Champion pigeons

by Irene Pujadas

Russland (Ausgabe III/2015)


Painted pigeons. Photo: Ricardo Cases

In the Spanish provinces of Valencia and Murcia, people practice a colourful sport: racing "palomas deportivas", or "sports pigeons". The lively competition dates back to the 16th century. Dozens of pigeons soar up and chase a single female pigeon. The plumage of each animal is uniquely painted, which makes it easy to follow in the crowd. The winner whichever pigeon keeps the closest contact with the female or that succeeds in luring her to its dovecote. It is an amorous game of seduction and submission: the female pigeon stays with the pigeon she likes best.

This competition can be seen as a metaphor for the fair side of Spanish masculinity: the bold, courageous man of honour who conquers women with his flair. Competition and courtship are as much a part of the Spanish machos as they are of the sports pigeons. The fact that having a winning pigeon also boosts the masculinity of their owners probably goes without saying.

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