Under normal circumstances racing pigeons return from a race at a heigth of approximately 250-300 meters. Wind direction and speed plays a very important role in the result of the race.
Headwinds are very difficult for racing pigeons. The birds are forced to fly low and face the danger of striking objects, such as wires, tree limbs and many other obstacles they may encounter. It has long been known that only the best quality and best conditioned racing pigeon will face a strong head wind and stay the course in order to get home. Pigeon fanciers like the head wind for their birds. However a headwind can be very dangerous for pigeons. Many birds that have not been properly prepared are lost under these conditions. Irregardless of how well bred a bird is it will not perform if it is not properly trained and conditioned. If a headwind is accompanied with low cloud navigation becomes difficult and many birds stray off course. This results in the birds having to fly a far greater distance than the birds were originally intended to fly. We then see that because of the extra kilometers being flown the average speed drops down to below 1100 mpm. Difficult races like this are not needed early in the season. Under conditions like these convoyers often report that the birds took off in the wrong direction. It is not uncommon to see conditions like these accompanied by rain early in the season resulting in a smash race.
When the wind is behind the birds any bird can win the race. These races are mostly decided by the speed at which the bird is clocked. These races are called "Blow Homes". In Holland most of times there is a southwest tailwind and this wind creates some very fast velocities. The best bred or best prepared birds do not necessarily win these kind of races.
Sidewinds from the east or from the west. Repeating the old adage should be sufficient to explain the East Wind. "The East Wind is neither good for Man nor Beast".
Of the four winds the west wind is the preferred wind. Light west winds help the birds along irregardless of the direction the birds are flying. The best races can occur during light west winds. The pigeon that wins under these conditions has earned his/her keep. West winds of 50 km/h or more make for difficult racing. Many birds are lost under such conditions. Because of the strength of these winds the birds are continuously being blown off course. This requires the bird to constantly use its navigation system. The bird has to keep adjusting its course thereby creating a "zig-zag" effect rather than flying in a straight line. Birds that are not equipped with a properly functioning navigation system experience a very difficult time under these conditions. Many will not "Find Their Way" home until the winds subside.
Great care and consideration should be given to the release of pigeons on this kind of day. It does not often happen. These type of days are most likely to occur during the warm summer months. Careful consideration has to be given to the temperature level on such days. If the temperatures are extremely high the possibility of not releasing should be strongly considered. High temperatures and no wind can cause the bird to easily become disorientated and lost.
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