Training Homing Pigeons: Tips and Techniques for Success

Do you want to train homing pigeons? These birds are known for their ability to find their way back home from long distances, making them a popular choice for racing and messaging. But how do you train them to do this?

Training homing pigeons requires patience, dedication, and a thorough understanding of their instincts and behaviors. It’s not a task for the faint of heart, but it can be incredibly rewarding.

In this article, I’ll guide you through the process of training homing pigeons, from selecting your birds to teaching them to fly and navigate. Whether you’re a hobbyist or a serious pigeon racer, these tips will help you build a strong bond with your birds and achieve your training goals.

How To Train Homing Pigeons

What is a Homing Pigeon?

Pigeons and doves belong to the same family of birds, known as Columbidae. There are over 300 different species of these birds, and they are often called by different names, such as pigeon and dove, though there is no scientific reason to differentiate between them.

Humans have partially domesticated some species of pigeons, such as carrier pigeons, which were used in ancient and modern times to carry messages over long distances. Fancy pigeons are bred for ornamental purposes and have less flight capability compared to other pigeon species.

Homing pigeons, which are domesticated rock pigeons, have been selectively bred to find their way home over large distances. Racing pigeons are homing pigeons that are bred for speed and endurance, but there is controversy over this practice, as it may lead to increased stress and mortality rates for the birds.

Overall, pigeons are fascinating and diverse birds that have played important roles in human history.

How Do Homing Pigeons Work Out Where To Go?

The question of how birds navigate long distances has puzzled scientists for a long time, and it remains an open question. However, there are some theories being tested by ornithologists and researchers. According to a theory, birds rely on solar and magnetic cues to maintain their navigation. Recent developments reported on suggest that there may be more to this story.

A theory has been proposed by scientists from Switzerland and South Africa which suggests that certain bird species may navigate using an internal gyroscope and the earth’s magnetic field. This theory is still being tested, but it offers a new perspective on how birds are able to find their way over long distances.

What Do I Need To Train Homing Pigeons?

Training pigeons requires proper preparation and equipment. Here are the steps you need to take:

Pigeon Lofts and Dovecotes

Building a pigeon loft can be a fun and rewarding experience for pigeon enthusiasts. When constructing your loft, it’s important to consider the size and space needed for your pigeons. For each pair of pigeons housed in a loft, approximately 10 cubic feet of space is needed.

If you plan on keeping multiple pairs, make sure to plan for the appropriate amount of space. Location is also an important factor to consider when building your loft. Make sure it’s in an area that is free from obstructions like wires, trees, and lampposts as these can negatively impact your ability to train your birds.

Additionally, the loft should be designed to keep the birds safe from predators. If you plan on breeding your pigeons, separate quarters will be required for the parent and offspring. Your loft should also contain a trap door for releasing your pigeons.

Whether you choose to build your own loft or purchase one, it’s important to carefully consider the needs of your pigeons and provide them with a safe and comfortable environment.

Training Homing Pigeons

Pigeon racing is a popular form of entertainment and a way to earn money. However, it requires proper training of the pigeons to ensure they can compete and return home safely.

Training for Pigeon Racing:

To compete in pigeon racing, you need to train your pigeons well. Start by training them to fly short distances and gradually increase the distance as they get better. It’s essential to ensure they are in good health and have a balanced diet to improve their performance.

Training for Homing:

Training your pigeons to come home daily and safely is crucial. Start by letting them out for short periods and gradually increase the time as they get more comfortable. It’s important to keep track of their flight patterns and ensure they are not getting lost or injured.

Minimum Age for Training Homing Pigeons

Training homing pigeons requires a dedicated schedule and consistent effort. In order to begin training homing pigeons, it is recommended that they are at least 6 weeks old. At this age, you can introduce them to the trapdoor in the loft which allows them to enter and exit as needed.

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Creating a training schedule can help keep the process consistent and ensure progress is made. The schedule should include training at least once a day. It’s important to note that training homing pigeons takes time and dedication. By following a schedule and remaining consistent, you can help your pigeons become skilled and reliable flyers.

Ensure Adequate Facilities

Providing adequate facilities for your pigeons is essential for their well-being and ensuring they return to their loft.

Comfortable Housing and Good Food:

To encourage your pigeons to return home, it’s important to provide them with comfortable housing and good food. A clean and safe loft with proper ventilation and nesting boxes can make your pigeons feel secure and comfortable. Providing high-quality food and a balanced diet can also keep your pigeons healthy and happy.

Treat Them Like Royalty:

Treating your pigeons well is essential for their happiness and well-being. Spending time with them, providing enrichment activities, and giving them attention can help build a strong bond between you and your pigeons. This can also make them more likely to return to their loft.

