Widowhood pigeons often face problems that are difficult to overcome, because the cause is sometimes unknown. Some widowers do not stop racing and flying when they come home. Other widowers have a low weight.
Some pigeons suffer from both problems, but we have also had widowhood pigeons with only one of the two problems. So in some cases one problem relates to the other, in other cases it does not.
The problem of pigeons that keep on flying has nothing to do with sitting in the loft because of fatigue, shyness or not being able to adapt to different situations. The layout of the loft plays a big role in how the pigeons behave when entering their loft: if there is nothing to land on, they have to fly to the nest immediately. It seems that the widowhood pigeons that leads the bunch will enter the loft sooner than the other pigeons. Sometimes it also has something to do with the pigeon’s fitness. If a pigeon is trained too much it could become nervous or timid. That is the problem with forced training tosses: the longer they have to fly, the bigger the chance they keep on flying or even fly off for a few hours. If a pigeon is in a good shape it should not be surprising that it circles for a while before lands and traps back to the loft.
Pigeons can be selected on their form, but it does not happen very often that a pigeon is completely tamed by the fancier. But you should try to force them to make training tosses, although overtraining is to be avoided in any case. Training tosses should not take much longer than half an hour and should not be done on Mondays or on the day of basketing.
Pigeons that circle for a few times when they come home are often nervous. First of all, you should not get angry with them as it could make things worse: they might get afraid, which is never a good thing. Do not clap your hands or run around in the loft, pigeons are nervous enough on their own. It is better to just lock them out, especially at the beginning of the week.
The stress that comes from the training tosses might cause widowhood pigeons to keep circling and flying when they arrive home. It is usually a sign that they are in good shape, otherwise they would not do it. Van Steenberghe advises to train the pigeons ten minutes before they have to be back in the loft, to temper their enthusiasm a bit. Then they will trap back as soon as the loft window opens. Some will enter the loft, go back outside to circle for a while and then finally enter the loft again. If the trap is already closed by then, you will notice that they start to turn around in front of the loft. You should not pay too much attention to that. You can go inside for ten to fifteen minutes before you come out to close the loft. The pigeons that are still outside have to stay with the breeders. Then, you can move them from the breeding loft to the widowhood section. But that is not a problem as long as the pigeon wins prizes.
That is what it comes down to, you should not remove a difficult pigeon if it is capable of winning prizes. A calm and intelligent pigeon does not automatically become a prize winner.
Some fanciers think that a strong feed is what causes pigeons to keep circling when they come home. Van Steenberghe claims that this is not the result of feeding them with vegetables, but he once gave the advice to feed them with seeds rich in proteins when they circled too much. Sometimes a widowhood pigeon can be difficult if it does not sleep or is restless during the day: they start to lose weight and they arrive too late. But remember: widowhood pigeons never eat a lot. Heavy pigeons will not be very good flyers. Widowhood pigeons might seem to have a very low weight, especially when they get to see their hen before being basketed. If you are not familiar with this phenomenon, you might be surprised to see them how they behave. They might actually be capable of winning a first prize! But make sure that the lightweight pigeons do get some extra feed before they are being basketed. They tend to get calmer half an hour or an hour after being basketed, and they seem to have gained some weight by then.