At 57 years of age, I have been very fortunate in my life to be successfully involved in various competitive sports – HUMAN AND ANIMAL. Only in the pigeon sport have I ever heard of evaluating athletes by “EYE SIGN”. I have never witnessed nor heard of coaches, owners, general mangers or parents looking into the eyes of their players, young children or livestock with a “jeweler’s loupe” to see if they were going to be a good performer, top breeder, sprinter, long distance athlete, etc.
I have owned, raced and bred horses. I have gone to several top sales and auctions, and I have never heard or witnessed an eye sign theory to select racing or breeding stock in horses.
The same applies in dog racing, fighting chickens, dog fighting or other types of animal competition that is legal or illegal. Nobody has any theories or evaluation procedures with eye sign. WHY? Because they would be laughed out of the sport for such a theory. It is ridiculous for those sports or competitions, and it is just as silly to believe they can be used in the pigeon sport to help with success.
I read advertisements about eye sign specialists, racing eyes, sprinting eyes, distance eyes, eye sign pairing and mating, graders, teachers and scientific research about eye sign. Only in the pigeon sport do some fanciers believe and practice these methods. Of course, there are other methods we also use in the pigeon sport for evaluation and culling that many have faith in, such as wing formation, strong or weak back, soft or hard muscle, throat configuration, color of toe nails, short or long keel, and maybe 20 more physical characteristics that are used as methods of selecting breeding or flying stock.
In all of these theories never do I hear mention the one major requirement necessary for the racing pigeon to be successful: The ability to find his way home, “HOMING ABILITY”. The intelligence and navigation skills to be 100-600 miles from home and race and navigate to return home to his loft the same day. Without this ability to home and navigate, all the other qualities mean nothing. Yet the graders, teachers, master breeders, specialists, etc. never seem to be concerned about this one aspect of our sport.
Can they grade intelligence, heart, determination, motivation or desire just by handling a bird, opening his wing, looking at the throat or looking into the eyes? PLEASE GIVE ME A BREAK! YOU CANNOT BE SERIOUS AND REALLY BELIEVE THIS IS POSSIBLE! To spend your money and time applying these methods to achieve success is foolish.
Like I said before, only in the pigeon sport do these experts exist (self proclaimed experts). WHY? Because we in the sport look for any short cut to success. There is none. The only way to be successful in this sport is the old fashioned way, to work for it, and earn it.
The sad thing about these so called experts graders and eye sign experts is that I truly believe they think they have the ability to select birds by their methods.
Only in the pigeon sport can they find individuals gullible and naive enough to listen and sometimes practice their methods. No other sport or competition would consider such theories with a straight face.
We talk about our sport being on the decline, and there are many reasons for it. What a shame if a new flyer gets involved with one of our eye sign experts, and spends his time and money on their methods. After a few years, if he stays that long, with little or no positive results, we lose another potential fancier and maybe a few of his friends.
Yes, I am being hard on these individuals because I TRULY BELIEVE THEY ARE HURTING OUR SPORT for some small financial gain or a personal ego trip, or both.
As I have said in many other articles, you have the best graders in the world, the training basket and race day. By training and racing your birds you will be evaluating yourself as well as evaluating and culling your birds.
You as a trainer may need some improvement in different aspects of the sport: feeding, training, medication, trapping and loft management. It is hard for us to accept the blame for poor results or heavy loses. We much rather blame the birds, the weather, the transport company, or some other area, but not our own abilities or methods.
To select breeders and flyers is a very simple procedure. PERFORMANCE should be your only criteria. Does the bird come from a winning family, generation after generation of excellent race results? If the answer is yes, then the bird is worth taking a chance on in the breeding or flying loft.
Performance means the type of results necessary to compete in your area: speeds, distances, weather and land conditions. If the bird’s family has shown that it can be competitive, that is all you need to know. Forget about his eyes, wings, back, muscles, throat or keel.
