The History of Pigeon Racing?

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  2. February 8, 2013 10:46 pm

The History of Pigeon Racing?

From Messengers to Speed Demons: The History of Pigeon Racing

Predating turkeys, ducks, and even chickens, pigeons were the first birds to be domesticated by humans. The domestic pigeon is descended from the Middle Eastern rock dove, and records of its use as a messenger date back to ancient Egypt. As early as 1200 B.C.E, pigeons were used to carry messages about the flood stage of the Nile River, and there are records of people racing pigeons in the Roman Empire that date back to 220 C.E.

It’s only natural that developing birds to carry messages quickly would evolve into developing birds for racing. While historical records indicate that pigeons were widely used to send messages in the ancient Arab world and were brought to Europe to carry out the same function during the crusades, it was not until the 1800s that pigeon racing became a popular Western sport. Pigeon racing became especially popular in Belgium, where Arabian messenger pigeons were crossbred with local birds to produce very fast racing homers. Pigeon racing remains popular in Belgium to this day, and some of the best and fastest racing lofts are located in Antwerp.

Once pigeon racing became popular in Belgium, it didn’t take long for enthusiasm for the sport to spread to the nearby Netherlands and England, and by the late 1800s, it had reached North America. In fact, pigeon racing was an unofficial sport at the 1900 Olympic Games. Although interest in pigeon racing waned slightly in the early 20th century, the sport is now seeing a resurgence, with especially strong interest building in Australia, Asia, and South America. In 1818, the first modern pigeon race was held in Belgium, and the sport was relatively unknown in the rest of the world. Today, there are more than 20,000 pigeon lofts in North America and over 100,000 in England. While pigeon racing’s greatest popularity is in its home nation of Belgium, a worldwide community of pigeon racers is now a reality.


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