Flying Tipplers

from the Kitbox

Why Tipplers?

Across the Los Angeles shipyards in early morning there runs a freeway passing over allowing many commuters to travel to downtown each day. What may catch your eye in the early hours is the countless thousands of pigeons flying over the freeway in an almost endless stream. They glide, soar, and beat their wings for attention as they seem to spew out of an endless source. The result is a cloud of birds without limits or boundaries. Nevertheless, the supply does seem finite in that the cloud appears to resemble a definite shape as if the birds were following a leader. Your mind might be inspired while watching such sights as it certainly has been for me. Such aspirations did much to keep my love for pigeons alive during the few years I was unable to keep them. No doubt most people have experienced a similar situation.

Man's intrigue of the air has certainly spanned the centuries. Man's desire has been to be where only the bird can go--high amongst the clouds. Airplanes, balloons, space ships, gliders, etc., are all manifestations of such a yearning. Could it be the same for you? Could it be actually that man's friend the pigeon is actually a form of longing to fly in limitless capacity, undeterred direction, and boundless area high amid the skies? There is no doubt the tippler pigeon is such a manifestation. Tipplers are not just flying pigeons who glide effortlessly over shipyards for a while. They display and carry out a continuous desire to fly high and far about the sky in a perpetual fashion. Any other pigeon will soon settle about, looking for its home--the ground below. Yet, on the other hand, the tippler's home is assuredly the sky. Notice how pigeons are not the most adept creature on the ground. They were not designed for such. A quick study or observation of their wings, tail, structure, etc., obviously indicates a natural inclination towards effortless flight. Such qualities enthrall a tippler enthusiast because he sees the birds in their natural habitat--the air.

Of course, with every source of energy there is a limited supply. We should never impose our ideal of limitless energy upon our birds, for tipplers do expend energy, in fact, the energy of which we as trainers have supplied in the form of food to each individual bird. But, could the challenge be quenched? Not if the tippler man can help it! The quest for a better bird, a longer flyer, and a more controllable bird will never wane so long as the tippler man is around. Such individuals enjoy the challenge of creating the ideal.

Other pigeons are just as adept at flight so, why tipplers? For some, the excitement aroused from racing pigeons from afar is enough for them. But could it be that they miss out of the true excitement? The pigeon who flies from afar is actually not seen until the end of the race. Therefore the enjoyment or excitement arises from the ANTICIPATION of their arrival. Not so with tipplers! They create a style uniquely their own, raking back and forth, appearing and reappearing as if to say, "See me," "Look at me," or "Watch me fly!" Of course, in such a manner those birds who find themselves in trouble will find relief when the auspicious eyes of the trainer identifies the fatigue. Not so with the racing bird whose trouble signs go unnoticed to the demise not only of the race but also of the bird at times.

Could rollers be a suitable flying bird? Whereas their short-lived excitement is surely thrilling, where is the interaction of bird with trainer? Tippler flyers indeed know their birds well. In fact, the more a trainer has in-depth knowledge of his birds, the better will his results be. His intimacy teaches him the signs to watch for. At times when tipplers learn the routine, their behavior changes from ''trainee" to "trainer." They sometimes approach the loft (though not tired) with the idea that by spreading the tail, going into a partial stall, and knocking that water out of their ears, THEY can induce the droppers to appear. Of course, they're right at times because we as trainers fall for it! A trainer can in this way be trained if he does not carefully watch for the bluff. Hence, we might identify the tippler man as the individual who keenly examines his birds (not so with the roller flyer who merely watches his birds.) Or another way plainly said: tipplers are up because the trainer hasn't said "enough" and the rollers are up because the birds haven't said "enough."

Regardless, individuals must decide for themselves as to what motivates him to keep on flying tipplers or whatever else. Yet, could there ever be anything as rewarding as the final results of painful, extensive, and laborious training of their birds? Tipplers may at times prove to be quite a formidable challenge. Many times there are heartaches, disappointments, losses, and let-downs. These contribute to a true sense of challenge because in Just about every case the fault lies not in the birds but to some mistake of the trainer. To discern the error and correct the situation indeed takes time and much effort. But, who can say the pay-off is not large? No, not monetary pay-off but satisfaction pay-off. To achieve a well-trained flying kit that will fly from dawn to dusk is a marvelous feeling of accomplishment. Why? Because not all will achieve such a feat. Yet, for those brave enough to classify themselves as the most dedicated--to them belong the skies.

So if ever asked "Why Tipplers?" then plainly state the truth--the expected results of hard work and perseverance are all the reward one needs. Somehow, there is the elated thrills that come with each generation of youngsters. Each round of youngsters sometimes brings expected results and sometimes not. However, guaranteed is the aspiration we behold in hoping that in every case we will breed that fine set of young birds that will do a better job than the set before. Even though some birds will be eliminated because of inherently not being able to "make-the-grade," there is a bright future ahead for those that can. We keep on our rigorous program for the hope that somehow our efforts will be rewarded, but isn't it interesting to note how our efforts always seem to be rewarded regardless?

What are pigeons?

Common name for members of the large family Columbidae, land birds, cosmopolitan in temperate and tropical regions, characterized by stout bodies, short necks, small heads, and thick, heavy plumage. The names dove and pigeon are used interchangeably, though the former generally refers to smaller members of the family. The rock dove Columba livia of temperate Europe and W Asia is the wild progenitor of the common street and domestic pigeons. All pigeons have soft swellings (ceres) at the base of the nostrils, feed their young with "pigeon's milk regurgitated from the crops of the parents, and have specialized bills through which they can suck up water steadily, unlike other birds. They eat chiefly fruits and seeds. The Australasian region has two thirds of the 289 species of pigeons, of which the fruit pigeons are the most colorful and the gouras, or crowned pigeons, the largest (to 33 in./84 cm). Many species are valued as game birds; their close relationship to the Gallinae (e.g., pheasants and turkeys) is illustrated by the sand grouse, an Old World pigeon named for its resemblance to the grouse. From the time of Noah, pigeons-especially homing pigeons, which are also used as racing birds-have been used for carrying messages. Although electronics has largely replaced them as messengers, they are still of experimental importance. It is thought that they may navigate by the sun. Monogamous and amorous, pigeons are known for their soft cooing calls. The most common American wild pigeon is the small brown mourning dove Zenaidura carolinensis (sometimes called turtledove), similar to the once abundant passenger pigeon, which was slaughtered indiscriminately and became extinct in 1914. Other wild American species are the band-tailed, red-billed, and white-crowned pigeons, all of the genus Columba, and the gray ground dove Chamaepelia passerina. In Europe the turtledove, rock pigeon or dove, stock dove, and ringdove or wood pigeon are common. Domesticated varieties developed by selective breeding include the fantail, with numerous erectile tail feathers; the Jacobin, with a hoodlike ruff; the tumbler, which turns backward somersaults in flight; the pouter, with an enormous crop; and the quarrelsome carrier, with rosette like eyes and nose wattles. In religion and art the dove symbolizes peace and gentleness, and in Greek mythology it was sacred to Aphrodite. The long-extinct dodo and solitaire were members of this order. Pigeons are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Aves, order Columbiformes, family Columbidae.