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My Weekend with a Herd of Competitive Pigeons (Spoiler Alert: I Lost):

Feathered Friends or Feathered Foes?

By Ahmad ZubairPublished 2 months ago 3 min read

Have you ever dreamt of escaping the daily grind and connecting with nature? Well, let me tell you, there's a way more unexpected way to achieve that than a yoga retreat in Bali. This past weekend, I found myself knee-deep (well, maybe ankle-deep) in pigeon poop, surrounded by a feathery frenzy, all thanks to a very unique volunteer opportunity.

It all started with a browsing mishap. I was looking for volunteer gigs involving adorable puppies (because, therapy!), but my finger must have slipped because next thing I knew, I was signed up to be a "Pigeon Racing Assistant." Now, pigeon racing? Not exactly what I envisioned, but hey, who can resist the allure of a good challenge?

The moment I arrived at the pigeon coop, I knew I was in for an experience. Hundreds of beady eyes swiveled in my direction as I entered the loft. The air thrummed with a low cooing that escalated into a cacophony as I approached the cages. These weren't your average park pigeons – these were athletes, sleek and well-maintained, with an air of unwavering determination in their tiny beaks.

My task? Assist in training these feathered speed demons. Apparently, pigeon racing is a whole thing, and these particular pigeons were preparing for a big competition. I spent the next few hours releasing them in waves, watching them take flight with a flurry of wings and a surprising amount of speed. There was Phil, the seasoned champion with a slight limp (rumored to be a past racing injury), Beatrice, the sassy newcomer with a talent for dive-bombing unsuspecting volunteers (me), and Kevin, the sweetheart who kept trying to nuzzle my hand (probably because I accidentally showered him with birdseed).

Let me tell you, wrangling a bunch of competitive pigeons is no walk in the park. They have minds of their own, and their desire to win was nothing short of impressive. One particularly ambitious bird (we'll call him Steve) took off way before the designated release time, nearly causing a mid-air collision with a confused sparrow. Another decided mid-flight that the whole racing thing was overrated and opted to take a nap on the roof instead.

By the end of the day, I was exhausted, covered in feathers, and strangely exhilarated. I may not have won any pigeon racing awards (shocker, I know), but I definitely gained a newfound respect for these feathered athletes and their unwavering determination. So, next time you're looking for a unique weekend adventure, skip the yoga retreat and consider befriending your local pigeon racing community. You might just be surprised by what you find.

As the competition day arrived, I returned to the coop with a strange mix of nerves and pigeon-induced pride. The atmosphere crackled with nervous energy – both human and avian. Trainers fussed over their feathered charges, meticulously checking wings and adjusting minuscule trackers. The pigeons themselves strutted around, puffed up with pre-race importance, occasionally pecking at each other in what I hoped wasn't a pre-emptive grudge match.

The race itself was a blur of flapping wings and excited shouts. As the pigeons were released, a multicolored cloud soared into the sky, a symphony of coos echoing in their wake. I strained my neck, desperately trying to spot my favorites – Phil, Beatrice (minus the dive-bombing tendencies, hopefully), and Kevin (come on, little buddy, you can do it!).

Unfortunately, victory wasn't meant to be for my ragtag bunch. A sleek, silver blur crossed the finish line first, belonging to a trainer who looked suspiciously smug. My team, bless their fluffy hearts, straggled in later, some looking a little worse for wear (Steve, I'm looking at you, with your questionable detour into someone's backyard birdbath).

Despite the loss, a sense of camaraderie filled the air. Trainers congratulated each other, pigeons cooed contentedly, and even Steve seemed to have forgiven my earlier birdseed shower. As I left the coop that day, covered in more feathers than ever before, I realized that the true win wasn't on the leaderboard. It was the unexpected connection I'd made with these fascinating creatures, the thrill of witnessing their athletic prowess, and the sheer absurdity of spending a weekend surrounded by competitive pigeons. And hey, who knows? Maybe next year, with a little extra training (and perhaps some anti-diversion tactics for Steve), my feathered friends will take home the gold.


About the Creator

Ahmad Zubair

I am a technical fraud analyst by profession and by passion I am still searching for it...

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