Incentivize Return to the Loft:

To ensure your pigeons return to their loft, it’s important to provide them with incentives. This can include providing food and water in their loft, placing their favorite toys or perches inside, and creating a comfortable and safe environment. By providing these incentives, your pigeons will be more likely to return home and feel happy and secure.

Begin Training

Training homing pigeons to come back home after being released requires patience and consistency. Wait until your pigeons are at least 6-8 weeks old before starting training. Begin by taking them about a mile away from home and releasing them. Repeat this several times a week, ideally daily, to reinforce the homing instinct.

Use a basket or cage to transport the birds to the release location. Over time, gradually increase the distance from home to challenge the pigeons and improve their homing ability. Remember to always provide food and water for your pigeons, and monitor their health and behavior during training. With dedication and practice, your homing pigeons will become reliable flyers and return home safely after each release.

Expand Distance Each Week

Training a homing pigeon requires patience and dedication. Here are some tips to help you gradually expand the releasing distance:

– Expand the distance by less or more than 5 miles per week, keeping the distance around 5 miles if possible.

– Release the birds in different directions each time to improve their navigation skills.

– Don’t expand the distance too fast or too far. In the event that your birds encounter difficulties, it is advised to discontinue increasing the distance and resume training them at the previous successful distance.

Remember that training a homing pigeon takes time and effort, so be patient and consistent in your training.

Bird Loss

Bird loss is a common occurrence in bird training, but it’s important to take steps to minimize it. To address bird loss, it is recommended to temporarily decrease the frequency and distance of training. This will give your birds time to rest and recover.

It is a possibility that certain pigeons may become fatigued on their journey back and require a period of rest. However, it’s crucial to monitor your birds closely and take action if necessary.

In most cases, lost birds will eventually find their way back home, but it may take them a day or even a few days to return if they have stopped for a break. Be patient and keep an eye out for their return.

Second Home

Training homing pigeons to fly between two lofts is a great idea. Establishing a secondary location for your birds can enable them to learn to fly back and forth between the two spots, as well as to return to your primary loft.

To accomplish this, it’s important to provide high-quality food at both lofts. This will give your birds an incentive to return to each location, especially if they are hungry and looking for food.

By following these steps, you can train your homing pigeons to fly between two lofts and ensure their health and well-being. Good luck with your training!

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How to Train Homing Pigeons

Training a pigeon for racing can be a unique experience for each owner. While there are various methods and theories, it’s important to find what works best for you and your pigeon. Remember, each pigeon has a unique personality and will respond differently to training. Here are some general tips for successful training:

Set the Base Location

Homing pigeons are trained to carry messages between two locations by using a base location, also known as the home loft. The loft is a central location for the pigeons, where they spend the majority of their time eating and drinking.

In order to ensure that the pigeons return to this location, the home loft must have a trap door that allows the pigeons to enter but restricts their ability to exit at will.

The home loft is the default location that the pigeons will always use as a return point, even if they are released more than 100 miles away. This unique ability of homing pigeons to navigate and return to their base location has made them invaluable messengers throughout history.

Start Early

Training pigeons at a young age is preferred by most breeders. The ideal age to start training is between 25-30 days. It’s important to keep the young pigeons in their own loft with birds of similar ages to prevent them from being overwhelmed by adult pigeons.

During this stage, it is essential to ensure that the pigeon flies through the loft daily, which is commonly referred to as baling.

It’s also recommended to talk to and whistle at the pigeon when feeding them to help them get familiar with their owner’s voice and call. This way, they will become accustomed to their owner and their training routine.

Practice at Intervals

Training your pigeons to fly long distances requires careful acclimation and gradual increases in range. Start by practicing at variable distances, using a cage to carry the pigeons a mile away from home. Release them and let them fly back home. Repeat this process several times a week to build their confidence and endurance.

Increase the range to 5 miles and repeat the process. Attempt a 10-mile flight the following week. Keep increasing the range until you reach a distance of over 50 miles.

Systematically expanding the distance will assess individual birds’ abilities while enhancing the group’s stamina and self-assurance. Training your pigeons to fly long distances takes time and patience, but with consistent practice, it can be done with ease.

Food and Water Incentives

Homing pigeons are trained to navigate to specific locations through the use of food and water rewards. To create a two-way flight route, remove the food from the home base and take the pigeon to the second location to provide feed. The pigeon will eventually learn to migrate between the two locations independently.

To deliver a message, remove the feed from the home base and release the hungry pigeon. It will fly to the second location to feed and deliver your message. This process requires patience and consistency in training the pigeon. With proper training, homing pigeons can be reliable messengers for short to medium distances.

