Q: Looking at your 1999 old bird race results I see that your hens greatly outnumber your cocks. Were the cocks flown? Saved for later races? In short what system did you fly for the '99 old bird system?

In my part of the country we start our old bird races either the last Sunday of April or at the latest the first week in May. There are no leaves on the trees at that time and the weather conditions are normally damp with headwinds. Not exactly good conditions for widowhood cocks. In fact, it can set them back terribly.

I therefore fly my birds the first 2 weeks sitting on eggs. In this nest position with the cold weather the hens are definitely superior. If all goes well, and the hens are performing well, then I tend to keep flying the hens on a double widowhood system. If we get a couple of nasty hard races off the bat, I then fly the cocks when things improve and let the hens rest. The hens will then again do well towards the end of the season -- so it really depends from one year to the next.

The last couple of years conditions were very good for the hens, but that could change drastically this year again. I always play it by ear, fly the birds on the nest to begin with, then single or double widowhood and sometimes on the nest for the last week or two again. There is no set pattern in my approach to flying pigeons.

In case you are interested, the same thing holds for my feeding. There is never a set way. I change from week to week and day to day. That's really what makes pigeon flying fun for me -- to constantly adjust. My methods would drive a lot of other people crazy and people close to me that see me change constantly and remate birds during the season just shake their heads. But I enjoy it and this way I don't get bored and neither do the birds.