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14 wacky animal sports

April 1, 2011, 11:30 a.m.
man releasing his pigeons in pigeon race

Photo: adam piggott/Flickr

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Pigeon racing

In this sport, trained racing pigeons are released from a distance of about 100 to 1,000 kilometers, measuring the time it takes for the birds to return home. Often, only a few seconds separate the winners from the losers — and the prize money. Pigeon fanciers train their athletes to brave predators, storms and other threats, and the birds’ times are clocked by computer chips attached to ankle rings. There are several theories on how these birds home in on their destinations — they appear to navigate by the sun and may also have a natural compass that allows them to use magnetic north to find their home.