Species group: Domestic Fancy Pigeons
Other common names: Bird of Dignity
Scientific name: Columba livia domestica
The American Show Racer Pigeon is one of several exhibition breeds that have been developed from the Racing Homer Pigeon. In the early 1950s, American breeders worked to develop a dignified, steady bird with a balanced appearance and posture, and this variety has caught on with pigeon fanciers who would like to compete on the basis of the beauty of their birds, rather than flying speed or homing ability. To learn about the show standards, schedules, and how to raise quality birds, prospective owners should contact the American Show Racers Association (ASRA).
This relatively young breed was developed in the United States in the mid-twentieth century. The club, formed in 1952, was originally known as the American Show Pen Racer Club, although the word “pen” was eventually dropped from the name.
This dignified pigeon can come in a variety of colors, but its figure always conveys a sense of steadiness and sturdiness.
400 - 670 grams (14.1 oz. to 23.6 oz.)
34 centimeters (13.4 in.)
7 - 10 years
Behavior / temperament:
An aura of calm dignity is important in showing American Show Racers. However, a single pet trained with kindness and tempted with treats from an early age can be a playful bird that enjoys attention. Don't expect these heavier birds to win any races against their Racing Homer Pigeon relatives.
A proper loft for breeding and training American Show Racer Pigeons is a specialized structure that must be carefully designed for easy cleaning and good air circulation without being drafty. Work with a more advanced hobbyist or breeder so that you can plan the best possible loft for your goals. It is often recommended that pigeons have a minimum of four feet square per pair, which means that a loft containing 12 birds should be at least four feet by six. Thieves have been a huge problem in some areas, so make sure that you have a secure loft, including alarms and probably a web-cam to monitor and record anyone going in or out.
If you have a retired, rehomed, or otherwise single pet American Show Racer that you are keeping as a personal pet, then you have a different situation. Provide the longest flight possible, to allow the bird to exercise even when you can't be there. Bird-proof any room where you allow the bird to come out and fly free (no ceiling fans, please!), and lock all doors and windows while the bird is out and about indoors. Pigeons can't be toilet-trained, but it's even possible to buy pigeon diapers if need be to keep the poop under control.
American Show Racers do bathe in water, so they should be allowed access to a shallow dog dish or similar bathing bowl to splash around in. Since pigeons lower the head to drink, they will need a deeper bowl for the drinking water.
The American Show Racer Pigeon is the descendant of homing and carrier pigeons that have been bred over thousands of years, so it has been developed to thrive on a relatively simple diet. Most people start with a high-quality pigeon mix from a well-regarded source. You may also mix in quality grains such as millet, barley, wheat, whole corn, dry peas, buckwheat, oats, and so on, either from a good feed store with fast turn-over or from a health food store. Special pellets formulated for pigeons can be used to supplement the diet, to ensure that your bird has enough vitamins and protein. Chopped greens like kale, dandelion greens, spinach, or fresh sprouts should be offered each day. Some people offer high beta carotene foods like finely chopped carrot or papaya.
All American Show Racer Pigeons need access to a high quality pigeon grit to help them digest the tough, uncooked grains they like to eat. A cuttlebone or another calcium source is also valuable. However, calcium may not be properly absorbed without sufficient vitamin D3 if your pigeon is an indoor pet. Therefore, it is important to choose a good avian supplement that includes D3.
Written by Elaine Radford
true marvel, GPS Homing pigeons, interesting learning experience
Every pet who has ever lived with me, was either a rescued, special needs, or orphaned animal. One of the smartest pets who I ever met, was a mostly black, American racing pigeon, I named Peppercorn.
How I wound up with this beautiful bird is a very interesting story. At the time, I was living in Baltimore, renting the second story of a row home. It was summer time, and so hot that I just knew Hell had to be cooler than Baltimore in August. I always felt sort of bad for animals living in a city, because there seemed to be too many of them, and most people didn't want to take care of them. Being raised on a farm, I was attentive to the needs of wild birds, especially food and water. The city in the summer time can be a hot and dry place.
