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Another Look at Eyes

We all agree that every pigeon should have 2 functioning eyes. However, there is little unanimous agreement on any other aspect regarding the eyes of our feathered friends, especially eye sign. Many very successful fanciers throughout the world pay no attention to it whatsoever and yet many others, equipped with a loupe, would like to tell us fence sitters that they are able to read the sporting qualities of any racing pigeon by just examining these little spheres. Cynics may liken these people to fortune tellers spinning their tale over a crystal ball.

It could be argued that the sheer number of people believing in this idea of eye sign must lend some credence and the non converted may just be ignorant about this aspect of our hobby. Yet, let us look at other beliefs of mankind such as the different religious beliefs. All of them certainly cannot be the absolute truth in spite of the number of people accepting their dogmas. It becomes obvious that something is not necessarily a fact just because many people believe it. Furthermore, eye-sign enthusiasts themselves do not all "read" pigeon eyes the same way, resulting in different interpretations of what they see "written" there.

It is considerations such as these which led me to devise a game - that's really all it is - in which the participant's challenge is to pick images of the eyes of the 22 most successful racing pigeons among a group of 44. The images were identified after the participants had their say so that each of them could verify how well he performed.

It could be argued that since all birds did not experience the same management, slotting them into different categories becomes problematic and this criticism is valid. However, success at playing this game was not measured by the expectation to be 100% accurate but rather by doing better than could be done by chance alone and there could be little doubt that, on average, the sporting quality of the group of 22 performance proven birds was better than that of the other 22 birds. There were some brave and courageous souls who took up the challenge and much credit goes to them. Of course there were also some self styled eye sign "specialists" who excused themselves by stating that images are just not good enough for the job at hand. It is indeed interesting to find their web sites filled with images of eyes, obviously for decorative purposes only.

Courage is needed for playing such a game indeed as not everyone "has the stomach" to be, perhaps, forced to revisit ones beliefs. But what were the results of this first challenge? Could some fanciers successfully pick those performance proven birds just by looking at images of their eyes?
Go to eyes/eyesign.php to have a look at the actual game.

Table 1:

Participant: Correct Choices: Incorrect Choices:
a 11 1
b 10 5
c 13 10
d 16 7
e 14 9
f 13 9
g 10 12
h 14 13
i 10 9
j 11 11
k 12 8
l 12 10
m 12 10
n 6 3
o 10 12
p 10 13
q 5 12
r 10 12
s 11 11
t 11 11
u 10 9
v 11 11
w 7 1

It would be tempting to aim for an "overall" result by adding up each column but to do so would be incorrect as each individual fancier works on his own and may or may not be "talented" in this aspect of our hobby. It should be noted that not all participants profess to be knowledgeable concerning eye sign and some are actually quite critical of its use. Much credit goes to them also for keeping an open mind. It will indeed be interesting to look at the results of planned future games with young birds from right across Canada managed in the loft of the Alberta Classic Derby.

This page was last up-dated on September 28, 2003

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