Pigeon racing hobby gets John high – Bundaberg Now
Birds of a Feather don’t just congregate, they run together – at least so do John Ivich and his more than 100 carrier pigeons.
The 56-year-old has only been in pigeon racing for four years, but has already won the Bundaberg Racing Pigeon Club championship title.
“It’s awesome,” John said.
“I’ve wanted to do it all my life.
Despite being competitive by nature and quietly thrilled with his league title, John has said pigeon racing is just a hobby.
“It’s just a friendly thing,” he said.
“We love our birds, we love our birds.
“Some of them are so cute, like the whites and they have different colors.”
The Bundaberg Racing Pigeon Club has around 16 members who race regularly.
The intelligent birds are taken to a starting point and tasked with finding their way home.
John said they were fitted with a “little chip” when they were younger, which records their flight time and official arrival time when they return to their home base.
“They just want to go home.
“It’s beauty and that’s why I love them so much.
“You sit and wait and see them coming over the horizon and that’s awesome, hey.
“This is what you train them to do, this is their safe zone.”
The avid fancier said the intelligence of the birds made them easy to train for the sport.
“What you do, before you train them, you let them out every afternoon and they fly around your house.
“Eventually they get higher and higher.
“They spot features like roads and rivers and that’s what they follow.
“As they improve, they fly 5 km and get to know their surroundings, then 10 km and next time 20-30 km.
“Our races start short and teach the birds the line.
“They are intelligent birds, they know where the sun rises.”
In 2020, local members of the longest pigeon race participated in the launch of Townsville.
“You would be looking at about 900 miles,” John said.
“If they fly into the wind, it’s obviously more difficult for them, but if they have the wind behind them, they’ll come back the same day.
John expects to race around 120 pigeons this year in addition to his around 60 breeding birds.