Man seeks to start Pigeon Racing Club locally

Angie Talken
Linn County Leader

Pigeon racing is an up-and-coming hobby across the world, and Mike King, Brookfield, wants to bring his favorite pastime to others in the Brookfield and Linn County area. 

King said the sport began in Europe and pigeons have been used throughout history to relay messages during times of war and as forms of entertainment for famous people like the Queen of England - famous Americans Mike Tyson, Mel Gibson, George Foreman and even Marceline's own Walt Disney. 

Three of Mike King's pigeons.

King began racing pigeons in the Kansas City area in 2014 when a co-worker introduced him to the sport.

"I have discovered it really is something that anyone can do - no matter their abilities - it is good wholesome fun," King said.

Before the COVID pandemic, King said he had experienced "quite a bit" of interest from Linn County residents, and he is hoping the interest still exists. He is planning on having an introductory meeting at 6 p.m., on June 7 at the Trinity United Methodist Church. 

Pigeon racing is the sport of releasing specially trained pigeons as far as hundreds of miles from their home, after transporting them to the take-off location from an enclosed cage, which the boards cannot see out of. The birds, which are tagged with a GPS tracker, then return to their homes over a carefully measured distance. The time it takes the animal to cover the specified distance is measured and the bird's rate of travel is calculated and compared with all of the other pigeons in the race to determine which animal returned at the highest speed. Some birds can travel as fast as 55 mph, King said. 

"It is nice to do local races and be home before the birds and watch them come in," he said. "There are also longer distance races, where the birds will be waiting on you when you get home." 

King said one of the greatest things about pigeon racing is the friendships and mentorships that can be formed. 

"People are willing to share bords, advice, tips and techniques," he said. "I want to help people get started and form a mentorship role with them as other people have done for me."

There are a variety of pigeons that can be purchased, some inexpensively - others cost upwards of $1 million like a Belgium Pigeon purchased in Europe. The birds are like pets, King said, races are planned around temperatures, wind speed, distance with the bird's safety being of the most importance.

The longer a person gets into the sport, the more involved it comes with breeding and seeking out specialty birds. King said it is important that those interested realize there are others with birds willing to help them get started.

"The bird racing community is a great community with help being offered every turn of the way," he said. "Those are also the people you sit down and have a barbecue with after setting off the birds - they become your friends and the sport gets into your blood."

Anyone interested should plan on attending the first introductory meeting at 6 p.m., on June 7 at the Trinity United Methodist Church in Beookfield.