No matter what your views on racing pigeon eyes are, studying eye sign can give you lots of information about your pigeons and can greatly speed up your success. The more information you can acquire about your birds the better.
Eye sign is only a very small part of the large pigeon racing picture and decisions on racing or breeding should never be made solely on eye sign alone.
There are many other factors besides eye sign that a fancier should look at in order to be successful in pigeon racing. Some of the main factors are ancestry, breeding ability, racing ability, size, shape, feathering and anatomy etc.
Knowledge about eye sign is most effective when used for breeding selection purposes. Once you become more experienced and comfortable, it can also be used as a guide to figure out birds having racing capabilities.
Good experience in judging the eye can greatly assist you in breeding better birds and staying on top as well as allowing you to keep fewer and better birds rather than a lot of worthless ones.
Racing Pigeon Eyes – Tools of Trade
When it comes to eye sign there are only two tools that a fancier will need for successful eye sign research. The loupe and light. The loupe will allow you to magnify the pigeon’s eye while you examine it. Proper lighting will allow you to see the reflex action of the pupil the moment the light hits the eye. It is in this first second of the reflex action that you will learn the value of a bird as a breeder.
Reflex is the action of the eye muscles pulling the iris proper down over the pupil giving the impression of the pupil getting smaller when the light hits it. In reality it does not move at all. This reflex action is what allows us to make our best judgment of the eye and its value by allowing the circles to be seen in an enlarged state.
This is the only proper way of making a grading. You will want to try to block out as much light as possible when putting the loupe in your eye, so that you will get a good look at the eyes reflex action.
You will want to conduct your eye sign research with the brightest sunlight possible. Usually at high noon, this will give you the most accurate results.
Always remember to check both eyes. No two bird’s eyes are the same just as both eyes of the same bird are not the same. It is also important to remember to look at both eyes. The left eye will generally show you the best eye sign quality of each bird.
Getting in Position To Observe Pigeon Eye
When examining your birds in the sunlight you will want to keep the sun at your back. Hold the pigeon in front of you shaded from the sun in your right hand and secure the pigeon’s beak with three fingers of your left hand.
Hold the bird up to your eye while placing the backs of your thumbs up against your cheek and remember to keep the eye still shaded from the sun.
Now while the pigeon’s eye is up against the loupe make sure it is in focus. Once the bird is in place and the loupe is focused twist your back to let the sunlight hit the pigeon’s eye.
It is at this split second that you will be able to the reflex action of the eye and see all that is needed to make your observation of eye sign.
Elements of the Racing Pigeon Eyes
There are five elements of the eye that you will need to familiarize yourself with. These five elements are also known as the “five circles”. They consist of the pupil, the circle of correlation, the circle of adaption, the iris and the health ring.
The pupil must be jet black in colour and be completely round. You should look for defects in the pupil such as miss-shaped or oval looking pupils. The pupil must also dilate (shrink) quickly under strong light this is the reflex action we talked about earlier. Some of the key points of pupil are:
- Should be as small and round as possible and dilate quickly in strong light.
- Should contain “clusters” tiny dots of gold or silver depending on eye color.
Circle of Correlation
Next is the circle of correlation also known as the color circle. This circle must be complete, rich in color, and have very good width. You will hear dozen of different eye colors but in reality they are variant of 2 basic colors yellow & blue.
Equally important to remember that no color is more valuable than the others. They are all equal some may however be rarer than others but that is the only difference. The wider the color circles band the better for breeding purposes.
- The size of the “coc” can range from extremely narrow to extremely wide (the wider the better). Wide Circle of Correlation birds are best for breeding.
- Ridges resembles to mountain range, the speed lines which run diagonally indicates faster birds.
- Long distance lines which run with the circle indicate birds that can go the distance for 12 to 14 hours without too much stress or fatigue.
Circle of Adaption
Up next is the circle of adaption, this circle lies over the color circle appearing as a Smokey covering and will appear in different shades ranging from a really light grey shade to an almost dense black to a greenish looking black. It is within the circle of adaption that we find the inner rings that all top breeders must have.
No matter how dense the coloring may be with practice you will still be able to see through the coloring and discover the inner rings if present. The circle of adaption can vary in size and shape. They can vary from very narrow to extremely wide the wider being better in all cases. Important to realize points of the circle of adaption:
- jet black but may also be greenish or greyish black as well.
- Normally difficult to see with the naked eye.
- Comes in various sizes and shapes. Shape can vary along the edges of the circle can be smooth, wrinkled also known as “bottle cap” tear drop and plain.
