19. Questions & Answers
This section has been setup specially to answer questions with regard to the Release Manual. Before you ask questions please read, reread and study the Release Manual carefully If there are still questions left Iíll be most happy to answer them!
I hope you all understand losses are not always because of mistakes being made when releasing birds for a race. There are many things related:
-bad quality birds
-birds with no functioning orientation system
-birds with ill health
-birds living in bad lofts
-birds not being fed, trained, raced well
-caretaking of the race birds not ok
-pigeon truck construction/ventilation not ok
And certainly I have forgotten to mention a few. Only if these things are right the Release Manual can be used to find solutions for what else could have gone wrong!
Dear Mr Van Breemen,
I have read you article on pigeon losses due to inversion with great interest! I reside in rural inland Australia after living most of my earlier years in coastal areas. As you may be aware Australia in large parts is experiencing one of the longest droughts on record (7yrs plus). Since the start of this drought pigeon losses have significantly worsened (seems to correlate fairly accurately). The birdage is low in these rural communities has always been low due to low membership and they seem to have not changed routes or flying methods significantly. However the losses experienced at race points of even 50 miles is staggering! I.e 25% birds home and velocities of 500mpm on clear days! Many flyers start with 100 birds and last less than 6 or more races? I am nervous about starting to race again particularly due to the losses I have witnessed! I love the sport and can't imagine being without the birds?
Can you help in any way? Where could I purchase you release manual?
When races go bad you first think of a pigeon truck not being ok and the birds not being handled ok inside. Nevertheless I would advise you the have a look at birdnumbers inside the race basket, ventilation and access to water at all times. These things do really matter.
But if you loose such high numbers in very short races something else is very wrong. I think 2 things play a major role in Australia nowadays:
1. Very dry and very hot are no good conditions to race birds
2. Australia suffers a big whole in the ozone layer letting too much UV-c through. Now pigeons have great difficulty handling that and as a result are scattered around and get lost. This type of UV gives pigeons great difficulty to orientate resulting in losses and low speeds in races.
Circumstances I think you are not being able to change much about it I fear.
Steven van Breemen.
Very good article. How is solution for detect a inversion? Any electric apparatus or so?
Dear Mr. Ledesma,
Some types like ground fog you can see but there is no kind of apparatus you can buy in the shop around the corner available to detect an inversion. In Holland the weather office has a special page for the airports and they inform us over here very well about inversions and when they have cleared up so it is safe to release the pigeons. Maybe the weather office in the Canary Islands or in the mainland Africa have such a page and you can find information there.
You can see inversions in a form when in the very early morning the windows of the cars are wet (not of the rain of course). In such days you can check sites that inform about the dewpoint. This has to do with inversions. When temperature has come above the dewpoint of that day, the inversion starts to disappear. But there are many types of inversions and the best information you should be able to get from your airport or weatheroffice.
Inversions however can be heard! Inversion layers do bounce sounds back. In certain days you might be experiencing a train coming down the street where you live and there is no track for it. Or that you notice the sounds of the highway further up much louder then normal. This is caused by an inversion as well.
Steven van Breemen.
We experience similar losses in ZA. These losses happen when we expect it to be a normal race in normal weather. The only difference is that we liberate inland and away from the sea!
Can inversion still play a role in the losses. A few weeks ago the THU union in Gauteng liberated pigeons at 200km and had a total disaster, the weather was not that bad so something else happened.
When pigeons are raced to Cape Town they have to cross a mountain with 30-70 km to go to the lofts. Can the mountain also trap air and induce inversion?
Regards from Cape Town.
There are various kinds of inversions and they can also happen inland; though closer to the sea they happen the most.
If you study the Release Manual more closely you will see that there are more problems making it pigeons very hard to find their way home: bad sight, mist/fog, clouds and especially low clouds, rain, snow, hail etc. When fanciers involved in releasing pigeons do not know these things and they do not inform themselves in the right way before a release things can go dead wrong. So encourage them to study the Release Manual and to ask questions.
Correct that mountains can trap air that might form inversions or fog.
Steven van Breemen.
I read your article about inversion and the influence on races. I still dont know, what the inversion exactly is. Accoarding my knowledges ... and that I learn at school, that inversion means sunny, clear sky in the mountain and worse in the lowland. You write, that there are big losses of youngsters ... and especially when there is a clear sky, no wind early in the morning.
There were many losses in the past and this could be true ... it was nice weather, lets say ideal and inspite of this, there were huge losses ...
Do you think its possible to meassure the extent of inversion ? How could I know that there is an inversion ? Do you think that it would be more safety to release in the afternoon (e.g. private trainings). I live in Slovakia, the country in the Central Europe. Do you think, that inversion is also a case of huge losses ?
It is very very interesting topic ... I think that your ideas can introduce new views on this problem. I will try to study more about this.
Daniel Krajcik, Slovakia
When you have read and studied the Release Manual and this Q&A section you will have found most of the answers you have requested. Inversions play a big role in losses, but also other weather phenomena and often combinations of several together at the same time. Now you know them it is advisable to inform yourself about them before you release pigeons for a race.
Steven van Breemen.
Your article was very interesting to me and others who wonder about the reasons for losses during racing. One thought that you might also consider is electromagnetic disturbances from space. One of my club mates has a son who is an expert on these disturbances, and the two of them have a website that offers advice through charts showing firstly the disturbance forecast (much like a weather forecast), followed by a chart further down which gives the actual current conditions. It could be helpful in planning training tosses and races. The site is www.pigeonnavigation.com and has been helpful to me and others too.