Occasionally I will go to a auction, especially if it is sponsored by an excellent flyer and offers birds with race records. I see these domestic birds, some with multiple diplomas, sell for much less then birds with foreign bands and no race results. The excuses are that he is to long, has no chest, has a weak back, has no breeding eye, etc. FORGET THOSE THEORIES! The bird has already proven itself in race competition with multiple diplomas. He has the ability, and he has already proven it. You would have no problem taking a chance on breeding this bird with another performance bird with the same ability.
“SAME ABILITY” means proper breeding: speed to speed and distance to distance. If the bird has multiple diplomas at various speeds and distances that is even better. You really should not care about eye sign, or how the bird handles.
The sport is changing everyday. New ideas and theories are advertised, sold and practiced. However, the basic principle still applies: no homing ability and navigating skills, no positive results. You cannot find these abilities by looking into the eyes. Regular training and racing and selecting breeding and flying stock for performance results and bloodlines is the only path to success.
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Article Written by: Bob Prisco
136 thoughts on “Eyesign… Only in Pigeon Racing”
Biggest load of rubbish ever written
I have found over the years of training pigeons for racing, that eye sign or quality of the eye was important in reaching peak fitness. The breeding of pigeons crossing the quality eyes with the breeds can be useful in producing good racers and breeders. Violet yes I found to be rare and produce extra quality eyes of unusual designs. It doesn’t necessarily mean that all the signals in the eyes result in winners, however, knowing the best distances of the breed and the changes in the eye coming up to race time, shows the fitness and quality of the eye. I know it has helped me in choosing the right bird for the time to race.
I’m a novice and I appreciate the advice of the writer
After reading your article, a lot of material I had previously gathered was thrown in the bin.
I believe in eyes sign’s but don’t understand them and I am flying 45 years
Sorry to disagree but I believe in the eye sign I believe in checking The throat I believe in checking on the the primary feather I believe in checking out the keel I am old -time racer from way back when I got out of the sport many years ago I enjoy reading the information I read your post now because I still have a spot for pigeons
Bob you are 100 % wrong
Unbelievable comments obviously you no or can’t understand eyesight at all I’ve flown for over 50 years and not once have I ever looked at the wing so that theory is obviously a complete load of rubbish so many other theory’s are also eyesign is not one of them to have a closed mind about it is depressing
Bob is accurate if the measure/definition of success is purely from a performance standpoint. Race day results can be indicative of your ability as a breeder/handler and how the pigeons respond/perform under your management. It is also the fastest/easiest way for a new flyer to achieve some level of “success” versus trying to learn the sport and develop a winning family of birds. As Bob mentions, this is specific to your location and what you find important (speed, blow homes on sunny days, long distance races with no day birds, endurance, OLR, etc).
The physical characteristics Bob discusses seem to be more for personal preference and enjoyment (there is nothing wrong with selecting pigeons that you also like to look at and handle). If you like “nice” eyes, great! If you like certain colors, fine! Wide flights, narrow flights, strong back, long keel….however, there certainly can be general physical characteristics that tend to yield higher performances for specific events. For example, world class sprinters look different than world class marathon runners yet both are world class. Generally, most sprinters have similar builds and most marathoners as well.
The fancier who has some way to accurately measure heart size is at a whole other level. There is data that has shown that great race horse champions like Secretariat, did indeed have well above average size hearts which gave them a natural, physiological advantage over their counterparts. The new or average fancier likely would not be privvy to having the knowledge or ability to determine heart size, but it makes sense that if it can be measured, the physiological POTENTIAL for better performance would exist.
With eyesign specifically (I was raised by a fancier who was an eyesign enthusiast), one should note that there is a difference between eyesight and eyesign. Professional baseball players have demonstrated better eyesight than lower level players or non baseball players when tested. I don’t know how the average fancier would be able to conclusively measure the eyesight of a pigeon.
At the end of the day, compete in this sport for whatever enjoyment you personally seek to get from it. It’s fun to discuss differences of opinions but there is never a need to diminish what others find important. For some, winning is most important to them, for others, just enjoying the amazement of seeing a pigeon drop from the sky to your loft while watching with your grandson is enough.