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Limited Race For Egyptian Swifts

by Adel Salem

Thirteen ES cover 55 kilometers in 50 minuets

It would have been an ambitious dream with no foundation to make fancy pigeons home from a distance of 40 miles(65 KM). The following article should explain how that dream has evolved into reality. The inception of this idea started while my son, Omar, and I were participating in our first reputable show "The California Pageant. Like many other large and well-organized shows, the pageant includes many varieties of breeds that are popular and well rooted. Some are even given credit for being developed in the USA to better standards than those of other parts of the world are. For that reason a new breed will find it very hard to compete and set a foothold in the block unless something provocative is done.

Fanciers who have seen the Egyptian Swifts (ES) breed in the show have indeed admired their colors and posture. However I felt the massage is not crossing well, when it came to explaining how they fly, maneuver and how intelligent they really are. Many doubting, and subjective questions were cast, others I thought were humorous, such as do they need an extra long board or some sort of runway to become airborne? Others questioned their streamlining or the tightness of the body etc. Many of these fanciers after all are in the flying business for years and in essence have asked legitimate questions. After all I am asking them directly or indirectly to acquire the breed. To link this gab one must initiate strong and provocative stimuli hopefully to be able to leave a long lasting impression. What could that be? I had hoped to reach an answer. As a first step I decided to invite fanciers from different places to watch the pigeon flying in action to get their first hand impression. In spite of their admiration while watching the birds scouting at different altitudes and maneuvering the Peregrine Falcon, I felt I still had some additional work to be done to distinguish this breed from the rest of the fancy and other flying pigeons.

The Racing Idea:
Utilizing the natural behavior of some good blood lines in the E.S. Breeds which I can summarize them again in the following:

1. Scouting for periods of time that could go up to an hour.
2. Homing back after being sold for period of time.
3. Short distance toss ups in Egypt (their original home), for challenging purposes, for distances of five to ten miles without any prior training.

The above facts have alerted me to the fact that I could carry on a similar idea in the US with the possibility of even ameliorating on it. Started with some good flying, but not the best looking birds from ten miles initially, then doubling the distance from the opposite direction with fair number returning, thus giving me a clue that with proper training some of these breeds could reach up to 100 miles for some of these birds.

Race Strategy:All my birds could fly for a minimum of two hours when trained, however; some are less intelligent than others are. I had to be careful to strike a balance among all the groups to be able to have at least one bird of every major group in the event. From more than thirty birds, I selected twenty-three strong feathered birds representing each group. These have a tendency to scout. The others, unless excellent looking birds were all culled.

Land topography and weather condition in San Diego, California
Deep canyons and High Mountain ranges, reaching for up 3,000 feet. Usually little rains in May and mostly overcast with nice sunny afternoons.

Actual training and unfortunate events
At the end of March, I planned to train for up to 40 miles. Invitations were sent for a dozen of people as well as an open invitation in the Middle Eastern and highflying newsletter to have the event on the first Sunday of May. March was sunny mostly, making it fun to take the birds for tosses from around the house in different direction of 2 to 5 miles. Thereafter I increased the distance in one direction by 5 miles increments reaching 20 miles that way. April was cloudy and rainy most of the time forcing me to put off the training many times. Upon seeing any glimpse of the sun, I would rush and take the birds for a toss up, trying to meet the deadline of the event. Depending on the weather the birds could make it back in less than 1 hour and up to 2 hours. Lacking the proper experience the racing pigeon fancier has, I ran into deep trouble on April 19th. I let them loose at 40 miles prior to anticipated storm while drizzling intermittently with 30 miles/hour wind in the afternoon. Waiting for them at home anticipating their return in 2 hours at maximum but at no avail. Almost three hours before the birds started to dribble back one after another. Normally they return as one group, similar to their normal flying pattern. I squatted down on the grass on a verge of having a heart attack. The last bird to come that day was after the sunset, after all the birds were fed and locked. That was a little cheerful, sort of taking someone off the respirator and making him breathe on his own again. My losses that day was heavy, ten out of the twenty-three have not returned. I could not sleep one minute throughout the night. The following day we were experiencing rains, with occasional thunder in the background. The third day the rain subsided with ominous dark clouds still lingering. But for me it looked very bright upon the returning of three more birds. The birds were all males, Recessive Red, Blue Velvet (Gazgandi), and an Otati. That was so meaningful because my plan in representing each breed with at least one bird is once again revived. One more Otati came back 6 weeks later, cheering the entire family including my wife who normally disassociates herself from the all pigeons activities.

