Even if released in a new place thousands of kilometers away, he can almost always come back. Because of this ability, before the telegram was invented, postal pigeons were used to carry messages during war. Julius Caesar even used pigeons to bring news of his conquest of Gaul to Rome around 57 BC.
The carrier pigeon is a variant of the species Columba livia domestica, one of 352 species of pigeons in the Columbidae family listed on the list of The International Ornithological Committee (IOC). Now there are hundreds of breeding pigeons used for various purposes. Pigeons are generally used for racing, ornamental competitions, also for their meat.
About fifty years ago scientists discovered that some animals can actually respond to the Earth’s magnetism. This ability is called magnetoreception. Organisms apparently can use the Earth’s magnetic field as a compass.
Several experiments revealed that pigeons also use their scent to mark a location when they are away from their cage. Through the scent carried by the wind, the dove seemed to draw a map in his memory. New pigeons switch back to visual navigation when they are near the cage. It appears that the pigeons are using several pieces of information or combining them together to come up with the best direction.
The certainty that the sense of smell is directly involved in the navigation system can be proved when pigeons lose their sense of smell. When this sense is absent or disturbed, then he will be confused.
Guilford explained, with this sense of smell, it is likely that birds will learn the rough composition of changes in the atmosphere that are characteristic of their regions of origin. Birds will also compare it to being influenced by the wind coming from a different direction. Watery areas such as open seas, for example, are certainly different from dry land areas.
Previously there were two main opinions regarding how magnetoreception works. First, carrier pigeons and other migratory birds have proteins in their retinas called cryptochromes . With it, birds make it possible to see the Earth’s magnetic field.
Second, through clumps of magnetic material in certain organs. For example, in the inner ear of a pigeon. These metallic particles known as cuticulosomes are tiny, softer than a grain of sand.
“When traced, this bird uses landscapes, rivers, roads and hills to mark the way home, so the fog and low clouds are an obstacle,” quoted the Guardian.
There have been reports of thousands of pigeons being lost by a storm in a race. Thousands of pigeons released in the south of France were supposed to arrive in Belgium. But a summer storm made the birds disoriented, exhausted, and turned to fly towards Germany instead. As a result, hobbyists also lose. Understandably racing pigeons are expensive.
Nicknamed the Crowned Dove, this bird only exists in Papua
The Land of Papua has a variety of endemic bird species. One of them is Mambruk, who has become the mascot of Manokwari City, the capital of West Papua Province. The mambruk bird looks like a dove but has a fan-like crown.
In lowland forest areas, hunting for mambruk is unavoidable. The goal can be for fun or hobby, because this bird has a very beautiful shape, and is also hunted for the source of animal protein needs.
Mambruk reproduce by laying eggs. Each female will produce one egg. In the past, mambruk in Biak were hunted by residents to be used as food, or caught to be kept as pets.
To prevent it from becoming extinct, the Indonesian government has designated it as a protected animal by including this species in Law no. 5 of 1990 concerning Conservation of Biological Resources and Their Ecosystems and Regulation of the Minister of Environment and Forestry Number 106 of 2018 concerning Protected Plant and Animal Species.
Mambruk conservation activities can be carried out in-situ [in their natural habitat], such as through species protection, habitat and population development, as well as ex-situ conservation [outside their natural habitat], among others, through captive breeding activities. One of the captive breeding sites that have successfully bred the victoria mambruk is the Mega Bird and Orchid Farm [MBOF] in Bogor, West Java.
The explanation above is mentioned in a study published in the journal Conservation Media Vol. 17 Number 3, December 2012. The research is entitled “Breeding Techniques and Daily Activities of Victorian Mambruk at Mega Bird and Orchid Farm, Bogor, West Java” written by Angga Prayana, Burhanuddi Masy’ud, and Erna Suzanna. According to them, the success of the process of breeding mambruk birds until they develop is very well influenced by success in the adaptation process, namely the efforts of managers in adapting birds from nature to the captive environment as their new habitat.
At MBOF, the management’s adaptation effort is to place newly arrived swarmed birds in a separate cage [quarantine]. This step is taken to prevent stress. Gradually the birds are given feed and their adaptation progress is monitored. If it is deemed that adaptation has occurred, as indicated by increased feed consumption, is no longer stressed and begins to look calm and occupies or utilizes all the cage space in its entire daily activities, then the bird is then placed in the maintenance cage until it breeds.