Before I went to work in the morning, I used to put bowls of water with ice cubes, and large dinner plates (purchased from Good Will) for bird food in my yard for the birds to eat. After I adopted a stray puppy, I couldn't do this anymore, because he would chase the birds and I was afraid he might catch one. So, I went to a lumber store one weekend, and with just a saw, some nails, glue, and some planks of wood which I recovered from a dumpster, I constructed a not-too-ugly platform for the birds, which I placed outside my second story window. They loved it! Most of the birds who came to eat were regular city pigeons and sparrows.
One hot summer evening, after walking home, I changed out of my work clothes, and started the normal house chores. The first thing I usually took care of, was the bird platform. Those birds were really messy and it required daily maintenance. On this day, I couldn't believe what I saw: A mostly black pigeon, who couldn't fly. I gently picked her up and took her in the house. She may have been afraid, but she didn't show it. I noticed she had a bright yellow plastic donut around one of her legs. With a pair of wire cutters, I removed it and discovered some tiny printing which turned out to be a phone number. Of course I called the number and a voice mail message greeted me. I left my name/message about the injured bird. I didn't have any idea about how to take care of a bird, or diagnose her injury. The vet’s office was closed and wouldn't re-open until the next day, which luckily was a Saturday, so I didn't have to miss a day’s work. I gently placed her in a large cardboard box, placed some bird food and a saucer with water.
Next day, I tried calling the phone number from the band that was on her leg, and there was no answer. I took the pigeon to my vet. Thank goodness he knew all about pigeons; when he was younger, his favorite uncle raced pigeons. He discovered that the bird suffered a broken wing. When this happens, the birds usually don’t race ever again. He treated the bird, as much as he could, gave me some advice for caring for a pigeon, and wished me luck.
When I got home, I tried calling the phone number again, and this time I got to speak to someone. Turns out that Peppercorn was indeed a real American Racing Pigeon. The man was a breeder of these birds. He asked me how I came to have one of his birds, and I explained the entire situation to him. He told me that if I wanted to, I could keep her. It’s not as though he was ungrateful (he offered to mail me a check for the money I spent on her), but he said he would probably only use her for breeding purposes, and he didn't know when he would be able to visit Baltimore to recover his pigeon.
I was happy to keep her. She stayed in the center room of the house I was renting, and even though she never flew again, she did jump up from the floor to the sofa on many occasions. I took her to walk with me outside several times a week, and she always rode on my shoulder. There were a few times when she did attempt flight; I guess she would always know that her true home was in Virginia, but that injury to her wing kept her earthbound. The only time she almost flew, occurred one day while she was sitting on my shoulder, while I was working outside. I don’t know why, but she actually almost made it to the roof. She wound up sitting on the window sill for about 5 minutes, before returning to my arm.
Peppercorn lived with me for about 8 or 9 years. I don’t know about other types of birds, but this pigeon was a great friend. I taught her silly little tricks, like climbing up a bird ladder, opening a door on a bird house, and ringing a bell. I think about her a lot, and wonder how she is spending her time in heaven..
From LisaAnneMadden Apr 24 2013 3:10PM
The Original GPS
Homing pigeons are amazing creatures. They can find their way back over hundreds of miles to their home through all types of weather conditions and dangers and over country they have never seen before. A friend of a friend gave us some of his cull birds and invited us to join his racing club for a season to try racing pigeons and see if we liked it. We have thoroughly enjoyed having a racing team. Training a young team was an interesting learning experience as we dropped the birds at ever increasing distances to prepare them for the season racing as young birds. As they grew stronger and faster, we would try to beat them home from 10 mile or greater drops and we rarely won! They can sustain 50 mph hour flight for long periods of time. A true marvel of the animal kingdom! Without proper management, however, they can breed and grow rapidly, so most responsible racers will have a loft for young birds, a loft for old birds and a loft for breeding..
From goatherdgirl Nov 17 2014 3:26PM