The iris will be filled with life and color in most birds and comes in many shades. For example red, orange, brown, and dark red to name a select few. The iris must be rich in both color and depth. Most exceptional birds will have full colored irises with deep valleys and high mountains present. Key points of the iris:
- Clarity, richness and depth of color are all important attributes of the iris.
- Mountains and valleys should be present.
Health Circle of Pigeon Eye
The fifth and final element of the eye is the health ring or health circle. This ring provides the blood supply to the eye. Show you healthy birds that will be able to fly 12 to 14 hours without great fatigue.
This fifth circle is much coveted among eye sign practicing fanciers and is present in the eyes of most of the top racers and breeders. It is located at the extreme outer edge of the eye. Will appear either dark black or greyish except in red birds where it will be reddish brown or a lighter color. Key points of the health circle:
- May appear either dark black or greyish or reddish brown or a lighter color in red birds.
- Depth of color will also change to show that a bird is coming into form.
Racing Pigeon Eyes Selection
Now that we have the basics of eye sign. We are going to use these elements as a guide for sorting and picking our birds. Although eye sign is more commonly used for breeding purposes first. There are few criteria’s for using it to choose racers as well.
Most all race winning sprinters have one common denominator in their eyes; the iris, but more specifically the iris color. 99% of the winning sprinters eyes are all a very bright, intense, fiery red. The color circle of a sprinting eye is best if they are clean-cut with no dust or lines and should have good width with strong depth of color. This color circle paired with the intense, fiery red iris makes for a strong sprinting eye.
Middle and Long-Distance Pigeon Eyes
Middle and long-distance racing pigeons are birds that win from distances between 300 to 700 miles/1120 km. In these birds the eye coloration tends to be very rich as if to jump out at you.
These long-distance eyes also don’t need to be as clearly defined as the sprinters eyes. These eye colors and circles tend to blend together and they come in all colors and shades. You will also find a lot of long distance eyes which contain dust especially in the iris.
Breeding Eyes of Pigeons
This is where eye sign plays a most important role in the breeding selection. We will start with the iris the breeders must carry the strongest iris of all with the deepest color possible. No matter what shade it is, depth of color is the most important quality here.
Most Good breeder’s eyes also contain metallic qualities in the coloration of the eye and should seem to almost sparkle when you look at them. Now within the circle of adaption we find a major element to a good breeding eye “the inner rings”.
The more inner rings the better the breeding quality of the bird. The inner rings look like thin grey or black lines lying over the color circle. The inner rings should also be accompanied by a strong “mountain range” dark colored peaks and canyons throughout the iris and a good, rich outer circle being the same color as either the color circle or circle of adaption.
Avoid These Pigeon Eyes For Selection
There are some racing pigeon eyes sign that are no good to us as fanciers. You should get rid of any pigeons that have over large or small pupils. The pupil should be proportionate to the rest of the eye. You should also cull pigeons with thin color circles and birds with thin circle of adaptions.
Pigeons with weak or dull iris pigmentation and pigeons with no outer circle at all are also eye qualities to avoid in your pigeons. Just by sticking to these parameters you should be able to improve your stock in a couple of breeding seasons.
Article Summary – Racing Pigeon Eyes
There are a few key points to racing pigeon eyes that are very important to remember let’s take a look at a few of them, General, Success will not happen overnight,
- Do not base decisions solely on eye sign, eye sign is only a piece of the puzzle.
- Practice makes perfect.
- Use eye sign for breeding purposes first and racing purposes second.
- Whatever the color might be the iris must always be strong, rich and deep and we must see a good number of peaks and canyons (mountain range) in the eye.
- The circle of adaption must always carry the breeding sign; the inner rings.
- The metallic color circles are the best producers, but always look for the mauve/pink in the violet series of the eyes.
- Just like the breeding eye the iris of the racing eye must be rich, strong and deep.
- Look for wide color circles that run out well and meet up with the outer circles.
Important Pigeon Eye Information
The fiery red iris makes for a strong sprinter while the liver red iris is more suitable for long tom extreme distances. Just remember the information here are only guidelines, do not set your heart on a pigeon just because they possess some of these qualities in the eye.
A strong racing pigeon must also have qualities in it such as good ancestry, strong body, size and shape, feather quality so on and so forth along with proper training, feeding and healthcare regimen.
It is the eye sign teamed up with all these other qualities that make for strong pigeons. It is also important to remember that you must be very careful when reading the eye because some qualities can be easy to misinterpret, and you could end up getting it all wrong in the end, but if you practice and follow these simple guidelines it won’t be too long before you get the hang of it.