Subscribe to far-flung places
Sign up here
and receive email alerts when this blog is updated.

 Add to your RSS reader

Friday, October 09, 2009

For the birds

What do you get when you cross a parrot with homing pigeon? A bird that will ask direction if it gets lost.

Jose Ledesma tells me that joke while dining at a local Canarian restaurant owned by a friend of his.

Ledesma raises racing pigeons. In fact, one of his birds, Bayo Casablanca, holds the world record for longest distance traveled. Facing extreme conditions, the bird traveled from Morocco, over the open ocean and made its way back to Tenerife.

"The fact that they know how to get back is one of the mysteries of the world," says Ledesma. "They have a sense that humans just don't have."

Ledesma, who once raised and trained falcons, stumbled across the racing pigeon industry purely by chance. Now, he is considered a respected leader in the field, and is known all over the world. He raises pigeons that are purchased for racing.

Once every two years, he organizes a pigeon race that begins in Fuerteventura, one of the other islands in the Canaries. Participants from countries such as Belgium, Germany, Ireland, China descend upon the islands to cheer on their bird, and hopes it will be the first that arrives back to the loft, which is in the backyard of Ledesma's home.

The prize: 12,000 Euro ($18,000). A couple from The Netherlands were the most recent winners. They shrieked with joy when their bird was the first to enter its roost.

When I first started to research the Canary Islands, I thought I'd find the canary bird here. Nope, I haven't see Tweetie, but I now know more than ever about the pigeon.

No comments: