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Part 4

Character & Intelligence make up the class pigeon

In this article I will deal with a pigeon's character, and review some of the characteristics which have a definite influence. It is very important for a pigeon to have plenty of character and it's my own personal opinion that a pigeon with plenty of character is able to better transmit his qualities to the next generation. I have become even more convinced of this after carefully studying many breeding lofts.

The two most important character traits are "mordant" and "intelligence/shrewdness". Together they determine the quality of a racing pigeon. All the other characteristics either enhance or suppress their development. You never will have enough pigeons with character in your loft. The character traits are transmitted intermediary, which means that we have to pair the strongest characters together. In this way we also make sure that we preserve this quality. When we introduce new breeding lines into our breeding schedule, to cross with our own, we should make sure that these pigeons exceed our own in this quality.

"La Creche" is a pure Aarden brought in for blood refreshment to bring in some extra power for the longer distances. He finished on top positions in many national races and so did his children. A son was 1th National Ace long distance. Direcg children finished 2nd, 3rd, 6th in National long distance races.

Allow me to quote from Piet de Weerd, who wrote the following about the characteristic "mordant": "the secret of class pigeons is found in their passion, their stubbornness and their vitality. What could be the reason for your perfectly healthy pigeons not coming home with the top prizes?? Most likely they are not willing, or able to do so, because they haven't got enough stubborn drive, or total confidence to fly, if necessary, their harts out. Believe me of all the ingredients a pigeon should have, these character ones are the greatest of importance. A class pigeon can be compared with a battery, filled to the brim with electricity. With such an ignition you can even start a frozen motor. And anyone who is able to breed this into his birds is one step ahead of his competitors."

Thus the words according to Piet de Weerd, the man who taught me the most about evaluating pigeons. Although he and I don't always agree, however, the above statement, so well expressed, emphasizes again that he knows what is essential in the world of pigeon breeding. I'll try to explain in more detail what this special kind of ignition is all about.

A pigeon of character in the loft sticks out from that of the other birds. Try to hold such a youngster by the beak. He won't accept this. He'll try with all his might to shake himself loose. Many of the older birds will do the same thing whenever you try to open their beaks, or hold them. Then there are those birds who will try one way or another to wriggle themselves free from your hands. Your assurance that you're handling a thoroughbred may well lay in the determination of the bird to free itself. Don't get them mixed up with a shy bird who tries to escape because of fear. Those real wringers aren't afraid, their character demands of them to try and get away.

My "411" was such a bird. It was almost impossible to hold him and if you tried it, in no time at all you would end up with loose feathers in your hands and no bird. Whenever he realizes that he's free again, he'll remain sitting on my hands for a few more seconds. This proves to me he's not afraid. It's as if he's telling me that he really doesn't appreciate that I'm holding him all the time. But such birds you better check up very carefully!

I'm convinced that the top class pigeons distinguish themselves from other pigeons by their strong personalities. They mind their own business both in and around the loft, as well in the races. Look at the relatives and the descendants of the "411". For 25 years at a stretch they have been the best birds in an area were 3500 fanciers are racing pigeons. Especially they have dominated the day races in the last 10 years. On these difficult races they made me Semi-National Champion (N.A.B.v.P.) in a field of 20.000 fanciers in a series of 7 races in the years 1993, 1994 and 1996. No fancier has ever been twice the champion in the hundred years the N.A.B.v.P. exists as an organization in Holland. Do I need to state more??

The generations which have come from my Janssen foundation hen "De 08 Duif, are still as energetic as ever. It is important that once you possess these character qualities you don't let them slip from between your fingers again.

Once in a while I have visitors in my loft who immediately notice the many wringers and then ask me if I select them that way. Some of them may add that they don't care for this type of pigeon at all. Every man to his own taste, as the saying goes. As far as I'm concerned, especially in my breeders, this wriggling is a must. The more mordant or fighting spirit is shown by a pigeon, the better she will do on the day races.

I even believe that there is a relationship between this characteristic and the speed one. On the other hand, I'm of the opinion that this type of pigeon won't be able to come up with such an excellent performance on the overnight long distance races. They simply don't have the patience for this. Their determination to go on often exceeds their physical strength. Sometimes they'll land only a few miles away from home because they are unable to go on. They are totally exhausted. Still, these are the kind of pigeons I'm devoted to, because at the day races they're able to compete and they will win for us the most beautiful prizes!

Most of the time this character trait is passed on by the parents to the offspring. At the same time almost never will a parent who doesn't have it be able to produce children who do. When there are two pigeons, who in quality are very close, and I'm given the choice, I'll pick the wringers. In Piet de Weerd's opinion this wriggling is more connected with super vitality in a pigeon. This is one of those occasions where I differ from the opinion with this "Old Master".

Pigeons who, the minute you hold them, show you the mold they've been cast from, don't do this because of vitality. No. I believe it's more a sign of willpower. This characteristic is also transmitted differently. You can check that on Table Four of the previous article. I believe that it is possible for a pigeon with plenty of character, but no vitality to rate high in the races, while a pigeon who only has vitality, but no trace of character will end up much, much lower in results.

You can only make this comparison on a distance which suits the birds. The most famous pigeons, and you all know them by name, all were birds who excelled in character traits. The same holds for horse racing. There the emphasis is also on performance, and there are many examples to prove my point. Often you can't even come close to a top horse(perhaps only the trainer may) and such high-spirited horses can never be tamed down completely. People are still remembering some of these horses from centuries ago, because they were able to pass on this characteristic so well from generation to generation. Often this characteristic isn't liked in cows or pigs, and although I don't know much about greyhounds, I would assume they like to find it there.

The traits-of-character, are of the utmost importance when it comes to transmitting qualities. I even believe that character is able to make all the other characteristics work better than they in reality are. And that's the reason why the trait of character to me is the most important of all.

Steven van Breemen

Copyright 1998. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole, in part, in any form or medium, without the express written permission of Steven van Breemen, is forbidden.

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