Trust the Pigeon

A young pigeon can start exploring short distances after settling in its new loft for a few days. Its wings will have strengthened, allowing it to walk a few meters on its own. This is a crucial time for the pigeon, and it’s important to trust that it will return home.

One tip is to let the pigeon out before feeding it, so it will have an appetite and return to its feeder on the first call. Trusting your pet and providing a safe environment will help it thrive and enjoy its new home.

Educate Your Sense of Direction

Training young pigeons to have a good sense of orientation is essential for their development. While these birds are naturally well-oriented, it’s still necessary to help them along the way.

To start, it’s important to accustom them to cages or training baskets. These small spaces will help them learn to return to their loft on their own. However, it’s crucial to take things slowly and introduce them gradually to avoid stressing out the young pigeons.

Once they’re comfortable in the training baskets, it’s time to start the training process. This involves moving them to a nearby location and releasing them to fly back home. However, it’s important to choose sunny days without rain, strong winds, or fog to make the test easier for the young pigeons.

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By working on their sense of orientation, you’ll be helping your young pigeon develop into a healthy and happy adult.


How is a homing pigeon trained?

The training of homing pigeons involves the use of food and water rewards in particular areas. Messages can be relayed by setting up a home base location or establishing a route between two predetermined locations.

Messages can be transmitted by either establishing a singular route returning home base location or by constructing a path between two predetermined locations. To establish a two-way flight route, remove the food from the base.

How long does it take for training homing pigeons?

The time required to train homing pigeons varies depending on several factors but typically takes around 8 weeks.

How do you train a homing pigeon for beginners?

To train a homing pigeon, start in the loft. Keep the birds inside for 4 weeks after buying them. Then, after 4 years, they can fly freely. This helps establish the loft as their home. Open the door every day after 4 weeks and let the birds fly.

How did they train homing pigeons?

Many individuals train homing pigeons by strategically placing food and their home at separate locations, requiring manual transportation before the next flight.

How long does it take a pigeon to get used to a new home?

On average, it takes approximately four weeks for a pigeon to acclimate to a new environment.

Do homing pigeons know where to go?

Homing pigeons are known for their remarkable ability to find their way back home.

Is it hard to train a pigeon?

Training homing pigeons is a feasible task, but it requires a significant investment in time, effort, and proper care.

What is the difference between a carrier pigeon and a homing pigeon?

Passenger Pigeons are a species of wild North American Pigeons, while Carrier Pigeons are domesticated and were utilized for message carrying during WWII, also referred to as homing pigeons.

Do homing pigeons stop for a rest?

Homing pigeons require breaks to rest and replenish their energy before continuing their journey back home.

Do pigeons recognize their owners?

Research has shown that some animals, such as certain primates, have the ability to recognize individual human faces and are not affected by changes in clothing.

What do you do if a homing pigeon lands in your garden?

If a pigeon lands in your garden, you have the option to provide it with food and water. Once it has received sustenance, it will fly back to its place of origin.

How far can a homing pigeon fly without stopping?

Homing pigeons have the ability to fly long distances without the need for food or rest.

What do you feed a homing pigeon?

Homing pigeons share similarities with other pigeons and have a dietary preference for items such as rice, maize, split peas, barley, wheat, and various seeds.

Can any pigeon be a homing pigeon?

The homing pigeon, a domesticated breed derived from the wild rock dove, has been selectively bred for its remarkable ability to navigate over great distances and find its way home. Not all pigeons possess this trait and can be trained as carriers.

How did they train carrier pigeons?

Pigeons have been trained to transport themselves by flying back and forth up to twice a day, covering round-trip flights up to 160km. This is achieved by placing their food at one location and their home at another location.

Where do homing pigeons sleep at night?

It is common for pigeons to not sleep in their nests and seek out alternative locations for rest and overnight stays. They search for shelters that provide warmth and protection from predators, often settling on roofs of buildings and homes.

At what age do you start training homing pigeons?

It is recommended to begin training homing pigeons at the age of 6 weeks, during which time they can also learn to navigate the trapdoor in the loft.

How intelligent is a pigeon?

Pigeons have been observed to pass the mirror test, recognize letters of the human alphabet, differentiate between photographs, and distinguish different humans within a photograph, indicating a level of complexity and intelligence.


Training homing pigeons can be a rewarding and fulfilling experience for both you and your feathered friends. With patience, consistency, and a little bit of know-how, you can teach your pigeons to navigate the skies and return home safely.

So why not give it a try? Who knows – you may just discover a lifelong hobby that brings you joy and wonder. Happy flying!

Kathy Gonzales

I'm an author of I have kept pigeons as pets for over 20 years and have written several articles. Here in this blog, I cover topics such as how to care for pigeons, what to feed them, and how to keep them healthy.