How did the various groups fare during training
1. Anbary Asmar group: Started with four birds, none lost neither during training nor in the final event.
2. Otatis: Started with four birds. One was consistently coming late in most of the tosses, decided to hold him from the final event. The fourth was lost for six weeks before returning back. Obviously he missed the race. 
3. Safi: Started with two. One was coming late at all times and held from the race. The other did very well.
4. Bolk: Lost one young female, the other two males did excellent.
5. Mesawed: lost one young female. One male did well.
6. Reds: one beautiful young cook was lost. The second cock and the only 1993 bird in the entire flock was late for two days from 40 miles trial, but I had to include him in the final since he was the only red I had left. He did well in the final.
7. Blue velvet: lost female Blue Velvet. A third Blue Velvet was also lost for 2 days, but performed well in the race.
8.Rehani: lost the only black bird I had. This group is not a keen flying group.

Postponing the race and rescheduling at a later date.
Again it turned cloudy with light drizzle at the end of the week. The original race date was set to be on Sunday the first day of May. However, by Saturday it was pouring. I called the people whom I had invited and regrettably called the event off and had it rescheduled for May 29th. The weather went unusually sour for almost the entirety of the month, for that I could not take the birds for any additional tosses. The weekend before the race looked ideal for flying, prompting me to take the thirteen birds that were intended to be flown for a final training session from where they were going to be released on Memorial Day May the 29th, 1995
Refereeing the event the NPA president, John Heppner, who was very exited about what he thought a new trend in the fancy pigeon hobby and indeed "he went for it". Bob Nolan an excellent organizer and very helpful gentleman, Lynn Watson who taped the entire event, Sieglinda Tate who added a soft touch to the event and john Cazacu a fellow Canadian who is in the high flying Armenian tumblers and was here to attend the event. Heppner checked the band numbers of four birds from a tally sheet that included the band number of each of the thirteen birds, and a brief description of each, as he examined their feathers and markings. The following is the list of the raced birds with other related information:


Breed                        Year              Band number

Anbary Asmar          1994             NPA 215

Anbary Asmar          1994             NPA 202

Anbary Asmar          1994             NPA 254

Anbary Asmar          1994             NPA 245

Blue velvet                1994             NPA 231

Mesawed                   1994            NPA 233

Otati Andalusian      1994            NPA 253

Otati Mehalawi         1994            NPA 239

Otati Saboni             1994            NPA 62

Red                            1993            NPA 3544

Safi                            1994            NPA 200

Walnut Bolk              1994            NPA 229

Walnut Bolk              1994            NPA 203

The birds were released from a distance of 33.5 Air miles according to the San Diego, Gilispee airport charts at 11:30 AM. They took few circles upon their release to become almost invisible, heading toward home and again making a turn in our direction to fly with a flock of Ravens, then taking a sharp swing south heading home. We arrived home at 12:15 PM to find out that several other guests were waiting among them Jim Warren the president of San Diego Racing Pigeon Club. Everybody cheered when the flock of 13 birds appeared on sight at 12:25 PM. It took them 55 minutes to cover the 33.5 air miles. If flown on straight line without zigzagging, their approximate speed would have been around 35-40 miles/hr.


Future events:
Could this lead to similar or even more challenging events? Whether in San Diego or other parts of the US or the world. How about other fancy breeds or other fanciers who claim they fly their birds for hours? Could they arrange for comparable events?
How about 50 or even 100 miles?
I welcome any takers and or fresh ideas!

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