Case of the mysterious pigeon release is solvedWORTHINGTON — The Worthington pigeon drop-off mystery has been solved, with help from area pigeon racers.
WORTHINGTON — The Worthington pigeon drop-off mystery has been solved, with help from area pigeon racers.
The Twin City Concourse pigeon racing club was responsible for the nearly 1,500 pigeons released on Aug. 25 and Sept. 1 at the Tru-Shine Truck Wash in Worthington, according to club secretary Paul Rudolph.
Worthington is used as a race drop-off site about once every five years, because of its 150-mile distance to the Twin Cities, Rudolph said.
The pigeons are transported via a club-owned tractor trailer. The birds are placed in crates equipped with air holes, food and water.
Pigeon racer Mike Ludolph said the birds aren’t let go until the weather is clear, both at the release site and the home base. Once released, it’s rare for the birds to get lost on the flight back.
“Most of the time they’ll come home,” Ludolph said. “That may take them a few days, but they’ll come home.”
When the pigeons are about one week old, a lifelong computer chip is banded around each bird’s leg to track it on flights.
Once the birds reach their home base at the end of the race, Ludolph said a scanner reads the micro chips and determines the winner.
“It records the band number (as well as) the day, hour, minute and second that the bird comes over the scanner,” Ludolph explained.
Since no prize money is given, pigeon racing is strictly a hobby. The owner of the winning bird gets “a trophy and bragging rights,” Rudolph said.
According to Sport Development Manager for the American Racing Pigeon Union Deone Roberts, “Races in our organization are not for money, they’re for diplomas.”
People get involved because they love animals, she added.
“Working with the animals gives them a challenge they appreciate,” Roberts said. “To have a good racing bird, you have to have excellence in care.”
The cost associated with the hobby can vary from hundreds to thousands of dollars.
“You can do it very conservatively where it hardly costs anything,” Ludolph said. Or, he added, one racing pigeon can go for as much as $300,000.
The pigeons are raised indoors in areas called “lofts.” Roberts estimated the average beginner’s loft to require an investment of about $1,500.
About 100 pigeons are kept in one loft, but Roberts said some owners only raise about 10.
Roberts said there are about 600 to 700 pigeon racing clubs in the country, with about 10,000 members at any given time.
The next Worthington pigeon release date is scheduled for Sept. 29, as part of the Wisconsin River Valley Futurity. Details may be found online at www.pigeon.org/raceevents.htm.
Daily Globe Reporter Kayla Strayer may be reached at 376-7322.