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For the love of birds

Pigeon show draws more than 300 entries

Staff photo by Fritz Busch Trevor Nau of St. James holds one of his pigeons, an English Pouter, at the New Ulm Poultry & Pigeon Association pigeon show at the Brown County Fairgrounds Saturday.

NEW ULM — Minnesota’s oldest pigeon and poultry club, the Brown County Pigeon & Poultry Association, kept its show streak alive with a pigeon show at the Brown County Fairgrounds Saturday.

The club, which promotes friendship and sportsmanship, drew more than 300 pigeons in 33 entries from Minnesota, South Dakota and Iowa.

Trevor Nau of St. James, who helped set up and take down the indoor show, was Reserve Show Champion with a Norwich OH pigeon.

“I like the competition. I’m an old athlete. And I like improving the breed every year,” Nau said.

Wayne Fischer of Arlington, S.D. was show judge.

“I like the challenge of competing. Each breed has a standard, ideal type bird according to color and markings. Breeders try to match their birds to the standards,” Fischer said.

Fischer said he likes female English Pouter pigeons the most because they tend to be more tame and personable.

English Pouters are also described as a breed of fancy pigeon developed over many years of selective breeding.

Jim Brandt of Decorah, Iowa said his birds have a calming effect on him.

“I’d keep birds even if I didn’t show them,” Brandt said. “I like seeing them after I come home from work. I’ve met people who raise pigeons from all over the world and enjoy that too.”

Brandt said pigeons are smarter than many people think.

“If you wear different clothes than you normally have on when you see the, they will really look you over. They’re very intelligent and can tell you are wearing different clothes,” said Brandt.

Larry Wilmes of Mankato said he enjoys the diversity of the birds and the people who raise them.

“I like hanging out with the birds. It’s fun and my wife lets me do it, along with spending time with the grandkids,” said Wilmes.

Ken Berns of Watertown, S.D. said he’s been raising pigeons for 60 years.

“They’re the type of pet that helps me when I’m otherwise having a bad day,” Berns said. “It’s always fun to see them.”

The New Ulm club has an avid closed Facebook group and an extensive website on Angelfire.com.

According to the Pigeon Resource Center:

• Pigeons can recognize all 26 English language letters and can differentiate between two different human beings in a photo when rewarded with food for doing so.

• Pigeons save hundreds of thousands of human lives by carrying messages across enemy lines in the First and Second World Wars.

• Pigeons were carried on warships, carrying messages of details of ships sinking after German U-boat attacks. This often led to survivors being rescued.

• Pigeons are able to return to their roost using roads to navigate.

• Pigeons can see ultra-violet light, part of the spectrum that humans can’t see, which is a reason why they are so well adapted to lifesaving at sea.

According to the Urban Wildlife Society, pigeons:

• Provide good company to senior citizens and children.

• Are loyal, affectionate and make great friends.

• Eat food we dispose of as litter.

• Primarily eat seeds including weed seeds.

(Fritz Busch can be emailed at fbusch@nujournal.com).

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