By Leon Lam.

These are my thoughts on buoyancy and I would like to share them with you.

I am not here to discredit anyone’s opinions and hope that I have added value.

What makes a pigeon buoyant?

If you handle a pigeon one thing we want is buoyancy. 

But what is buoyancy ?

Bouyancy  is the ability to keep afloat or rise to the top ….. for example a liquid or gas in water. 

A pigeon’s respiratory system consists of 9 air sacs including its lungs and that is where its buoyancy comes from.

Please see the diagram below

A pigeon needs to rely on its air sacks as insulation so it doesn’t heat up and create air reserves during flight so that it can maintain oxygen levels and stay up in the air. 

The airsacks can act as a diaphragm since a pigeon doesn’t have one. 

Air sacks can be compared to a fully inflated balloon. If you let it go it will stay up in the air  longer than a half inflated balloon.

 If your pigeon has a damaged air sack it needs to be taken to a vet.

The large surface area of air allows for oxygen exchange and removal of carbon dioxide. 

Our birds are very sensitive to toxic air and will not survive in areas that are sprayed with chemicals. 

Planes are engineered in a similar way to that of a bird – which is amazing 

Buoyancy is affected when a pigeon is suffering from respiratory illnesses so in order to maintain buoyancy we want our pigeons to be in excellent health.

Fanciers must provide a suitable damp-free pigeon loft, good grains and mineral supplements with access to water and sunlight to keep the pigeons healthy ,happy and in top condition.

So when you handle a pigeon don’t confuse buoyancy with a light pigeon.

A pigeon that is underfed is just light and not at its maximum buoyancy. 

Some pigeons – no matter what you do –  are just not in the right condition and are not buoyant. 

Those pigeons are  “table” pigeons not racing pigeons and should be discarded.

The only way to understand buoyancy is to handle your stock  and racing pigeons. 

Compare and take notes and observe the bird and assess the balance.

Generally stock pigeons will feel heavier during breeding season and lighter during the off season. 

Climate has a lot to do with buoyancy. During the colder months pigeons will eat more as they are burning more energy to stay warm. So our pigeons will be heavier and  less buoyant.

During summer birds eat less and are generally more buoyant and lighter in the body. 

After the moult the bird is at its optimal buoyancy level.

There are many different racing strains around and some strains are more buoyant than others.

The reason could be muscle density, the size of a pigeon especially body to wing ratio and bone density as well. Some pigeons may have more dense bones and that can add weight to a bird

I am not so concerned about buoyancy during the off season but believe when our racing pigeons reaches it peak heath,  buoyancy is a factor to assess a fit pigeon. 

We don’t always get it right as some pigeons that are slightly heavier may have better mental conditioning and will power to fly home faster.

A super fit pigeon feels amazingly buoyant.

The more active a pigeon is – the more lighter and buoyant the bird 

You can get into the science of buoyancy by taking blood tests and understanding a pigeon’s anatomy and further studies .

It all depends on a Pigeon fancier’s level of interest.

But on a more practical level observation and comparing our own pigeons and handling our birds will provide sufficient understanding of buoyancy in pigeons.

Enjoy your time in isolation and handle as many pigeons as you can .