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Local pigeon has every reason to preen

Published on

Cathy Dobson

He’s a Canadian champion fancy bird admired by breeders around the world.

And he seems to know it.

Gary Parsons says his yellow medium faced crested helmet pigeon stands on his tip toes and walks around with an unmistakable “look at me” air.

“He’s got a lot of style,” says Parsons who has been breeding pigeons in his backyard coop for 50 years.

“Yellow helmets are very proud birds and I like how he preens. I also like his striking colours.”

Yellow helmet #19-567 is pure white except for a bit of yellow on his head and tail. Parsons is an accountant and prefers to give his birds numbers rather than names.

He keeps about 20 pairs of pigeons and enters them in fancy pigeon shows every season.

Number 19-567 has been unbeaten in his breed since he was born four years ago.

On Jan. 14 he soared even higher.

Number 19-567 was chosen as best of the medium faced crested helmets at the Prairie Invitational Pigeon Show in Portage La Prairie, then went on to be named champion of the entire show, beating out 600 other pigeons and every other breed.

Canada’s Grand Champion Yellow Crested Helmet was bred in Sarnia by Gary Parsons. (Submitted photo)

“I was quite surprised when that happened,” said Parsons. “He’s won numerous times in his own category but not as best pigeon in the whole show.

“I’ve been showing pigeons since the 1960s. This is really just a hobby for me,” he said.  Now Parsons’ #19-567 has won at so many shows, he can be considered the best fancy helmet in Canada and the U.S.

An Irish judge in Portage La Prairie was so impressed, he wants to buy some of Parson’s birds. In fact, Parsons has sold birds over the years to other breeders as far away as Australia and South Africa.

Showing fancy pigeons is not as popular a hobby as it once was but dozens of breeders exist in Sarnia-Lambton and hundreds of birds are entered into the annual Sarnia Poultry, Pigeon and Pet Stock Association Show held at DeGroots.

Breeding fancy pigeons is becoming a bit of a lost art, said Parsons. 

“Like so many things, it’s hard to get kids involved so it’s slowly disappearing.”

Still, numerous fancy bird shows are still held across North America every year, attended by thousands.

Parsons grew up on a farm in Nova Scotia where his family bred pigeons. When they moved to Sarnia, Parsons was still a teenager and decided to build coops in the city with his brother.

His family was not interested in raising homing pigeons or racing birds. They preferred to breed fancy pigeons that have no homing instincts and are judged solely on their looks.

About 20 years ago, a helmet owned by Parsons won at a show in Woodstock. Number 19-567 is a descendent of that pigeon.

Parsons keeps meticulous records of every baby born in his coop and said his latest win confirms that he has created a bloodline of helmet pigeons that are now the best in Canada, possibly North America.

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