Mirko Purgar breeds sport pigeons

Mirko Purgar has been working for nearly 18 years at Belje’s hog breeding farms. He works at farm Brod Pustara 1, and he has been breeding pigeons since 2000. Here is a short interview with him.

How did you start breeding pigeons?

I liked pigeons since I was little and I’ve started breeding and keeping pigeons intensively since the year 2000. My father kept pigeons and he transferred this love to me. I have helped him with the pigeons and started to love them. I started with 10 couples and have increased this number every year. I have sorted the ones that were able to fly longer and left them for breeding. I currently have around 120 pigeons, out of which 30 pairs in the parent flock, or in other words 30 pairs for breeding. I am a member of Croatian sport association of highflyer pigeon breeders “Cibalia” from VInkovci.

What sort of pigeons do you breed?

My dad used to brreddecorative pigeons, and I have decided for capped highflyer because they are sport pigeons. They come in various and single colors as well as in combinations of colors and stripes. Their main characteristic is a high, long, circular group flight. They fly in a flock of at least 5 birds at a height from 800 to 1500m.

How many eggs do pigeons lay?

Pigeons lay two eggs four to five times a year and the incubation period is 18 days. Unlike all other birds, they produce their own milk. Pigeon milk has high nutritive values and parents feed their youngling for the first couple of days. Pigeons live in pairs, most of them spend their lifetime with the same partner, and during the incubation period both female and male sit on eggs.

Do you participate in competitions with your pigeons?

Of course. The competition takes place at home. Two judges arrive who monitor the pigeons with binoculars during their entire flight. In a competition the judges keep score if the pigeons reached the required altitude and the length of their flight. It is possible for pigeons to stay airborne for as long as 14 hours, and a Hungarian high-flyer pigeon was recorded from an airplane at an altitude of 6000m.

My best result in a competition is 3rd place in senior category in 2012 with a time of 4h and 55 min. The competition results are unpredictable because, besides the pigeon quality and preparation, a lot depends on the weather conditions. The point of competing for every pigeon breeder is a good result, but more important than that is the socializing. Two judges from the association as well as friends come to the competition, so we always have a good time, have a good traditional meal and a chance to exchange experiences.

How do you prepare them for competitions?

Nutrition. Every three days I let them out and I re-sort the ones who reach the highest altitude then give them special sports feed. I teach them to fly when they are approximately 2 months old, when they start eating and drinking water. Some of them get lost, especially in bad weather. Some return after 2-3 days, but that happens very rare. Also, people find my pigeons and return them to me because they all have rings with the phone number of the club.

How do they orient themselves?

They recognize the house and the yard.

Do you spend a lot of time with pigeons?

Keeping this number of birds takes up a lot of time every day, but when you love something, it’s not difficult. Pigeons are mainly my concern, but if I am not at home my children step in even though they are more interested in computers than in pigeons. For me, entering my pigeon coop is a haven from everyday concerns and stress, it is pure relaxation. I feed them several times every day, check their rings and make sure they are healthy. I feed the parent flock three times a day.