Flying Tipplers

from the Kitbox


Probably one of the most common methods of determining the value of a racing pigeon is to gaze into its eye and examine its "eye sign." This method of perceiving the worth of a bird is also known to roller fanciers as "expression." Yet with, tipplers the eyes can he revealing for yet another reason. As with other breeds, the eye of a young tippler in usually dark until about six weeks of age (depending an the individual) when it will turn light. Old timers used this change as indicative of the time when the smartness or intelligence has developed in a youngster. Although such a transformation of the eye may be totally independent of the intelligence of a bird, it may be coincidence that can become very useful.

The young tippler at about 4 weeks of age can he weaned and placed into the training routine. This period at time is new experience for the bird. He certainly at this point has not learned about the world high amid the clouds let alone all of the distinct loft arrangements: trap, perch, lights, etc.. Therefore, the young bird has not "bonded" a familiarity with home as of yet. Not to escape notice, however, is the fact that the young bird has quite the strength to fly a mile if startled, encouraged in any way to take to the air. If no familiarity of loft has been established, the young squeaker on the wing will hardly realize his home. As a result, young tipplers at this stage quickly lose themselves if the surroundings allow for a maze of obstructions (i.e.. trees, wires, fences, buildings etc.)

Creating a well established routine does much to teach young birds the ropes. If we expect a team or kit of tipplers to establish themselves in the air, then we certainly could not expect them to demonstrate or exhibit excellent training and routine without teaching them first to trap and respond to our signal. Only after such will the birds he assured to d0 what they are supposed to do when their 3 to 4 hour training excursion has reached its conclusion. Wisdom dictates then, that before a bird is truly given liberty he must readily identify with the dropper for food, Also, the interior of the loft (with all its perches, kit boxes, dishes, etc..) must be familiar to him. The reason is obvious, the tippler shouldn't feel timid or shy when trapping and entering the loft. Time spent on such simple procedures early on is time well spent!

During such initial training procedures, the young bird's body is changing into a lean one because of the limited feeding of once per day. The fat incurred while being reared in the nest is a necessary part of growth. Likewise, when learning to eat an his own. tipplers do not yet have the ability to guzzle food in enormous proportions as do the parents. During this growth period, the fat that has built up serves as a substitute for the reduced amount of food until the bird is "up to speed.'' Birds flying 4 hours 3 times per week will NOT have fat left on their bodies. Sadly though, many err by not sticking to just wheat or barley during this time. Some people use a grain mix that contains enormous amounts of carbohydrates which never permit the bird to lose its baby fat. No wonder they don't understand why their birds only fly one hour. Realize that it takes time for all of this to happen.

In reflecting back to the intelligence of the squeaker, recall that one of the inherent qualities that make tipplers do what they do is their gregarious instinct. The desire to kit together is what invigorates the steadfast loyalty to the air. Many times getting two inexperienced birds down can be troublesome when each bird is "egged on" or encouraged by the other to continue nervously and not pitch when summoned. Young 5 week old birds do not manifest this quality so readily and could very easily lose themselves as they fly abroad in a single, meandering fashion. Birds slightly older have established a group instinct during their daily routine. By extension then, as each bird takes to the air, their now manifested characteristic exhibits itself in that the bird almost immediately desires to kit. Bear in mind that such would also be reflective of the individual circumstances of the day. For example, the wind may influence their abilities or other birds in the air may be too high for proper grouping. This rather intriguing aspect of tippler characteristics is further reason to ascertain correctly the time to give a bird his freedom for the first time.

By considering only a few items that help us the analyze the abilities of young tipplers, we come to a conclusion. The indication seems to be that young tipplers can be given their initial freedom at about the same time as is the clearing of the eye. Perhaps not being a stark revelation, this consensus is actually the sensible method used by many of the "old timers." Although there are many other dependent aspects of settling that also come into play that need consideration, those who seem to lose a lot of birds settling may do well in observing tippler "eye sign."