Losing dewlaps (Adana)

Extremely rare but exist in USA

Losing dewlaps (Adana)

Postby Shaun » Fri Mar 18, 2011 10:47 am

Hello. I joined recently and was looking forward to asking some questions. I'd no sooner registered when I went to let out my 'kit' of just four dewlaps. Ten minutes later they'd gone. This has happened a number of time since I took them on about 18 months ago, as a change to rollers, which were doing my head in.

It goes something like this: I had no problem getting the dewlaps in the air as youngsters, whereas I'd been warned that it can be difficult. I also had no problem in getting them to dive, once they'd been flying a while. Given that their usual habit is to circle the lofts at a good height...when I say circle, they won't necessarily be right overhead, but they can clearly see the lofts from where they are, so they're always in sight. However, on one particular day I watched six of them drift, then they were out of sight. Only one of the six ever returned.

The next time one dewlap wouldn't come in one day, so I left it on the loft top for the night. It was still there the next morning, but still wouldn't come in. An hour later it was gone. I had a phone call a couple of days later from the club I joined to say this particular bird was 15 miles away, having been drawn into a guy's racing pigeon loft. I had to go and pick it up. Why did it leave its loft and fly 15 miles away?

The next incident was in January of this year. Five dewlaps went out for their usual fly. It was a clear sky. I watched them climb higher than usual, then they were out of sight. Three came back; two didn't. Next day the club rang to say one of them was 50 miles away sitting in someone's outhouse.

This week was the final straw. I let out my four remaining dewlaps. The sky was overcast, but they climbed into the mist and they were gone. None has returned.

I've now lost every bird I've bred. All of them were between a few months and just over a year old. What the hell possesses them to suddenly do what they do, having been flying without incident for months on end? Is this why people give up with dewlaps - I'd always thought it was because keepers couldn't train them properly.

So, I'm at the crossroads now. I just have my two pairs of breeders and one squab left. Could it be time to try again with another diving breed, or do I just have a family of dewlaps which are prone to getting lost?

Incidentally, of the two pairs I have, two birds are UK bred, but the other two are original imports to the UK from Germany, rung 2002.

Any advice would be appreciated.

Posts: 2
Joined: Tue Mar 15, 2011 7:55 am
Location: England
Breeds: Dewlaps and Birmingham rollers

Re: Losing dewlaps (Adana)

Postby Kurt Gürsu » Mon Mar 21, 2011 9:18 pm

Hi Shaun,
You know, reading all this it just sounds strange to me.
I think, it would be weird for any breed to be honest not just Adana.
I have no idea what is happenning to your birds.
I can see a few minor things maybe like flying more then 3 birds at a time or letting them go too high but not enough reason to what you have been experiencing.
Maybe, they are getting attacked by something???
That high I would assume a peregrine.
Then again what is the story with the ones just taking off from the coop???
Did that bird fly off in front of you and went 15 miles or it was on top of the coop when you saw him and next time it wasn't there??
I am wondering if he got attacked also.
I have heard birds abandoning their lofts because of constant irritation by different animals but I am not sure what is happening with yours.
In any case it must be very frustrating.
I wish you luck.

I can say one thing it is not because of the breed.
If that was the case it would be chaos.
There isn't a loft with out at least 20 lofts close by in eye sight.
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Kurt Gürsu
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Breeds: Takla, Kelebek

Re: Losing dewlaps (Adana)

Postby Shaun » Tue Mar 22, 2011 12:49 am

Thanks, Kurt, for your observations.

I don't have any peregrines where I am, but I've always been tormented by sparrowhawks. This is largely why I gave up with rollers, as they were easy pickings. I couldn't fly them between the end of autumn and well into spring, as they'd be picked off one a day. One of the pleasures of keeping dewlaps is that they've never been targeted by hawks. I think the reason is twofold: first they're flown in smaller groups and, secondly, they're faster and a more direct flying bird. Rollers take off and land like aeroplanes, and the sometimes endless circling on the way up and down means a hawk can get amongst them quite easily.

Anyway, when it comes to any pigeon problems, the finger is often pointed at the feed, especially when birds rise too high. I've had the same finger pointed at me having lost so many dewlaps. Unfortunately, there are no hard and fast rules here, as the advice I was given simply didn't work. A prolific Dutch breeder of dewlaps feeds his solely on milo (red dari). In most pigeon circles, this is considered not a complete food, and it tends to be used for short periods for one reason or another, or as part of a feed mix. Typically, roller flyers will have a 50/50 mix of milo with the better all-round wheat. But this Dutch guy has managed very successfully on just milo, so I gave that a whirl. No joy, as the birds flew low and just wanted to come down after a few minutes.

Next came just wheat, then wheat and milo, but neither made the dewlaps lift to a decent flying height. I eventually settled for a two thirds wheat/one third general mix of peas plus other seeds/grains. This had the desired effect and so I had my dewlaps at a decent height. However, some are suggesting to me that this diet is too rich and this is what might be causing them to lift too high. To that I have to respond that if that were the case they would lift beyond dropper control regularly. As it is, it's only on the odd occasion when they go to high and get lost. I'm reluctant to switch to a 'safer' diet of, say, just wheat, if that means they don't fly and dive as I would wish.

But even if the diet is too rich and sometimes this means the birds fly higher than usual, this brings me to the core of the problem: their homing instinct seems pretty poor, and I hadn't appreciated that. Since I lost the last four a week ago, I've just had a call to say that one of them is available to collect about five miles away. To be truthful, I've also had rollers not come back from that distance, but I rarely had them getting lost so easily on a day-to-day fly.

The bird which took off from the loft could have been attacked by a hawk and high-tailed it out of the area. When I lost five out of six one day, a hawk was flying nearby but showed no interest in them. It seems to me that if they get spooked, they won't just fly a few blocks, but for miles and miles. I'm trying to establish whether the particular strain I'm working with has tendencies which apply to most dewlaps, or whether they're specific to what I have. I know that other guys in the UK have very tame dewlaps, whereas as mine are a very nervy bunch indeed. This applies to the breeders, then everything I breed from them. No amount of fondling as youngsters works!

So, because I'm down to so few birds left, I'm thinking it might be better to start again with a different strain - but only if I'm not going to see the same thing again, simply because it's what Adana dewlaps do.

Something else I should mention. In the UK, a number of guys have taken to dewlaps this past few years. Having flown rollers there is a tendency for them to mob fly them as kits. I never understood this approach because everything I've read has been about two and three bird squadrons. However, as I've found mine to be slow breeders, the most I've ever had in the air has been six at a time. Usually it's four or five. In future, I think I'm going to be stricter and keep it to two or three, mainly because that way if on a particular day they rise up and they're gone, I'm only going to lose two or three and I'll have some in reserve.

The other thing is that because mine typically want to come down after about 8 minutes, I don't see the point in sticking ten, twenty in the air together, then the show's over. I'd prefer to launch them in small bunches and get to see the show more than once. This raises issues as to housing, so that twos and threes can be released and dropped in succession. At the moment I just shove everything out together - or I did when I had some to fly!

I've just read an article on doneks (might have been on this site) where the author stresses the need to keep them from flying too high, as their homing instinct is poor and they seem to be easily lost if droppers aren't put into play when doneks start rising. This is what made me wonder whether the same applies to Adana dewlaps, or whether I just have a strain with issues.

Thanks for listening.

Posts: 2
Joined: Tue Mar 15, 2011 7:55 am
Location: England
Breeds: Dewlaps and Birmingham rollers

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