Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - June 27, 1973, Lethbridge, Alberta
14 -THI UTHBRIDGE HERALD Wednesday, June 27, 1973 Despite weather PIGEONS FIND WAY HOME By JOANNA MORGAN Herald Staff Writer A sharp eye can sight more than airplanes and flying saucers over Lethbridge some evenings this summer. On w eekends from now until Labor Day, the registered birds of the Lethbridge Rac- being banded bend vital to competition ing Pigeon Club are flying home. Though it has at least a 50- year history in the city, pi- geon-racing is a hobby that never loses its essential char- acter even when clubs come and go, members change, and new pigeons enter the fold. The intrigue in pigeons themselves remains, in the birds that find their way home, over long miles and through bad weather. The 16-memfoer Lethbridge Racing Pigeon Club is the re- sult of a 1972 merger of the Lethbridge Racing Pigeon Club with the Green Acres Racing Pigeon club. The group runs a weekly schedule of races. "Old birds" between the age of one and four years race from May until the end of July. A pigeon of five or six years of age may compete but generally is past his prime. "Young birds" hatched in April are raced in August at the conclusion of the racing year. Old birds race from points as distant as Grande Prairie and Fort St. John, but young birds fly from closer spots like Edmonton and Calgary. Much planning is involved in each race. Usually in mid-week, club members meet to pigeons up for races. In card- board boxes, holding five or six pigeons, the birds are sent by airplane to their depar- ture point. Larger dubs like those in Calgary and Edmonton have their own trucks to move their birds to race points. In Ontario some clubs use the railroads. Pigeon fanciers in distant cities assume responsibility for a club's birds By telephone on the day of a race, the volunteer in an- other city will talk to a local club official and djscuss conditions for the race. Favorable weather will bnng a go-ahead agreement but fcg o rrain as in the case o fthe Grande Prairie race .Time 16, means a day's de- lay. Not much lee-way is pos- sible in starting times since most pigeons can fly only in daylight. If bad weather per- sists, a race may be scrubbed entirely and the pigeons ship- ped home again. This means a pigeon may have been boxed up for several days. Should weather conditions be auspicious, the simple af- firmation over the phone is all that is needed to empower the volunteer to release the pigeons and note the time of departure. Though banded, for life by club members and register- ed in the Canadian Racing Pigeon Union, the birds are also banded for each race. A race number is assigned each bird at the pre-race basket- ing. As each bird flies in from the race to his owner's loft, his rubber race band is slip- ped off. This is put into a sealed clock, and the time of arrival is stamped beside the race number on a paper rib- bon. It is the individual rate of speed, not the first one home, that determines a winner. The distance has been calcu- lated in milts and yards from each race point to each Leth- bridge loft. After a race, club mem- bers meet to open and com- pare their sealed records of bird numbers and arrival times. The distance flown di- by flying time results in a calculation of each pi- geon's rate of speed. This velocity is figured out in yards per minute, Every trainer fears ''a smash.'' a race that ends in large pigeon loss because of hail, or an electric storm. The main annoyance is stray hunters who take pot shots at pigeons, even though it is against the law to shoot banded birds. How are pigeons trained? They begin their flying stints as young birds, or in spring training each year, in "tosses." short runs from points like Vulcan or Cham- pion. Boxing the racers Otto Plumell, left, and Dale Haughton prepare birds for Grande Prairie flight Each day they are exer- cized for a few hours around thair lofts. The initial expense of set- ting up racing pigeons is heavy if one buys good stock a pair is an average price but champion stock from American breeders may cost up to The upkeep of a bird for food yearly is only about Breeding your own birds makes stock costs go down. Racing the birds costs money too. Airfare to a race point like Fort St. John may go as high as per pigeon, oneway. Membership fees for the club are annually for sen- iors and for junior en- thusiasts. The same fees are in effect again for mandatory registration in the Canadian Racing Pigeon Union. Jake Van Dyk, a long-time club member said, "Once you have the birds you don't want to figure the costs out. be- cause then you'll want to get out of it.'" There are other drawbacks to pigeons. Club president David Allen c o mp 1 a i n s "They eat my petunias." But he concludes, "It's a fascin- ating hobby. You start watch- ing for the birds. When one comes in, in a day, from Fort St. John you feel pretty good." More of a hobby in Canada, in Europe pigeon racing is a wager sport. International clubs race pigeons in combi- nation events from country to country. In the 20's as many as 40.000 pjgeons would fly in one combined