What is a late bird?
A late bid is any bird that has been out for more days that race time. An unfortunate
but necessary assumption is that birds that fly long distance will occasionally be out a
night on a two day race. If a bird is gone for more than 48 hours on a race, we have to assume
it roosted with feral pigeons or in an unknown loft with other birds. It's possible the bird roosted solitary,
but it's not worth the risk to make an unsafe assumption if it could have a direct effect on the health of the
What is Quarantine? Why is it necessary?
Quarantine is to separate the bird from the team or loft immediately. It means to place the bird
in separate quarters where it will drink and eat separately from the other birds. We do this because this
bird may have been exposed to various diseases while out in the field. After 72 hours, the physical condition
of a bird is almost depleted. In this condition their immune system is weaker and it's more probable they
could pick up an illness or disease. A lot of diseases do not show signs immediately. Quarantine is necessary
for the health of your active team. Bringing an illness into the loft could shut your whole team down or greatly
hamper the performance of the entire team. By quarantining late birds you are preserving the health of your
active team. It also allows you to attend to your late birds and preserve their health as well. This will allow
you to give this bird preventive medication and make observations about their health. If the bird is very run
down, this will remove them from other stresses and expedite their recovery. You will be able
to feed them properly to bring their health and weight back.
It's a hard pill to swallow, as if you are on a natural system, this usually means you are hampering your
ability to fly their mate.
When to add them back to the team
If after several days, you do not detect any ill health from the bird's physical condition and
droppings and you have given them preventive medication it is probably OK to reintroduce
them back to the team. There is always a chance they have been exposed to an illness, but at least
after a few days in quarantine, their immune system will be stronger. There is no such thing as
total 100% bio-security due to the nature of pigeon racing. But any steps we can take to increase our
bio-security, even slightly is very important.
The temptation to race them immediately
Quarantine is one step towards increasing our bio-security. The nature of pigeon racing often creates
temptation. We put tremendous amounts of work into preparing for the races all year round.
No one wants to loose, we are competitive. A nature of competitiveness is the urge to take risks.
When you have had two or three tough weeks in a row and nearly your whole team is run down,
you want to send any bird that is in fair shape. Don't take a quarantine bird and ship it out of desperation.
Accept that quarantine status is going to be part of your system and part of how you manage a team.
A quarantined pigeon who was late the week before will NOT give you 100% We should never ship a pigeon
that is not going to give 100%. If you are currently towards the top in average speed, there is always
the little voice that says "I need to race and at least clock to stay in average speed." It's not worth it.
It's hard to accept this, but it really isn't worth a "chance" to stay in good ranking in average speed
versus risking the health of the team or doing a grave injustice to one of your pigeons.
Be honorable to yourself and your birds. Do the right thing.