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Move up the eye-popping order of Polish pigeon lovers

Michal Trojczak opens one of his many cages and proudly watches over 70 dusty blue pigeons fly over snow-covered fields in eastern Poland. “My bird is an athlete,” says a 42-year-old pigeon enthusiast who inherited his passion for bird breeding from his father and grandfather. Poland boasts Europe’s largest community of homing pigeon breeders and a series of international competition trophies, but lags behind other countries in breeding birds of higher value pedigree.

Trojczak said he turned professional and teamed up with friends after retiring from the army a few years ago as one of those who decided to do something about it. Together, they bought a Belgian pigeon with a prestigious pedigree and invested thousands of euros, including only € 11,000 ($ 12,400) for the offspring of a bird called Porsche 911. “He has provided us with a lot of satisfaction and money,” informs AFP. Now he wants an empty limit for Polish pigeon lovers, who he believes will rise to rival their Belgian and Dutch counterparts within 10 years.

Bird of communication

Pigeon lofts are part of the Polish landscape, especially in Silesia’s mining areas, where pigeon breeding has historic roots and birds enjoy near-mythical conditions. Even after spending a day underground, it’s common to see miners appearing in the sun and scanning the sky in search of a winged friend. Birds hundreds of kilometers away from the loft of the pigeon can detect the Earth’s magnetic field and turn to the sun, so they can find a way home.

Flying in the wind can reach speeds of 120 km / h (74 mph). After Poland regained independence in 1918, pigeon use, breeding and racing were regulated by the Ministry of Armed Forces due to the strategic importance of bird communication skills. The Nazis immediately banned pigeon breeding after occupying Poland in 1939, forcing enthusiasts to start over after the war.

Number strength

“With over 40,000 members, we are Europe’s largest organization, founded over 100 years ago,” said Krzysztof Kawaler, head of the Polish Homing Pigeon Breeder Association. France and Belgium, where the fantasy of pigeons is deeply rooted, have about 11,000 and 13,000 breeders, respectively.

“We bring back the most prizes at the international convention,” Kawaler told AFP at the Katowice trade fair in the heart of the Silesia region. In these tournaments, you don’t see pigeons gathering in one place, as athletes around the world do at the Olympics. Instead, all countries have their own local races, and pigeons are equipped with electronic rings to record flight times.

Results are calculated country-wide, using a factor that specifically takes into account the number of pigeons participating. According to Trojczak, Poland has so many breeders that it helps to improve their score. “But it doesn’t reflect the real value of pigeons,” he emphasizes, lamenting that Polish pigeon lovers are still considered amateurs in Western Europe.

Order

“In the Polish market, pigeons start at 250 zloty (about 55 euros) and sell for 4, 5, or 6000 zloty to those who participate in international tournaments,” veteran breeder Zbigniew Oleksiak told AFP. rice field. However, in Western Europe, prices start at around € 200, but can soar, like the Belgian pigeon Armand, which won € 1.25 million at auction in 2019.

The buyer was Chinese, as was the proud new owner of another Belgian bird, New Kim, which sold for € 1.6 million the following year. Like racehorses, it is the pedigree, or bird family tree, that is important to buyers, especially those from Asia.

Long time

For Trojczak, especially spring and summer days are long. “We need to shape the pigeons, monitor their health and train them to feed them well,” he says. “When you have to prepare a bird for a race, sometimes I get up and run at 4am and won’t finish until 9pm.” He currently has about 100 pigeons a year, 100-2,500. It sells for a euro price and can be “very comfortable to live in combination with my military pension”. But it’s not just about making money, breeding pigeons is more than anything else a loving job. “Each pigeon can be traced back three to four generations … I know the family tree better than my own,” he says with a laugh. -AFP

https://www.kuwaittimes.com/polands-pigeon-fanciers-eye-moving-up-the-pecking-order/ Move up the eye-popping order of Polish pigeon lovers

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