Regardless, the interviews are inevitably disrupted by the constant ringing of his cell phone. Whenever I ask what he considers a stupid or repetitive question, I'm treated to a small repertoire of expressions for impatience and frustration: "I've already explained that to you"; "It's too complicated"; and my personal favorite, "Don't make me kill again. Orlando continues down the wall of pigeon cages. That bird over there, he's slouched over too much. He's probably got a weak back. He's not a winner. This guy over here, his legs are too far apart. Remember, they're essentially landing gear.
He reaches into a cage, picks up a bird, and spreads one of its wings. They're like the rings in a tree. You can tell if a bird missed a day of feeding or if it didn't get enough water. Look here. You see that little line across the top? I'll bet you he was a little sick that day. It's hard to tell if Orlando is a shrewd observer of all things pigeon or simply a wily bullshit artist.
Orlando opens the bird's beak and inspects for cankers and excess mucus, then holds the bird in one hand, inspecting its breastbone, or "keel," which he says should be about five fingers across.
Pigeons: The Fascinating Saga of the World's Most Revered and Reviled Bird [Book Review]
You don't want a big head or something. Some breeders study a pigeon's eyes for pupil size and coloring, which they claim is a predictor for a bird's homing instinct. Orlando says "eye sign" is a load of crap, akin to judging an Olympic athlete by his eye color. He should be as curious about me as I am about him. A bird in the next cage catches Orlando's eye. I wish I could tell you. Sometimes it's just the way they look at you. A teenager approaches Orlando for advice.
Burned out. Fucked up. Orlando quickly sums up the situation. They should also get some acidophilus.
They'll come out of it. Just don't give them antibiotics. They'll have no liver left. And they'll get immune anyway. Orlando's fascination with pigeons dates to early childhood, shortly after his family moved to Brooklyn from Puerto Rico. I just liked being around them.
Pigeons: The Fascinating Saga of the World's Most Revered and Reviled Bird by Andrew D. Blechman
I still do. They weren't homers; they were flights. We'd let them out the window and watch them fly in circles and come back. All the kids had them. The idea was to catch and keep another guy's bird and sell it back to him for a dollar. A few years later, Orlando and his brother built their first rooftop loft and spent much of their time protecting it from pigeon burglars, or "tappers.
We couldn't have a big coop for our flights because wood was expensive, and so the construction had to be reinforced using tar paper and tin. The coop was more like a crawl space, so no one could break in. Before he began racing homers, Orlando used to go out drinking most nights.
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After a stint in jail on Rikers Island, he sobered up and rediscovered his love of pigeons. Now he's too busy with his pigeons to get in trouble. His choice of friends has changed, too. But other racers? They know. It wasn't until Orlando was in his twenties that he could actually afford his first loft of racing homers.
We were just kids. To have homers, you need a car for training and someone to guide you through it. We didn't have the knowledge, roof space, or the money. Orlando's racing mentor was a Queens pet-shop owner by the name of Frank Klein, who learned the sport from his father.
ISBN 13: 9780702236419
But the brothers struggled with the sport's complexity. The next year Klein took the brothers under his wing, and OJ Loft won its first race. He taught us everything. We were inseparable, always together. Franky's the Grand Master. There is no better. Every time I visit him, I think I should bring a tape recorder. Klein, who's now retired and spends his time racing pigeons from his home on the Jersey shore, remembers the young Orlando as a "nice boy, a little on the wild side.
You know what I mean? He's insistent. He has to have them. He had the interest right away But he didn't know anything about them. I set him straight. I got him on the right foot. You know what I'm saying? A few years later, in , the brothers won the Main Event for the first time. But Orlando? He puts the work in. You understand?
It don't come from nothing. No matter how good the birds are, if you don't take care of them, nothing happens. Like racehorses. I do know what he means. Most of us are accustomed to seeing rock doves, one breed, almost everywhere we travel. The birds apparently inspire great love or great hatred and little in between. And many people think pigeons are disease carriers. However, Blechman dispels many fears. Blechman is great with the history of bird and its evolution. We do learn how many breeds there are according to the Encyclopedia of Pigeon Standards, breeds are now recognized , how far they can fly, the natural returning instinct of homing pigeons this is still a mystery, even to scientists , what they prefer to eat and how they have benefited mankind.
The author travels much of the world to meet pigeon fanciers including British royalty , attends a pigeon shoot still, unfortunately, legal in Pennsylvania, at least , and even eats a bit of the European-favored squab, young farm-bred pigeon who never will have the chance to compete or even stroll around St. Obviously, pigeons are addictive, especially flying them in races - not a hobby for the full-time employed or those afraid of the elements.
The birds, if they are to win races or shows, leave little time for other family affairs like regular mealtimes, bedtimes or vacations.
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- Andrew D. Blechman - author of LEISUREVILLE and PIGEONS.
Orlando Martinez is a perfect example. Like all the men in the book, he was gracious and generous with his time and knowledge with the author. The author tried to catch up with him unsuccessfully for many months.
Pigeons: The Fascinating Saga of the World's Most Revered and Reviled Bird
Tyson is obviously elusive to the press. In an article in USA Today in June , Tyson says that he has loved pigeons all his life; they are next to his six children in his heart. Homing pigeons are able to fly more than miles in a day at speeds up to 60 mph, most of them without stopping for food or water. In fact, they get extra credit if they have no mud on their feet when they arrive safely home.
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- Pigeons: The Fascinating Saga of the World's Most Revered and Reviled Bird | website.
- Pigeons: The Fascinating Saga of the World's Most Revered and Reviled Bird.
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Cleanliness is valued. Pigeons , organized by the seasons and their related pigeon activities, provides captivating reading. The author clearly falls into the camp of revering rather than reviling the birds. The only thing this reader wishes had been more highlighted are the social lives of the birds themselves — more about their mating, more about the rearing of their young, more about their relationships with the humans that feed them, pamper them and win money off their backs. Pigeons remain beautiful, athletic and often maligned birds.
Pigeons Andrew D.