirm and resist some. Even when they are more tame they still move away a bit when a hand goes to grab them...unless they are sick. The fact that you were able to grab and band them without injury is very positive. I do not believe they will hold a grudge against the food bringer. Can´t wait to hear how they do. Hope others chime in with their experience.:D
     
  3. LamarshFish

    LamarshFish Chillin' With My Peeps

    249
    191
    126
    Mar 26, 2015
    That's good to hear. I banded them fairly quickly, and without injury for sure, but darn those little guys have gotten strong. I definitely notice a difference between my racers and the ferals I trap and use for dog training (live bird training, the pigeons are released and not harmed or killed). These 2 month old birds I have are noticeably stronger. Their wing muscles are strong enough to resist and push my hands around, it's very impressive. Speaking of which, and this is unrelated, but I do notice when they wake up from naps or are laying down for a long time, they stand up and stretch their wings just like humans would stretch, it's so cute.

    They are just now developing a love for peanuts, so I'm hoping I can tame them a bit more. They seem to HATE being handled.
     
  4. biophiliac

    biophiliac Chillin' With My Peeps Premium Member

    1,340
    1,973
    231
    Apr 22, 2016
    DeForest, WI
    Yes,(racers vs ferals) they are athletes. As they start to fly and develop their muscles you will see even more of a difference. They have to build muscle and endurance. They remind me of Thoroughbred horses, especially that pic you took of 4, each in his claimed box(put that on the pigeon pic thread when you have time:D). I will look for that stretching after nap when I get mine!

    I wish I could find some ferals to start out with, Racing Homers are not cheap. I really doubt they are very fearful of you. Have you got a sense now of how to hold them for inspection? Are you letting them out today?
     
  5. Hokum Coco

    Hokum Coco Overrun With Chickens

    3,313
    602
    306
    Dec 6, 2012
    New Brunswick,Canada
    Quote:
    LamarshFish
    My question is, do you think that the leg banding last night will cause problems? Racing pigeons in particular do not like to be handled period. Will them being a bit more scared of me from banding them last night cause any issues? No I didn't feed them this morning, only gave them a few peanuts as treats, Wise

    Do you think, that it is still alright to go through with my plan to let them out for the first time tonight? Yes... I would just release half of the flock at a time.
     
    biophiliac likes this.
  6. LamarshFish

    LamarshFish Chillin' With My Peeps

    249
    191
    126
    Mar 26, 2015
    I let them out Friday evening, about 3 hours before dark. I only let 3 of my 6 out, and let them walk out on their own volition. One of them stayed around the loft area just pecking at the ground and such, and eventually went back into my loft through the bob door. The other two first hung on a phone wire, then my roof, then took flight. I could watch as they learned to fly in a matter minutes. They would fly around the block for a while, then land back on my roof. They did this several times all evening, then did not come back that night. I left the door open all Friday night and Saturday and they did not come back. Saturday night I closed the loft door, and reopened it Sunday (today at 7am).

    I'm not sure what to make of it. Pretty big bummer, but i know it happens, I just wonder why. Now I'm concerned about letting my remaining 4 out (one of which was already out, but came back in).
     
  7. biophiliac

    biophiliac Chillin' With My Peeps Premium Member

    1,340
    1,973
    231
    Apr 22, 2016
    DeForest, WI
    OK, First it takes courage to let them out the first time. I don't see what you could have done differently. On the plus side, one of your first birds is successful 1st time out. Hope is not yet lost on the other 2 to get them back. I'm sure the experienced flyers will jump in to help you. If it was me I'd take a deep breath and build on my success, small as it is. I'd let the bird that returned out again, either alone or with another bird and hope for the best.

    PS You could consider taping the wings so they can't fly big at first, since your birds are obviously fearless.
     
    barn206 and Hokum Coco like this.
  8. Hokum Coco

    Hokum Coco Overrun With Chickens

    3,313
    602
    306
    Dec 6, 2012
    New Brunswick,Canada
    All homing pigeons are not created equal. I would not worry too much your birds still can hear your loft and in a perfect world should still return.
    If they do not they were poor genetic material and you are better off with out them.
    I would only let your grounded bird out for now until your confused birds return. Let him get acquainted with the surroundings he will serve as a role model for your remaining flock. If you see your lost pigeons let your grounded bird out on top of your loft to serve as a drop bird to entice your wayward birds back home. If you had done this while the confused birds were still on your roof I think you would have had a positive out come.

    Your bird that returned is safe now to let out anytime in my opinion for a loft flight.

    Rattling a feed can will definitely get their attention also.

    I would not give up hope yet there is still a very good chance your birds will return.
    This happens to all new loft start ups and usually ends with the return of the birds after 4 to 5 days.

    This is a method some fanciers employ to let there birds get used to trapping and prevent losses on their first excursions.

     
    Last edited: May 21, 2017
    biophiliac likes this.
  9. LamarshFish

    LamarshFish Chillin' With My Peeps

    249
    191
    126
    Mar 26, 2015
     
  10. biophiliac

    biophiliac Chillin' With My Peeps Premium Member

    1,340
    1,973
    231
    Apr 22, 2016
    DeForest, WI
    My only problem is that I don't know which of the remaining 4 was the one that was let out and returned.
    .
    Now this I see as unfortunate:rolleyes:.

    So you haven't let anyone out since Friday? If you open the trap, what are the odds 1st bird out is the experienced one?
     
    Last edited: May 21, 2017

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by