Everyone do the pigeon

The Northwest Winter Pigeon Classic struts into Puyallup this weekend

By Steve Dunkelberger on November 22, 2007

In keeping with the bird theme for the Weekly Volcano’s Thanksgiving issue, there is this little bird-brain item in the works this weekend, The Northwest Winter Pigeon Classic. It runs Nov. 23 to 25 at the Puyallup Fairgrounds.

This event, fully sanctioned and endorsed by the Puget Sound Pigeon Club, will bring the world of pigeon breeding and showing to the general audience.

Imagine a dog or cat or even a horse show. Now replace those beasts with pigeons. That’s a pigeon show. Burt and Ernie from Sesame Street would be so proud.

“Each breed has its own standards it is shooting for,” event organizer and Puget Sound Pigeon Club secretary Gene Nollan says.

Judges compare the contestants against the “ideal” pigeon on feather patterns, grooming and disposition — they have to be trained to stand in the proper showing stance just to compete to be the head bird of the flock.

Hundreds of species of pigeons will be on display while some 90 exhibitors will talk about breeding lines, grooming tips and the latest in pigeon care and raising gadgets and tricks. A few hundred if not a thousand people will attend the three-day event, coming from as far away as Idaho, Oregon and British Columbia. This event is the big gathering of the year, when bird lovers swarm to a central spot and henpeck about everything bird, bird related and feather fluffed.

“The birds are sort of the common denominator,” Nollan says, noting that he started raising pigeons when he was 12, after catching the bird-raising flu from his father. His dad raised birds in Germany.

While some folks might think this is just a silly hobby, this is serious business for others. Winners of the regional contests have the honor of competing at the national contest. The 2008 Grand National will be held in January in Michigan. That event is the grandest event is all “pigeondom” and is set to draw some 10,000 birds to the event.

Anyone interested in raising pigeons should visit the National Pigeon Association’s Web site at www.npausa.com/. The site has tips on everything from how to read the band on a pigeon’s leg, if you just happen to come across a bird that has lost its way, to how to tell if your pigeon is under the weather.

The local chapter meets monthly and talks about maximizing the breeding process to get all the right traits in your pigeon to training your bird.

[Puyallup Fairgrounds, Nov. 23-25, Ninth and Meridian, Puyallup, 253.472.5103]