Pigeon breeding is catching up in Hyderabad; fantasy breeds success

Hyderabad: Pigeon breeding is quickly catching up with some of the city’s youth. The centuries-old “Nawabi” hobby remains a hit among pigeon fanciers even today. However, the sport today has taken a different turn, becoming more of a commercial success.

A favorite pastime in the past, today pigeon breeding is done for commercial purposes and deals are made through Whatsapp groups. Hyderabad pigeon breeders say the hobby has risen sharply for around half a decade, with youngsters looking to make a quick buck rather than pursuing it as a hobby.

Fancy breed pigeons fetch a good price, and the focus is on breeding and rearing fantail species in Hyderabad, breeders say. Some of the pigeons known for their appearance are Fantail, Jacobin, Frill Back Pigeon and Indian Gola.

“Social media platforms have opened up a big market to sell or buy the pigeons. Online advertising portals, Facebook and Whatsapp pages are an added advantage,” said Mohd Taher, a pigeon breeder from Chanchalguda in Hyderabad.

Regular updates of pigeon sale in Hyderabad are posted on Meta (Facebook) pages or several Whatsapp groups formed by pigeon breeders. “Pigeon breeders from Maharashtra, Karnataka and Telangana are members of the groups. Bids are set and payment made when the bird is caught,” said Yousuf Khan, a pigeon breeder from Misrigunj.

A pair of pigeons costs between Rs 600 and Rs 10,000 depending on demand and breed. The more amateur the bird and species, the higher their price. According to locals, there are about 300 pigeon breeders in the old city of Hyderabad. However, there are others who also like to keep the bird in their home for show.

Pigeon race

Fancy pigeons are featured in homes for recreation while the Homer Pigeon, popularly called Girebaz, is used for racing. These pigeons are also called “messenger pigeons”, as they were even used to send emergency communications until 2002. “The pigeon races are held periodically between November and February when the sky is clear. The races start in the early hours of the day and end in the evening,” said Abdul Sohail, a breeder of Bibi ka Chasma in Hyderabad.

Participants bring their pigeons after having fed them well and release them on the day of the race. “Each pigeon’s flying hours are calculated, whoever flies the longest is the winner,” Sohail added. When it comes to pigeon racing in Hyderabad, advancements in technology have also made monitoring quite easy.

“When releasing the pigeon, a photograph of where the bird is released is taken and the latitude and longitude are marked. The distance is calculated and when the bird returns to base and a photo is taken again,” a member of a running group explained to Siasat.com. Homers are a breed of pigeon suitable for racing when they are between eight months and five years old.

Another popular event is the Tugudi (flock) race in which two or more participants release their flock of pigeons simultaneously into the sky. “It’s more like checking the allegiance of the other herd. The flock that brings in other participating pigeons is deemed the winner,” says Shahbaz, a pigeon breeder from Chandrayangutta in Hyderabad.

Pigeon breeding and racing is generally done in Misrigunj, Bandlaguda, Chanchalguda, Golconda, Falaknuma, Shahalibanda, Hassan Nagar Tallabkatta and Shaheennagar regions of Hyderabad.