race from Bel- gium to England Pigeon fans are found in private homes and palaces. The Queen today keeps a loft of racing pigeons in her royal residence at Sandring- ham. Used as messengers during warfare, as far back as the age of Genghis Khan, racing pigeons became famous in World War U during the Al- lied campaign in Burma. The Dicken's medal, simi- lar in degree to the Victoria Cross for men, was awarded to several pigeons for signifi- cant bravery. Mr. Allen of the Lethbridge club counts among his stock pigeons whose blood lines in- clude Dicken's medal win- ners. The U.S. Army has re- searched pigeon use since the war, training some to fly at night, and others to fly both ways between two points. Trainers use mobile lofts for this effort. It is not known definitely why pigeons fly home One theory holds that ''anxiety" is the answer, or at least part of it. The pigeon is eager to return to the security of its mate and nest, and the fa- miliar loft where feeding times are regular sure than this is an answer to the question "How do pigeons get Guide by an acute sense of loca- tion, the birds will determine the easiest route home, avoid- ing natural or man made bar- riers or hindrances. Sometimes their sense of location seems based more on memory than reason. Experi- ments have been done with young birds where they were released at a paint one day and the next day from a loca- tion directly opposite the first' Onlookers at the first point observed the birds flying over the first day's release loca- tion, and then heading home, in an illogical detour. Progress may still old fireball siren London may have its Big Ben, Ottawa its Peace Tow- er chimes, and Vancouver its 9 o'clock gun, but Lethbridge has its siren. For as long as most Leth- bridge oldtimers can remem- ber, the klaxon atop the old No. 1 firehall has faithfully blared forth at a.m. and p.m. daily. And while newcomers es- pecially may not know it, the siren still serves a pur- pose, signalling a curfew for youngsters under 14. Even the sounding has more of a message than just tra- dition you can set your watch by it. But tradition or not, the si- ren which once sounded a general alarm bringing off- duty firemen running, may be silenced by progress in a year or so. The fire department is moving out of No. 1, the headquarters being transfer- red to No. 2 station on the Comparisons worthwhile Food chains set varying prices A survey of prices charged for similar items in two local supermarkets shows it's worthwhile to compare prices the bill at one store was less than at the other market. The comparison, made Monday on 54 grocery items, also indicated a drop in the total bill during the past month at one store, but an increase at the other. The tab at the lower-priced store, in fact, was thz lowest since The Herald began its month- ly monitor in March. Differences in price be- tween the two supermarkets were found on 31 items. Most notable was a bag of potatoes which cost for the 10-pound siza ona place and for a bag twice the size at tre other. Meat cuts were all differ- ently priced, varying from SI .29 to per pound for round steak and from 79 csnts to 98 cents per' pound for ham, for example. Tea, in 120-bag packages, was at one store and S1.69 at the other. The brands were not the same, but both prices represent the cheap- est the product could be pur- chased in that quantity. Sugar has increased ram cents for a 10-pound bag in the past month at one store and 10 cents, to at the other Tomatoes varied by 10 cents a pound, frozen crangs juice four cents for a 12-ounc juice four cents for a 12-ounce can. cheese seven cents a pound. In the past month at both supermarkets, Jubiles canned luncheon meat has gone up 10 cents a can to 59 csnts and eggs have risen four cents a dozen to 71 cents for the med- ium size. north side and a new down- town fireball slated for 6th Avenue and 5th Street S. "I guess no one has thought about it said deputy fire chief Ernie Holberton when asked what would become of the siren. Mr. Holberton said the fire department stopped using the siren to rouse off-duty firefighters years ago in fa- vor of simply phoning the men. "The big problem was that as soon as it went off every- one in the city would phone in to find out where the fire was. tying up all our lines so we couldn't phone out to the men." The present curfew bylaw on city books was passed in July 2, 1947 and states: "No child shall be in a public place within the City of Leth- bridge at night unless accom- panied by and under the con- trol of a guardian." A child, according to the bylaw is any'boy or girl ap- parently or actually under the age of 14, and public places includes city streets. According to Police Chief Ralph Michelson the bylaw is not strictly speaking en- forced but rather is used. It was kept on the books when a number of other "ob- solete" bylaws were done away with earlier this year, because the police depart- ment said it was still help- ful. "It's used by us and by par- ents to encourage the young- er children to be home at that hcur." said Chief Michel- son "When we see a youngster on the street after we te'l him to run on home, the curfew siren's rung." "I'm talking about the younger kids." he added. ''It's not much use with the older ones this day and age." 