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Science Is Observation And Everyone Can Learn How To Observe


In my previous article I promised to write an article about the orientation system of our racing pigeon. Actually, that is a basic cornerstone of our hobby. Because I知 not a scientist by profession, I知 not going to ask you if I知 right regarding the things I observed. So, I知 going to tell you what Hubert Land and I observed with our own eyes. Hubert has experimented for many years in this field. What I want you to do, if you are interested, is to write down your own observations on a piece of paper. Put it away. Read it again later on. I知 sure your own observations will surprise you. And dare to write a few lines about it here in 展inning. It痴 about how the orientation system of the pigeon works. Then we will know why what we do is right or wrong.


For hundreds of years scientists tried to locate the orientation system of wild birds, Monarch butterflies, salmon and racing pigeons. They did research on subjects like smell, sight, sun compass, earth magnetic field, sun storms, etc. And almost all scientists conclude that they were not able to solve the problem and that there has to be something else.


To race pigeons successfully you need to be interested in how the orientation system possibly might work. How you could influence it in a positive way. What are the negative influencing factors? Finally you take the decision. You basket for a race and trust your birds into the hands of the people of your organization you have chosen yourself for the job. And you wait for the things that happen. In the end it is a sport, this hobby of ours, isn稚 it?


In our sport it matters which pigeon homes the fastest. Normally those are pigeons of good origin and quality. Well trained. Well taken care of and well fed. And living in a good loft. And some motivation as an extra. Maybe something else. But it comes up to the pigeon that chooses the correct path for home in a straight line right after its release. Normally that pigeon will win the race. Apart from some other things. But you understand my point. It is all about fast and correct orientation. And about the things that are influencing it. Positive or negative. But above all we are interested in creating the right conditions for the existence of the orientation system. To have pigeons that will win. Can this be arranged?


All life on earth started with the light coming from the sun. The light, a better phrase is light spectrum, is built up from several elements that influence all around us and ourselves too. One of those elements is ultra violet. Ultra violet can be dangerous and nature has created several barriers that act as filters.


The ozone layer eliminates normally all of the dangerous ultra violet-c from the light spectrum ending up on the Earth痴 surface. Scientists are worried about the holes in the ozone layer allowing ultra violet-c can do damage to life on Earth.


Then, there is a second filter that is of great influence to our sport: clouds. The clouds influence positively or negatively the ultra violet-b. If clouds are thick ultra violet cannot get through. In case of high, white clouds it is even more positive because they reflect the ultra violet light.


There is a third filter influencing the last part of the ultra violet, the a. This is the light itself. When the intensity of the light lessens there is no ultra violet a present.


A couple of years ago Hubert Land did an interesting experiment. As we all know, wild pigeons hide their nests as well as possible from raptors. And if they can find it, they chose a dark, hidden spot for the nest. By coincidence, a couple of wild pigeons made a nest in Hubert痴 barn. And one day Hubert exchanged the eggs for a pair out of his best breeding couple.


The wild pigeons were brought up in Hubert痴 breeding loft where the sun has entrance from all sides. And the youngsters of his best breeding pair were brought up in the dark attic of his barn. One of the young wild pigeons was not handled at all and when let out it left right away for the woods. But the nestmate trained normally with his racing pigeons and acted like one. In the meantime, the wild pigeons reared the young racing pigeons.


One night, Hubert caught the youngsters of his best breeding pair in the barn and single tossed them with the wild pigeon 20 kilometers from his home. Only the youngster of the wild pigeons returned. He also returned from 90 kilometers.


What is the use of this story to you? It痴 all about observation and adding one to one. Hubert痴 breeding loft has sun into it from all directions. Sun penetrates all day into every nest box. In the top of the barn it is the other way around. For me one thing is clear about this experiment. Light, its composition and its intensity are of a certain influence on the forming and functioning of the orientation system. Pigeons brought up in this circumstances home easier. Even a wild one.


I have observed that sunlight plays a role in the orientation process. When I知 tossing birds I always cover the baskets up with an old blanket so I can transport the birds as quietly as possible to the spot I want to release them from. The basket top has openings to give free sight to the birds in it.


I now ask the readers to try and see if you observe what I have. When you take the basket that is covered up with a blanket from your car, place it in a spot from where the birds can observe the surrounding skies well. Let them rest for a while and then remove the blanket. Now watch the birds carefully. What you will observe is the starting up and the working of the orientation system. It is easy to write about, but this is what everyone should be able to observe when the situation is right: lots of sunshine and the birds have had the opportunity to develop the system right when they were nestlings. Maybe you will say: 典his I saw before. It is not that very special. But why has no one written about it yet?


Okay. In the beginning you will observe the pigeons sit still in the basket. But after a few moments you will observe some pigeons will stare short and intently up into the sky. Then more will follow all looking into different directions. This continues for a while until it stops. Then, suddenly one starts walking around in the basket and soon all are doing the very same thing. The process I describe here takes about a couple of minutes. Not much longer. If this is the case open the basket and they will fly straight home.


Pigeons will tell you if the situation is right. So you will have to learn to observe your birds. Know they are 斗ocal signals. On the way home the weather can be totally different. This you know by experience. The modern fancier in this does his homework and checks the Internet on the line of flight with regard to the weather.

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Steven van Breemen