Q: I have a small team (4) of young birds I'm racing this fall. It is a small team because I've sold my house and will be moving after YB season. These birds are entered in special races. I noticed a week ago, while the birds are loft flying, they will land about a quarter of a mile away in a recently mowed grass field. They will stay there for 2 to 20 minutes before taking off and flying around my yard. If I spook them up from one site they merely fly farther and land again at a greater distance than before. It will be difficult to continue to chase them up as it is a great distance from home and the landowner will likely be peturbed if I trespass on his property. I have salt, mineral and grit in the loft. Any suggestions how I can break these birds from this habit? Is it something I should be concerned with for training/flying purposes? Thank you!

What you need to do is get some common ordinary clay or soil and put that in the loft for the birds. I regularly give my birds a bowl of fresh clay at least once or twice a week. I actually use a cut-off bottom from a 5 gallon plastic bucket to put my clumps of clay in. I understand that you are giving them grit and minerals and salt and all the supplements, but you will be surprised at how they will keep picking at the clay and how they will devour it. You could order yourself pickstone, which is baked clay from Europe, but I have found that the clay that is dug out from deep in the ground -- not the surface soil -- does a wonderful job of keeping them off the ground.

The real danger with your birds is that since they are going quite a ways from your loft into a field, they might find fertilizer which would then end up poisoning them. Birds that are poisoned by fertilizer will show black stools which is probably blood being passed. Also, their eyes will be pale, and that would be real dangerous.

Good luck!