'Don't spray butterflies' Although there have been reports of thistle butterflies moving onto rape crops, farmers should not spray unless they can see damage is being done. Dr. Neil Holmes, head of the crop entomology section at the Lethbridge Research Station, says that the or- ange, black and white insect, commonly known as the painted lady butterfly, pre- fers to lay its eggs on Canada thistle plants, and will seek out other plants only when it can't find thistles. Some damage has been re- ported in different areas in the province, he says, mostly to rape crops where thistles have been sprayed or culti- vated In the larva stage, the but- terfly feeds on the thistle, de- stroying most of the plant above ground. In this way it is beneficial to the farmer and spraying should not be done unless it is needed to prevent damage to rape crops. Dr Holmes said Dr. Holmes says he is nol sure how much damage the insects will do to crops since this is the first year since 1958 a major outbreak of thistle butterflies has occurred in the area. A little damage to sun- flower crops resulted then, he noted. He said there is no need for alarm, but cautioned that farmers should watch the in- sects closely to see what damage, if any, is being caused. Some farmers, he said, were worried that the butterfly was the moth stage of the Bertha army worm. 500 attend cattle tour About 500 people participat- ed in the annual lour of the Southern Alberta Hereford Association recently in the Medicine Hat area. Included in the group were visitors from Saskatchewan. Northern Alberta, the United States and Holland. Glenda Radke of Medicine Hat was crowned Hereford Queen for 1973 by Wendy Miller, last year's queen. Few jobs for remaining out-of-work students By JIM MAYBIE Herald Staff Writer Indications are that more students have found summer jobs in Lethbridge than ever before but hundreds are still looking for work. Student Manpower has made placements to date, on par with the placements by this time last year, a record year in the city. Michael Clemis, co-ordma- tor of Student Manpower, said registrations this year are about 900 less than, last year, confirming other indi- cations that students are showing more initiative year in going after jobs by themselves. This year students registered compared with 562 last year. Last year 214 job va- cancies were filled. Tuesday there were only 26 vacancies remaining and three students were referred to employers for each of the vacancies. Before the Lethbridga high schools let out for the sum- mer Student Manpower had about 150 vacancies, said Mr. Clemis. University and col- lege students are generally more selective than high school students because they need to earn more money during the summer. But the high school stu- dents are very eager for work of any kind and will take just about anything to get experience. The 150 vacancies were snapped up and Student Man- power now is in a position where it has lots of bodies but not much work. Student Manpower is advertising that fact and hoping for more jobs soon. Mr. Clemis forecasts a slump in the number of placements the office will make this year compared with the total of last year. With students obtaining their own jobs and being re- employed by their employers of last year, the office just isn't going to have as many job openings. To date 617 orders have been received by Student Manpower from an esti- mated 550 different employ- ers Studenl wages range from to with the av- erage pay about said Mr. Clemis. Engineering as- sistants, employees of the city and parks, pay the high- est. Everybody likes the park jobs, he said, "and it would be nice to place stu- dents in parks jobs but we can't." The students, he said, are highly selective "and we had trouble filling orders until the high school students were out Many senior students want- fd jobs in their fields of study but just couldn't be placed in the area. "How many archeological digs are there going on around here now, for one Mr. Clemis said there was some discrimination by em- ployers in the areas of age, sex and long hair but no great problems. Some stu- dents lost out on possible jobs because of long hair which they refused to cut. Some females lost the op- portunity for a job because the employer wanted males, even though females were as competent. vSome employers d i d n't want students under the age of 18, he said, but that wasn't much of a problem because anybody under 18 wouldn't, have had the experience re- quired. On the whole, things have been going rather well. The big need now is more jobs, part-time or full-time1, to assist the hundreds of stu- dents still looking for work. Post-pounding Pounding in a post ithat will soon sport o thiny nevv stop sign at Scenic Drive and 16th Avenue S., city em- ployee Vic Sherwood becomes a temporary human pile- driver. Replacement of the stop sign was necessitated by either an accident or wear and tear, according to city traffic department.