LES J. PARKINSON'S
A look back at eye sign.
From time to time subjects arise in parts of the sport where fashion comes and goes, as most will know I am a fan of eye sign. Yes, we are aware that some say all sorts of things about it, but eye sign is an interesting subject and one that fanciers are always looking at even though they may say they are not. Nothing is the be all, and end all of the pigeon racing, each subject, no matter what, is a point of discussion and boy can there be some discussions. Going back to a conversation I had with Rob Jones about a pigeon that was for sale on the auction site. Rob was saying he thought some pigeons did not sell because they did not have good eye sign, the pigeon he was referring to at the time did have good eye sign, the problem is most do not study the subject and are therefore not aware of the values in the pigeon’s eye.
I have mentioned before that Dr Atherton who was my Doctor many years ago was looking into my eyes, I asked what he was looking for. He said, “Would it help if I told you” I then told him about studying the eyes of racing pigeons. We had quite a conversation about the benefits of studying the eye, he did say that there are a lot of health issues that can be seen through studying the human eye. Mr May was a keen eye enthusiast and studied the human eye and at one time he had some photos of the human eye of people who had problems. So, you see eye sign is not just a subject for the pigeon fraternity it is used to see the way forward in humans. The subject of eye sign is seen as a joke by many, but they have probably not studied the benefits of the eye in the first pale and therefore are missing the point. You can have a real good gene pool in the stock loft but it does not say that they are all going to breed winners but I dare bet that the best breeders do have a quality in the eye that can be seen by the keen fancier who knows their own family of pigeons and where their best pigeons are coming from. Whatever subject is under discussion it is always worth taking part in because that is where we all learn from in the first place. All aspects of pigeons are worthy of a discussion whether it is the eye, body, feathering, wing or any other subject that is related to the pigeons. Whatever we talk about creates an interest and that is what keeps most fanciers going, Elizabeth will tell you I spend a lot of time on the phone, just talking about pigeons. This is where we learn from, out of every conversation we have only a small percentage of that conversation will stick in your mind. After a meeting at work I once said to my manager, “Most of that went over my head” and I was surprised at his answer, “It did mine, that’s why my secretary takes notes” In my last notes Writing about many years ago I mentioned how I used to book everything down about the races I competed in, and I still have those books, somewhere in the attic. When I am up there looking for something, I will look at these and think, do I still need them after all they are going back to 1969. Some people do remember more because there are always some who have better memories than others, I think a lot depends on your interest levels in the subject under discussion.
This is a quote from Silvere Toye when I asked him about eye sign in racing pigeons. “The pigeon’s eye is a reflection of the health also the vitality of the pigeon the older they get” Quite right but there is still a lot more to the subject. There are some fascinating photos of pigeon’s eye’s and they look incredible, but they are not worth a light, they are very misleading because they are manufactured. Years ago, some fanciers started to breed pigeons for eye sign thinking that was the easy way to success which is not the case. By breeding in this way, you will have what look like outstanding eye sign in racing pigeons, but they have no depth to them, they only show up on the surface. If you take your time to look at the eye’s it is quite easy to distinguish between those that are bred just for eye sign shows and those pigeons with genuine eye sign. Most pigeons bred for the eye sign shows are so flat you don’t need to have a glass to study what you are looking at, a quick glance and they stand out. A top showman with eye sign told me, “They are just bred for the shows they never breed anything in the race team. I do have some pigeons with good eye sign in the stock loft that breed winners, but their eyes are not as good as the ones I breed for the shows” This is where the confusion in eye sign sets into fancier’s mind’s and why they don’t take an interest in the subject. I have included a few photos of eyes that have all bred winners from 300mls plus. What I have noticed over the years is pigeons that breed sprinters are not very often as deep as breeders of distance pigeons. I think a major problem with fanciers when looking at eye sign in racing pigeons is, they take it all as read and get confused, no matter what you take an interest in it is not that simple.
There is always going to be the exception to the rule where a pigeon will come and win and the owner can see nothing in the eye, but that is because they may only by looking for strong colours instead of the overall makeup of the eye. As with anything you must take it as you see it and work from there and then build on it, if you do you will get there in the end, may take time but you will get there. What was unusual about the eyes is 5059093 is a direct son of a super sprinter but he never bred a sprint winner, but he did breed pigeons to win top prizes from across the channel to National level. In fact, 4 came from the sire and not one bred a land winner even though that was where the sire won, in the sprint races. The pigeon I saw as being best all-round breeder was 5187934, I only know of two off this pigeon and both looked the part, one prized on land the other across the channel into the North West, this could have been a case of the first pair from yearlings. I would have liked to have seen more of what this one could breed but it never happened, this is a g-d of “Figo” and we all know how many winners came from that line. The best eye is 5059120 a gem, she bred some real good pigeons and is a direct daughter of a pigeon called “Full Try”. When we were on a visit to Ferdi Vandersanden I saw “Full Try” in the stock loft and there was little interest in him. The reason was he was a National Ace Pigeon Long Distance and there was nothing to be seen anywhere else in the breeding. I bought several over and they were all quality and bred winners for fanciers around the UK. The problem was no one knew much about this pigeon and his line was never flavour of the month. From the first time I saw him I told Ferdy that he was the pigeon and he was, a real gem who later went to the Far East for a large fee and his offspring were later in big demand. A few years later I received an email from Frank Howard with an attachment of how well the offspring were doing in Belgium, they were the tops but never got the credit they deserved.
5059093 Off "Winston" 1st National Ace sprint
5059120 Daughter of "Full Try"
5059358 Off "Nationaal II" off dgt "Red Barcelona"
5059389 off "Winston" x dgt "Red Barcelona"
5067181 Half-sister to 1st National Brive
5187934 g-c "Figo"