I've had birds most my life and can't imagine a day without walking out my door to spend an hour or the entire day with them. Watching my birds soaring overhead is always special! I race a team of homers from 100 to 500 miles each spring and a young team from 100 to 300 miles each fall. The lovely birds I use for your release are are truly spectacular athletes capable of similar feats!
I grew up in a wonderful neighborhood in San Bernardino, CA, with Little Mountain right behind my home. The neighborhood was loaded with young families, so children poured from virtually every home! There were always activities with so many kids; football, baseball, catching critters by day or night, or hiking and biking around or up the mountain. We built elaborate " forts" into the mountain and gathered Christmas trees during the holidays for roofs of these forts. One of our neighbors across the street got some fancy pigeons when his parents brought home a large aviary. Soon, many of us wanted to try our hand with the birds. We started by gathering discarded wood at construction sites some distance from our homes and dragging the lumber home. My father saw what we were doing and took up the task of helping my brother and me build a proper loft for our prospective birds. He taught me the basics of carpentry at twelve. I've used it all my life. I cedar shingled the roof of that 6 x 8 structure, painted it and finally got birds for it. It's one of my fondest memories with my dad. My interest in racing pigeons was sparked in the sixth grade when my brother, Tom, heard that two boys had stolen birds from a racing fancier, by the name of Mr. Leon King. Tom reported the information to Mr. King and he became our mentor in the world of pigeon racing. On Sunday drives with the family, we'd take the birds with us and release them from increasing distances. We never raced the birds, but dreamed about it. At sixteen, I gave them up in favor of my girlfriend, high school wrestling and a job as a delivery boy for a drug store. Years later, my brother pulled me back into the sport of pigeon racing when he moved north with a team of birds he had been racing in southern California, We started racing in Stockton in 1979 or 80 and I've had birds ever since then. I enjoy sharing the pleasure of these birds with others. Each year I visit schools and share my fascination of birds with fifth or sixth grade students. I start with a short video, and then ask for questions! There's always a chance the questions won't end! After the questions and answers, come the release of a bird from the hand of each child! It takes a couple of hours plus the prep time, but always worth the effort. I also release birds at several Relays for Life each Spring, hoping to lift the spirits of very special people working toward a common goal. In October of 2011, I began an ongoing relationship with Sharing Parents of Sacramento. Sharing Parents is a volunteer support group of parents who have experienced the loss of their baby(ies) from the time of conception through early infancy. Family members of the group release spirit birds from their hands representing their lost loved ones at their annual memorial picnic. My birds and I will continue this program each October. This program was very rewarding for me and, I think, to all involved. When possible, my birds are available at no charge to charitable organizations and local civic events.