Meanwhile, a senior researcher from the Papua Archaeological Center, Hari Suroto said, one of the things that poses a threat to the mambruk bird is also the character of the mambruk bird that easily believes in humans, making it easier for this bird to be shot with arrows and then consumed, or caught and sold as pets.
According to him, mambruk or crown dove in the past was used by the Dutch as the name of an airline in Papua until 1962 called de kroonduif, which means crown dove, as a subsidiary of the Dutch KLM airline, and based at Mokmer Airport, Biak.
“The de kroonduif airline serves flights in the Papua region as well as to Sydney and Papua New Guinea. Then, Indonesia de kroonduif changed the name to Merpati Nusantara airline,” explained Hari.
According to Hari, one type of mambruk bird, Goura scheepmakeri, has a meaning. For example, the name goura is the original name and is thought to have come from the Fak-fak area, while scheepmakeri is the name of a Dutch soldier; C. Scheepmaker who was also a bird collector in the 19th century.
Pigeon Fighting is Increasingly
According to him, the pigeon racing competition is not a problem, because pigeons are a type of domesticated animal, namely the adoption of animals from the wild into the everyday environment of humans. In essence, long tamed and abundant
Two people stand on an old car tire which is used as a base for the flapping of the dove pair. While waiting for the male dove to arrive, the two people seemed to be communicating in the arena ring made of used tires during the Sprint Racing Pigeon Competition in Mencorek Hamlet, Brondong District, Lamongan Regency, East Java.
By using cell phones and HT (Handy Talky) the two people who served as jockeys seemed to be communicating with a traveler or a team whose role was to release the male doves. The release distance is between 500 meters and 1000 meters from the race arena ring.
Behind the jockeys there is a team that provides support, occasionally there are those who point towards the front indicating that the bird with the Latin name Columbidae has been seen in plain sight.
Meanwhile, the atmosphere grew boisterous when the two pigeons sped towards the jockey who was flapping his female dove.
“The dove sprint race has a simple scoring system, whoever catches it quickly and doesn’t fall off the ring wins. Even though he was fast, he didn’t catch it correctly, he lost,” said Sukar Juli, one of the sprint racing pigeon jockeys, on Friday (11/14/2019).
Pigeons are Quite Smart
Pigeons are one type of bird that is quite smart, has a strong memory, navigational ability, and has a natural instinct that can return to the nest even though it has flown high for a long distance and for a long time.
Starting from the matchmaking process when the pigeons were 4 months old, then they were trained to fly. There is a resting period where when the female dove starts laying eggs, the eggs are then discarded. Up to 9 times the egg is thrown away, the new pigeon is ready to be contested. For the spawning period, that is once a week. If the egg is not thrown away, it is believed that the pigeon will not have the strength to enter the race.
In addition, the character of the pigeon is also very calculated, from the body posture which must be good, the wings and body must have a hard character. As for the treatment pattern, it must be regular, every night given herbal intake.
Caring for pigeons, for fans, is just a family animal or a hobby. Although not a few also use it for business. This pigeon is growing with the pigeon racing competition.
That way, the potential of the dove that is getting attention at this time is its flying agility. The more often the pigeons win, the more expensive the price is. “I once sold Rp. 900 thousand, just went up or wanted to work, he was not even one year old. If I have a boss, the price is up to IDR 40-50 million,” said Juli, adding.
This type of fowl from the Columbiformers order has several advantages compared to other bird species, namely pigeons can fly up to about 65-80 km/hour, and in one day can fly as far as about 965 km.
There are two qualifications that are trained for flying agility, namely pigeons flying flat (flat racing) and flying high (high racing). Flat racing catch is level flight speed and alighting accuracy on its partner which is in the hands of the jockey for racing pigeons after being flown from a certain distance.
As for the high racing agility for racer pigeons, it is descending at high speed from the air and entering the restricted circle, where the jockey and his female partner await their arrival.
For the flat racing system, Habib Fadeli (27), the same hobbyist, explained that the system starts with participant registration. After that, a draw was carried out, then categorized based on the area of origin of the pigeons.
Each of these participants brought up to 6 pairs of pigeons. As for participants who take part, at least 50 people, up to hundreds of participants. Depending on the size of the number of contest prizes.