Technology- Brings Fanciers Together and Educates the World
By: Whitney Sabrowsky, AU Youth Ambassador
Three years ago, in the mind of Chris Ferrante, pigeons were simply a common type of bird. Frankly, he never gave the pigeon a second thought or knew that there was a bird known as the racing homer. Chris, a New Yorker, was unaware that there was even a sport of racing pigeons.
In 2008, Chris Ferrante’s uncle, Dominick Guardino, who resides in upstate New York, returned to the pigeon sport after abandoning it as a young man. His uncle’s return to the sport was Chris’s first exposure to homing pigeons, but he still was not impressed. An accidental escape of one of Uncle Dominick’s pigeons was the turning point of Ferrante’s interest in birds.
Chris’s uncle had purchased a valuable pigeon from an Oklahoma flyer. While feeding his birds, the new pigeon slipped out of the loft and flew away. A couple days later, Uncle Dominick received a long-distance call from Oklahoma. His newly purchased bird had made the journey home. Chris says that he was “blown away” that a pigeon could fly from New York to Oklahoma, much less find its home.
Now Chris Ferrante’s eyes were finally opened. He was hooked on the fascinating hobby and sport of racing pigeons and was determined to learn as much about pigeons as possible in order to start his own loft. While scouring the Internet for racing pigeon information, Chris was dismayed to find that there were only a handful of knowledge sources available.
Wanting to put his computer and marketing skills to a productive use, Ferrante decided to launch a website that would encompass informative articles on every pigeon topic imaginable to help beginner flyers and offer the experienced new ideas. Chris was envisioning a site so complete that it would act as a novice’s mentor— www.pigeonracingpigeons.com was the result of Chris’s diligence in designing the ultimate “mentor”.
While Ferrante’s main reason for starting the site was to help him further his own knowledge and provide great information to the rest of the pigeon community, he had five specific goals: preservation, promotion, development, education, and community.
He remembers, “I wanted to help preserve the sport and hobby and I knew that by starting the site and building my own community of fanciers and friends, we could help do that together.”
Chris hopes that promoting the pigeon sport through his site will bring in more youth and he feels that the social networking aspect of the site is an attraction to the younger generation. To keep up to speed in a fast paced world, Chris wants to continue developing the site. “The more visitors and members we get into the site the more I can get feedback and develop and incorporate new features into the site such as real-time chat, web 2.0 integration and social technology just to name a few… By researching and incorporating new features that people are already using, I think it will be much easier to gain interest to a much wider audience.”Ferrante notes, “In the beginning, education was my sole goal. I myself wanted to learn as much as I could and by building a database of articles, videos, interviews etc. that fanciers could access at any time (even on their phones nowadays!) it would allow for better treatment for our birds.”
Lastly, Chris adds, “Building a community of both expert and novice fanciers from all over the world is probably my most favorite part about the site. I consider everyone on the site my friends and friends to one another. All members of the community can open discussions about the articles and leave their comments, this, I believe is what makes pigeonracingpigeons.com so dynamic and powerful. In the web 1.0 days, the internet was only a one way street where visitors could only consume content, now with web 2.0 they can actually reply to content and post their own thoughts and comments, which again adds a whole new dynamic.”
Currently, about 3,000 users from 30 different countries are delving into pigeonracingpigeons.com. Whether a fancier is from Africa, India, Europe, or America, everyone enjoys reading articles from respected flyers such as Ed Minvielle, Alex Bieche, Peter Mulder, Bob Prisco, and Dr. Colin Walker. There are over 200 articles archived on the site. Archived videos really make the saying “A picture is worth a thousand words” ring true. There is nothing like actually taking a video tour of a widowhood-style loft or watching a flyer demonstrating how to vaccinate pigeons.
The overall response to pigeonracingpigeons.com has been exceedingly positive. It has been called, “awesome”, “excellent” and “great”. A user of the site says, “I enjoy the site immensly, it is well written, and well informed, even I, who have been racing for 40 years, have learned a thing or two, so it goes to show you are never to old to learn.” According to the response of the users, Chris’s site has reached its goals of educating novices, but still reaching flyers with experience.
As far as the future of www.pigeonracingpigeons.com, Chris says, “I want to continue adding quality content, articles, interviews, videos and more to the site; also testing and adding new features that visitors not only will love, but also enjoy using.”
“All in all, I just hope the site will continue to grow, help preserve and promote the sport, and that the visitors continue to find it valuable.
Chris has made an incredible contribution to the racing pigeon sport. Amazingly, he does not even have his own loft and birds yet. Chris laments, “Because of my crazy schedule (working 50+ hours a week), I had to make the very difficult decision that it just isn’t the right time to have my own birds and wouldn’t be fair to them either since I couldn’t give them the care they deserve.” Needless to say, Chris will be far ahead of the game when he does start flying!
The Voice of a Youth
A young man by the name of Alan Gregg is also promoting the pigeon sport on the web and in his community. Alan, a 14 year-old from Ohio, became interested in pigeons when his elderly neighbor fell ill and needed some help maintaining his loft. With hands-on experience feeding birds and cleaning the loft, Alan Gregg’s passion for pigeons grew.
Assisting a pigeon flyer in his community was not enough for this excited fancier protégé; Alan wanted his own loft with his own pigeons! Soon after obtaining pigeons and a loft, Alan and his family found a club to call their own- – the Independent Homing Club. Being an enthusiastic novice, Alan has been the recipient of many quality pigeons and heartfelt advice from the members in the Independent Homing Club.
In 2009, Alan gave a 10-minute speech, complete with a PowerPoint, at his middle school to educate his classmates about pigeons. He would like to thank AU Promotion Director Deone Roberts, who Alan calls “a totally remarkable lady”, for her great handouts and pigeon paraphernalia. In the near future, Alan will also be giving a presentation for the local Cub Scout group.
Young Mr. Gregg did not stop his promotion with a school speech. Alan is making use of YouTube by posting homing pigeon videos. He has even started a Facebook page to keep people up to date with what is happening in the pigeon world.
Similar to Chris Ferrante’s experience, Alan Gregg realized that the web did not have a lot of information for a beginner flyer. With his dad’s help, Alan crafted www.NRPigeon.com. Taking note of everything expert flyers have shared with him, Alan put his knowledge into written articles in his quest to help novice flyers become successful. NRPigeon.com has an attractive photo gallery to illustrate loft design and has stunning pictures of the racing homer. Alan has also incorporated a public chat feature into his site that allows fanciers to communicate. Another great idea that he had was to write reviews on different pigeon products such as wormers and antibiotics.
Alan Gregg is an incredible ambassador for the AU and the sport. He works closely with the local animal wards in Ohio. Alan has gotten numerous calls from the animal wards regarding lost homing pigeons and he steps in to catch the birds and locate the owners.
The Independent Homing Club has a young flyer that they can be proud of and that member is Alan Gregg. The racing pigeon sport can applaud Alan for being an outstanding promoter!
Chris Ferrante and Alan Gregg, two different people with a common interest. Two people who are concerned with the future of the sport and have a common goal of promoting homing pigeons. Check out the products of their diligent work, www.pigeonracingpigeons.com and www.NRPigeon.com.