Panting in Racing Pigeons – When Is It Normal and When Is It Not, Part 4

Panting During Racing

Healthy racing pigeons racing on hot days will pant. This is completely normal and understandable now that you know that panting is the bird’s natural way of cooling itself.  And, it is completely normal and natural for a resting bird to pant in the heat of the summer.

When is it not normal? When a team that has been racing well suddenly starts to pant. This change indicates a possible respiratory infection.  If you notice a reluctance to fly or other signs of an inflamed airway such as sneezing, suspect an infection.

While these signs may seem subtle to you, remember that the birds should have developed a strong natural immunity by now, thus their response to disease is largely improved. So, it will be unusual to see the obvious signs of respiratory infections like dirty cere or one-eye cold.

Be alert for the vague symptoms like sneezing, panting and a sudden reluctance to fly and be ready to intervene with a vet’s health check.

Controlling the Pigeon Transporter Atmosphere

Confining a large number of racing pigeons in the relatively small area of a race basket will generate a lot of heat even on a cool day. This is certainly understandable considering the high body temperature of a pigeon (40.7 C). As the birds heat up, they will pant.

Normally, if you have provided water and adequate ventilation, the panting should not be a problem.  But, if the ventilation is inadequate, the moisture emitted from the birds’ air sacs will quickly create a humid environment.

When the humidity rises, less moisture can evaporate from the air sac surfaces. This means the bird will lose its ability to keep itself cool and it will quickly overheat. As the bird overheats, unless it has access to water, dehydration will rapidly ensue.

Adequate Ventilation and Water

Research has shown that birds will become 5% dehydrated in just 24 hours at 25 C if they have no access to water. But, give the birds the water it needs and it will tolerate higher temperatures without dehydration.

If you transport your birds with no easy access to water and with inadequate ventilation, you can expect a dehydrated, overheated bird upon arrival. Your bird will orientate poorly and fatigue easily, and be in no shape to race.

Proper ventilation with free access to water throughout the transportation is essential to great racing results.