I know of this website and many fanciers study it closely on race days. It has been useful to understand what goes wrong. However we did experience several race days where all circumstances were perfect and the electro magnetic field was highly disturbed. So badly we hardly dared to let the birds out. Once I didnít and others did and they experienced super races.
Now something else. What you and your friends point out starts to matter more and more when more things are bad so pigeons cannot orientate well. In the worst circumstances they do use the magnetic field for orientation and then it goes dead wrong. However if other things are ok and they hardly need the magnetic field for orientation (even during serious disturbances) races go very well. During the 2 years I did research on races world wide and fanciers send in their race results and weather circumstances we experienced this several times. I hope I have made myself clear enough for you.
Steven van Breemen.
As said I have a few questions. I'll voice my questions as they arise from your editorial.
1. How can one reliably recognise an inversion? We see it here - usually during springtime - as a flat layer of thin smog at a certain level.
2. I was under the impression that UV rays had the capacity to pass through cloud and moist air. So that only a very small % of the UV would not reach the pigeon? If the reduced amount of UV was substantial I can understand that the aberration could also be substantial.
3. I have always believed -and still do - that the altered position of the sun with an inversion is not very great and should not lead to severe losses.
4. I agree with you that an inversion occurs when there is no wind. But there was wind at the liberation point?
5. With an East wind (? I thought there is no wind?) and an inversion, do birds turn to the left in the NH or to the East. Same thing if you race from the South but what if you were to race from the North?. What happens if you race from East to West or West to East?
6. How far from the sea would you still find inversions?
Please read the above as they were written - to gain more knowledge.
I hope you have found a pleasant time to read and study the Release Manual I have published here. It has been the basics for the release rules during races used and respected by all involved in pigeon racing in Holland and Belgium nowadays.
As you are a born Dutchman you certainly will understand the information gathered here on the page below which is used on race days to release pigeons. When I have time I will try and set it up in English:
I think the Release Manual and the Q&A section have given you most of the answers you have requested answers for. The ones left over are:
Clouds let UV rays through but not all of them. On the other side they also reflect the rays. My experience is that it is safe to release pigeons under a 10-80% cloud cover; below and under it will or might give problems. This is an option in De Lossingswijzer!
My research has shown outcome with regard to inversions because we have many combines releasing at 1 spot every 10 minutes so the outcome of the races could be compared easily.
You can compare the outcome of races easily:
1. you take the speed of the 1st bird
2. you take the speed of the last bird of the first 20%
3. you take the difference between the 2 speeds and divide this by 1% of the 1st bird
4. now you will get a percentage that allows you to compare all races fast or slow and looking at the percentage it will be very easy for you to say how the race was. Between 5-8% good. Between 8-15% mediocre. Above 15% it will be a disaster. Try it and you will see it by yourself.
The sun sends out UV rays to the earth that are picked up by the pigeons. Inversion layers(sometimes more than 1 at the same time) bounce back a part and let another part through however change the direction of them. The birds pick up the wrong angle of the uv rays and will depart in a wrong direction. My research has clearly shown that on days with an inversion the race outcome % (see above) was the worst early in the morning and then getting better bit by bit till the inversion did clear up totally. Then the race outcome percentage stayed the same. How come?
The speed of race birds will drop when the donít fly straight home. Now an inversion will make them take a wrong route; so they fly an extra distance and the average speed will drop. In our areaís pigeons will always leave the release site towards the left in NW direction. Now my combine is situated in the NW corner of the Provincial. We will have winds most of time between SW and NW so not a very favourable position. However on days with an inversion our combine always does well. Best results have the very few fanciers living in the outer NW corner. They report always big batches of birds then while they normally never see birds. On such days my birds will always come back from behind. My research has shown that when the inversion has cleared up the birds will come straight from the line of flight or the later ones back from the left because the wind did drive them up there.
In case of any problems a wind, and the best one is a tailwind, is always helpful. Now birds that are in trouble will eventually always leave the release site with the wind. We have prevailing SW and W winds so that is ok. My experience is with a headwind and total cloud cover that it is disastrous to let birds go. We do have that weather type here when the winds come over the North Sea in Spring and the sun isnít strong enough to make whole in the clouds cover. When I donít thrust the release officer I wonít basken birds in this type of weather and it has saved me many birds. But missed to championships. So it is always what you want: birds in the loft or a cup/diplomaís.
We race from SW to NE and in clear days we will have no wind sometimes but most of times a wind between SE and NE. This is dangerous as the birds will depart wrong and the winds helps them going more wrong. So it is advisable to wait till the inversion has cleared up.
However sometimes we must gamble. When on such days the inversion has cleared up it is always followed by the end of the morning by a strong dry thermal. Especially youngbirds with no experience have difficulty flying into thermals and will sit and wait until this is over. So we try always to have our birds home before the thermals get too strong. If the race takes longer because of a headwind we do take risks sometimes as we have too make a choice out of 2 bad ones. We do have combines that change racepoints from SW to SE or E to help the birds solving problems better by giving them a tailwind that helps.
As you will have understand there are various types of inversions. The problem is that you will have to understand the weather. We race in Holland during the summer and you race in South Africa in wintertime. Now with us inversions can be present in wintertime all day and they clear up in summertime during the morning. In summertime wet inversions are not present more and more inland; however in wintertime they are. My advise is to find weathersites that give info on inversions and make use of that as much as possible. If they donít do that have SANPO arranged that as you all memberships fee.
If you have anymore questions please do not hesitate to ask. Fee 1 nice dinner for 4 around the corner of your house in the Thai restaurantÖ
Steven van Breemen.