Prize winning Black Bantam at Canadian Heritage Breeds 2014 Nationals. © J. Ashley Nixon
“Never leave your camera behind”, it is often said. I was in Red Deer to get my son to a rugby practice. Yes, I know, it’s a long way from Calgary (160km/100 miles) to go to practice, but this is the fall part of winter in Alberta (it spreads icily across about seven months here). A full indoor pitch was available in Westerner Park to help prepare for a sevens tournament in Las Vegas next year with the Calgary Mavericks. Now, said location is a rather large agriculture show ground with several big sheds. We went through the main door, expecting flying rugby balls but instead…..cockerels, chickens, pigeons, ducks and geese. All types of poultry coming to the end of their weekend competition for “Best in Show” at the Canadian Heritage Breeds 2014 Nationals. We found the other sport in the next shed and with that sorted out I grabbed my camera, paid my entrance fee and went back in to see the birds. Wandering around, I had some interesting conversations about what it takes to breed a prize winning bantam, the preferred feather colour for crested ducks and how to tell the sex of a pigeon…
I was talking to Lester, a long-time breeder of fine looking helmet pigeons. “It’s difficult”, he said. He went on to explain that there are a number of methods, including physical examination of the vent (makes sense-this is where the eggs develop) or, surprisingly, the relative length of the toes. The most curious, however is to take a needle and thread, suspend it above the pigeons lower, underbody and watch how it turns. If the needle travels up and down it’s a male; if it goes around in circles, it’s a female. Maybe there is a difference in magnetic fields between the sexes. Some science to investigate in a future blog but meanwhile….. here’s the last of my poultry photos!
Thanks for coming to take a look.