A nice article on pigeon racing in today’s Gray Lady. I didn’t see any obvious errors (I’ll let Steve be the final judge on that) and the tone isn’t ridiculously patronizing. I heave a sigh of relief for all concerned. Some quotes and pix:
A group of fliers stood in the hallway at the wake, telling their best Frank Viola stories. Remember how his birds flew missions for the Army Signal Corps in World War II? And how about the time he turned down $20,000 from a Taiwanese breeder for one of his champion pigeons?
Mr. Mantagas was sitting on the roof of his two-story house in Coney Island, the ground floor of which he rents to the Viola club. Of the 10 pigeons he entered â€” most fliers enter 5 to 20 birds in a race â€” he was favoring a blue bar hen wearing the band number 511.
That bird, he said, had been â€œsitting on eggs,â€ a strategy that involves putting a handful of fake plastic eggs in the nest of a female pigeon in the days before a race. If a bird thinks it has been separated from its unborn chicks, the theory goes, it will fly back faster to the coop.
Soon his favorite bird, a blue-checkered cock, appeared on the horizon, its wings pumping. Mr. Fasano reached into a crate at his feet to grab a chico, a bright white, non-racing bird that fliers use like a flare to attract the attention of incoming pigeons, and threw it into the air. Noticing the chico, the cock flew toward the roof and landed on the edge of the coop, a few feet from the electronic timer that would record its return.
Mr. Fasano took a few gingerly steps toward the bird, shaking a plastic tub of birdseed. â€œThatâ€™s a baby, go inside,â€ he said softly. The timer beeped, registering the birdâ€™s arrival. 13:02:11. A little more than five hours from Somerset. It was a good time, maybe a winning one. After a few more birds returned, Mr. Fasano jumped into his car and set off for the Viola club, a few exits down the Belt Parkway.
Jeez, the fun stuff in Brooklyn just keeps piling up. Let’s see – I could hawk starlings with a merlin or parrots with a coops, but the shorthairs would not be happy. I guess visiting is the best bet…