Eye sign is a topic often discussed around the pigeon table. Although nothing more than theory, it has held the interest of many racing pigeon fanciers for years. Comparing a pigeon's eye to that of a human athlete, greyhound dog, or race horse is like comparing an airplane to a boat. If you think about it, no man, horse, or dog can fly. Neither is required to orientate quickly and return home like the homing pigeon.
I believe that the racing pigeon relies on several senses to find their way home. For example, the sun, stars, earths magnetic field, hearing, and smell, just to name a few. This would explain why some birds fly better on certain days than other birds. If it is cloudy and the bird cannot see the sun then it must adjust quickly to use another sense such as the earths magnetic field. The best birds perhaps are the ones who can adjust quickly and orientate faster than those less equipped.
If one believes that our birds do use the sun and earths magnetic field to home by, then eye sign certainly could play a big part in all of this. The eye of any living creature is the mirror to the sole. It absorbs light and tells the brain what it is seeing and can even give you a good idea of the health history of that living body. In pigeons it is important for them to have a good strong healthy eye and a good strong textured iris. The pupil must be quick to move and move freely to spot danger and retain a more constant speed. The iris should be textured and richly colored as to allow the pupil to do its job of letting the proper light into the eye rather than to much light bleeding in through a pale washed out iris.
We must always keep an open mind if we are to continue learning. To me, the eye is very important only if the bird has every thing else it physically needs . Balance , muscle, good wing, and buoyancy are all important quality's needed in a racing pigeon. Then and only then do I look at the eye. We do have tools to work with when selecting. If all winners bred winners we would not be breeding out of large numbers of breeders every year and buying new stock. It is not that simple. Eye sign is a great tool in my opinion, and certainly gives one a little more edge when selecting birds for the stock loft. Added to a good sound pedigree full of performance, eye sign can make the selection process even more successful.
For the sake of simplicity I have grouped the eyes below in two color classes. PEARL and YELLOW. There are several variations in each color class. These eyes are just a few of the eyes that I prefer to take a chance on in the stock loft. These are basic good breeding eyes based on the outer eye sign and iris pigmentation quality. Without getting too complicated I have shown a basic eye chart describing the sections of the eye that should be looked at first .
The Outer ring in my opinion should be the same color as the eye sign ring.
The iris should be rich in color regardless of the color itself and have plenty of good pigmentation. Take a piece of alum foil and crush it in your hand forming a ball of foil. Undo the foil and you have a wrinkled affect. That appearance is what many mean by pigmentation or mountains of color.
The Eye Sign Ring is best in breeders when it is thick and well pronounced. This ring is sometimes so thick the bird appears to have a large pupil. This ring can be of any color from yellow, green, grey , blue, white, or black. Color is of little importance as long as it is thick.
The pupil should be very active and not to large when in sunlight. The pupil should be largest only in darkness or shade. Some like the pupil to tilt or look forward as if the bird is watching you. To check pupil movement hold the bird with your pointing finger across the top of his head and your thumb beneath his eye. With your other hand wrapped around the birds tail area, quickly move your back thumb and see if the bird reacts by turning his pupil to look at your thumb movement.
Group A Yellow Eyes
Below are some excellent breeding eyes of the yellow group
Poor Breeding eye
Group B Pearl Eyes
Below are a few examples of top breeding pearl eyes
Degenerated Pearl Eye
Poor breeding eye
In Closing I will show you the eyes of two well known world class breeding cocks, "Hekkenklak", and "Mr.Aristona". These two cocks are here at the World of Wings Pigeon Center in Oklahoma City. Each has been sire , grandsire, and great grandsire to hundreds of winners and super breeders across the World. This article was kept rather simple in hopes that it would help people understand just the basics of the eye sign theory. Remember that success comes to those who keep an open mind. Hope you enjoyed it.
The eye of "Hekkenklak" The eye of "Mr. Aristona"