As I started to leave Pecker’s building I could hear about a hundred pigeons take off from the pigeon coop located on Pecker’s roof. There are two or three pigeon coops on every block in our neighborhood some are on the roof of a building and some coops were located in a back yard. In most cases a building maybe falling apart but the pigeon coops were a thing of beauty.
These pigeons were not rats. The rats are pigeons you see looking for food in the streets. The street pigeons usually have gray and black feathers in a variety of designs a telltale sign that they are rats is their “red eyes”. The way I understand it, based on what I overheard from the pigeon guys, is that they call the street pigeons rats because they are the lowest of the low in the pigeon world. You don’t want any rats in your coop mingling with your pure breeds.
Mostly men were into flying pigeons. There are men who are into breeding the racers and others who fly a flock of pigeons. The racers are specifically breed homing pigeons that find their way to back to their home coop from long distances. It is unbelievable that a bird would fly 20, 30 or 40 miles and come back home without resting. Many of these men had special tags attached to the leg of the bird that would clock into a timing machine to record the time your bird came home and entered your coop.
Homing pigeons were also used to deliver messages during the war from behind enemy lines. If a soldier would happen see a pigeon during battle he would try to shoot the pigeon out of the sky and intercept the message it was carrying to the enemy. Meanwhile the benefit of having the fastest pigeon in any competition involved bragging rights of having the fastest bird in the neighborhood. It was like having a thoroughbred horse; you would then breed your top racer and sell the offspring for top dollar. But the race mostly involved a substantial cash $$$ pool for the winner of the race. This sport involved cut throat competition.
On the other hand the men and older teenagers who were raising pigeons to fly in a flock enjoyed a different kind of competitive sport. These people would have up to two hundred pigeons of every verity in their coop. Some of the Pigeon breeds included Copperheads, Tiplets, Nuns, Teagas, Capuchnes, Tumblers, Persian High Flyers, Rollers, Pure Whites and Fan Tails. This flock sport objective was as follows; first you would feed your pigeon’s very little food before each flight. Your would release your flock and urge them to fly by creating a loud noise with metal pot covers, screams, whistles and then wave both arms wildly while holding two white empty pillow cases. All or most of your pigeons would take flight usually lead buy the Persian High Flyers. Meanwhile the Fan Tails, who do not fly well, would stay on the ground or roof top close to the coop.
All the other pigeons will do their best to keep up with the Persian High Flyers. Once your flock was getting higher circling wider and wider around the home base where the coop is located, other flocks located within several blocks will also take flight. The purpose of this sport is to encourage two or three flocks of pigeon to collide and intermingle into one large super flock. Then the fun begins, each coop involved will now try to lour there pigeons back to their home base. This is done by whistling a familiar tune and shaking a can of pigeon corn feed. It’s a call for your pigeons to come home for dinner. Meanwhile the flying pigeons hear the signal and see the Fan Tails pigeons on the ground eating some of the food put out by the handlers. Then the one super flock of pigeons starts to break up into three individual flocks. The Tumblers will start to descend quickly by tumbling and look like they are falling out of the sky. The Tumblers are now in a race to get to the food as fast as possible and feed before the other pigeons get there. The Tumblers are followed by the Copper Heads, Nuns, Pure Whites, Persian High Flyers in a race with the others to get back to the coop for dinner.
The object of the sport and the challenge of the game is to capture as many disoriented pigeons as possible and hold them for ransom. Generally what happens in a rush to go back to their coop for dinner, some pigeons inadvertently land on a neighboring coop where traps are waiting to capture them so that they can be ransomed for cash or other pigeons in trade if their rightful owner feels that they are worth the cost for their return.
I would like to get my own pigeon coop some day even though my mother would kill me. My mother hates the pigeon sport. You can well imagine when she works all day hand washing clothing, underwear, socks, or what ever and then she hangs her wash out on our clothesline to dry. By the time a super flock of up to 500 pigeons complete their flight some of our garments will undoubtedly be soiled with pigeon poop. It just drives her and all the woman in the neighborhood crazy when that happens. It is also common knowledge that these flocks of pigeons have on occasion pooped on many bystanders. So you really should not look up when these birds are in flight.
Roger told me several times that we could build a coop on our roof. I really would like to partner up with Roger some day and build a small coop with a couple of dozen birds. Maybe my mother and the landlord would not notice such a smal flock of birds. I realized that I was daydreaming again. I started thinking that I better get home I’m already late for dinner. My mother must be tired by now calling out for me to come home from our second story window.