'They are the athletes of the sky': Pigeon breeders fear for the sport's future

  • There is now only one pigeon club in Jersey, with fears the sport could die out

Jersey's last pigeon racing club fears the sport may die out in the Channel Islands.

Jersey Flying Society are concerned that young people are not taking up the sport - and want to change perceptions of the bird.

"When the older people go, the young ones don't come into it", says pigeon fancier and club member Bryan Stubbs.

For Bryan, the birds are more than just pets: "Pigeons are called the athletes of the sky - that is exactly what they are."

  • Bryan Stubbs, a Jersey pigeon fancier, talks about why his birds are "athletes".

At one point there were four clubs on the island, but that is down to just one.

The first pigeon racing club Bryan joined in Jersey had "a 30-member limit" and he "only just scraped in".

"Now - I don't think there's 30 members in all the Channel Islands," says Bryan.

"I don't think you've got to be born into a pigeon family to keep racing pigeons".

"It is time-consuming," he added. "It is seven days a week."

While not everyone may share this same love for pigeons, the birds proved incredibly useful during war times for delivering messages.

Pigeons received the most 'Dickin Medals' - known as the Animal Victoria Cross - out of any creature for their efforts in the Second World War.

The birds' aptitude for this task was down to their strong homing instinct and ability to navigate.

Pigeons received more medals than any other animal during World War Two.

There is still uncertainty surrounding how exactly pigeons are able to find their way home - with theories ranging from using landmarks to tracking the sun.

It has long puzzled the oldest member of Jersey's Flying Society - who started racing in 1954.

"Nobody knows," says Keith Duffin .

"That's the biggest thing about it, I think. How they find their way back, after five or six hundred miles."

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