Scientists still haven't discovered exactly how homing pigeons are able to figure out where their homes are. Mankind has been exploiting this ability for thousands of years, including having pigeon races. But pigeons don't fly around a race track. Here is how a typical race is held.
Choose your racing pigeon or pigeons. They have to be over 6 months old.2
Register all of your potential racers with the local pigeon racing club that is sponsoring the particular race you want to your birds to compete in. You can find local clubs through the American Pigeon Racing Union (see Resources below).3
Attach the racing antenna to where the pigeon has been trained to perch on his loft. This antenna is vital: it's the finish line that stops the timer in your pigeon's leg band (see Step 5). Be sure you have a pigeon timer clock.4
Place the homing pigeons in individual carrying cases and drive them to the racing club meeting point. There, you fill out paperwork, pay the entrance fee and hand your birds over to the race officials. The average race is 400 miles.5
Attach the rubber-banded racing timer to the pigeon's right leg. The timer is called an Eletronic Timing System, and contains a little chip to record how long it takes your pigeon to get home. The winner is the pigeon who gets home in the shortest amount of time. Each band has a serial number, which is the pigeon's "name" throughout the competition.6
Go home. Meanwhile, all of the pigeons will be taken in a big truck to the starting point of the race and released.7
Remove the timing band off of the pigeon's leg after she gets home and crosses the antenna. Put the band into the pigeon timing clock.8
Take the clock and results back your pigeon racing club, where the results will be determined and you'll find out if you have a winner.