The hobby my uncle’s generation knew and loved is now obsolescent. Probably contaminated by virtual entertainment, the lack of interest in flying pigeons among those of my age threaten it’s reverence. No doubt, a socioeconomically stratified pastime, flying pigeons is still practiced by those who represent the old school from the hoods of New York to LA. Most people cringe at the thought of pigeons but there is more to those crumb snatching, space invading birds. They can fly higher than your ankle believe or not, and flip, roll, race and act as messengers even. Those in poverty have always had to live particularly creative lives. Not in the way of painters, artists or musicians but in a more instinctual way, generating resources where there are none. Making something out of nothing. And flying pigeons as a hobby proved no different.
Growing up in the periphery of the glamour of Los Angeles, were kids navigating their way through some of the roughest neighborhoods. My uncle was one of them. He learned how to fly pigeons at the age of 6 and invested his time in his birds as a way to stay out of trouble. As he led me to the coop where he keeps his birds I walked slowly, hesitantly thinking I’d have to endure some awful smell but to my surprise they were the cleanest pigeons I’d ever seen. There was a method to training them as well. The coop was divided. On one side were his fliers, the ones he’d send up in the air to fly. They all sat on perches, which he explained attributes to cultivating a sense of togetherness that they display when flying. On the other side were his pairs or the mother and fathers and this was the breeding part of the system.
As he let the birds out they flew one by one joining each other in the sky. “When they fly together like that you know they’re well trained,” he said proudly. At one point a hawk even came shooting through the sky, threatening to attack one of his pigeons. “See you have to know about the seasons too to know when the hawks will be out.” As he continued explaining what season hawks migrate, I stood there thinking, “Wait, there’s even more to this?”
As with most everything we overlook there usually is.