EMERALD local Grahame Harling and his racing pigeons achieved an incredible feat this month.
Pigeon racing is usually conducted with around 200 or 300 pigeons. They are a herd animal which means they fly together protecting themselves from predators such as birds of prey.
The pigeons that are raced in such large groups come from members of pigeon racing clubs. The clubs release the birds together so the flock is as large as possible ensuring that a number arrive home.
Without a local Emerald pigeon racing club Mr Harling set out on a race by himself.
"I took seven pigeons to Dubbo in New South Wales,” he said.
"It's a 1000 kilometre flight back to Emerald which is a long journey, but not unheard of for pigeons.”
Out of the seven pigeons that Mr Harling raced, three made it home. A remarkable achievement when the birds are usually raced in groups of over one hundred.
"When you race pigeons in larger groups they are able to protect themselves. Getting three home out of seven was outstanding.”
Mr Harling said he released the birds at 6.45am on Sunday and the first arrived home at 10am on Monday. Pigeons do not fly at night which means the flight time averaged 15 hours.
Although pigeons have natural homing instincts, it is only up to a certain distance Mr Harling said.
"Any pigeon would be able to find it's way home if you took it five kilometres away. That's their natural ability. However, to find their way home over such a large distance takes training.
The Rockhampton Pigeon Racing Club have invited Mr Harling to race pigeons with them from Griffith in New South Wales next year.
Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.