Algarve Pigeon racing & Eyesign.

Eye-Sign 101 in the Algarve

My name is Kevin Spencer and along with my wife Joan and our race partners Jose Rodrigues and his wife Carol, we make up the team VAI & VEM. We race in the Algarve on the south coast of Portugal in the club Odiaxere and the N Barlavento Federation.

From right to left: Jose Rodrigues, Carol, Myron Kulik, Gloria, Joan Tutty and myself.

In September 2012 we moved lofts, around 20 miles from where we were originally in Portimao, to Lagos further west on the south coast and last year before we moved, we made some pairs up from the birds I had available to me with the aid of Myron Kulik and his use of eye-sign.

In 2012 we sent Myron pictures (via email) of literally hundreds of photographs of different pigeons eyes and he suggested which cocks to mate to which hens. We bred 20 or so late bred youngsters from these pairings along with the same amount from some pedigree pairs we made by strains etc. We took these birds to the new loft in Lagos and Jose and Carol bred around 40 late breds from their birds, pairings made by mating the best racers together so before we began to train these birds we had a team of around 80 late breds on our hands.

The idea we had was to send these birds to the first 5 yearling races of the 2013 race season (which made up the championship) in as equal a team as possible. We have a 20 bird limit in the yearling races so for example 7 best to best, 7 eye-sign and 6 pedigree pairings each week. The experiment was listed with the guys on the Alberta, Canada or AC website under the Eye-sign Topics and the entries and ring numbers were all listed on my website each week before the races.

To cut a long story short it was a triumph for the eye-sign matings made by Myron. In Portugal the top 20% of the liberation in the club gain Classification points, the same as in the N Barlavento Federation where the top 20% of birds gain classification points.

The club result lists any bird that finishes in the top 20% of the race and these birds score points depending on how high they finish in the result. 100 points awarded by the club being the highest score a single bird can achieve in any one race.

The first 4 races were Velocidade or Sprint at around 180 miles and the final race was a middle distance race from 250 miles.

Eyesign matings. 272pts, 253pts, 259pts, 266pts, 340pts equals 1390 points.   

Best to Best matings. 224pts, 258pts, 138pts, 86pts, 89pts equals 795 points.

Pedigree matings. 219pts, 329pts, 63pts, 157pts, Zero pts equals 768 points.

It can clearly be seen that the points scored by the birds paired only using eye-sign as a tool have far exceeded the performances and points totals of the other methods used to make matings.

One of the late bred pigeons racing in the yearling contests is worth a special mention. 'The Champ' as we call him went to 4 races of the 5 and his race record reads:

Nisa 176miles (Race 1) 1st Club (216birds) 2nd N Barlavento Federation (683birds). He also recorded the 11th best velocity in the mixed age liberation of 11,659 birds.

Sardoal 167 miles (Race2) 5th Club (188birds) 17th N Barlavento Federation (551birds).

Nisa2 176 miles (Race 3) 1st club (154birds) 39th N Barlavento Federation (580birds).

Guarda 250 miles (Race 4) 7th Club (123birds) 36th N Barlavento Federation (417birds.)

'The Champ' is also the 2013 Gold ring champion yearling in the Club of Odiaxere and he won the Silver ring in the N Barlavento federation in the Yearlings competition. Not bad for a 10 month old bird in his 4 races.

This pigeon was bred by using “eye-sign only” to make the pairing of his parents. The father had a good racing eye and the mother, a bird I call the 'Iron Grinder', has a “great breeder eye” and this bird (eye pic above) would never have been born if we had to rely on "Mr Basket" or "Best to Best" to breed our birds. 'The Champ' shows a very good racing eye-sign and should race to the long distance very well as he also has great reflex to sunlight in his two round pupils.

Myron and his wife Gloria came over to the Algarve, Portugal this April 2013 and Myron kindly went through all of our stock birds and race birds looking at their eyes and picked out the best breeders and racers from the whole loft (he looked at over 140 different pigeons). We have already paired them up accordingly to breed our yearling racers for 2014 and we should have the first eggs by the 2nd of May 2013 on his wife Gloria's birthday.

 He was very impressed at the standard of the pigeons here in Portugal (bodies and eyes) and at the skills of the local fanciers and of course the huge birdage that goes to races every weekend in the racing season from March until June here in Portugal. He got to see two of our middle distance races while he was staying with us and it is a great spectacle seeing all the pigeons arrive as we are one of 4 different pigeon lofts all within just a few yards of each other and birds are raining in from all over.

Myron picked out the best potential breeders and also suggested that we should retire one or two pigeons from the racing team right away and get some young from them before we risk losing them to a hawk or wires or just plain bad luck, so we did just that and we have paired them up. The local Portuguese fanciers were very interested in what was going on and many look at the eye-sign of their own birds but are not so sure what they are looking for. Myron tried to explain to them and also gave them the web address of his website which is a great tutorial on the subject of eye-sign.

I cannot begin to explain in text fully what to look for but one big tip is whilst having the eye glass firmly in your right eye with the bird in your hands so you can see its left eye, have its eye in focus in the eye glass and slowly turn the bird from the shade so that the sunlight hits the eye. When the sunlight hits the eye the pupil should react and seem to become much smaller. This is very important to Myron as it shows a fully working eye. Eye colour does not matter at all but Myron likes to see a 3D eye that seems to be like a funnel looking from the outside of the eye in towards the pupil.

We had a great time with Myron and Gloria and I think they enjoyed the Portuguesehospitality and the great food and of course the beautiful country and weather. Myron enjoyed seeing the pigeons and the races and he and Gloria even came to the Odiaxere pigeon club headquarters to see basketing night. It was great for pigeon racing between two different countries, us hearing from Myron about the GHC Little Belgium and him hearing and seeing how things are done with the birds here in the Algarve, Portugal.