Lancaster farming. (Lancaster, Pa., etc.) 1955-current, August 06, 1994, Image 42

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    82-ljncaster Farming, Saturday, August 6, 1994
York County Correspondent
Cradling a small, plump bird in
his hands, Marvin Angle chuckles
that he has heard every pigeon
joke there is.
The New Freedom pigeon
breeder makes that observation
with a good-natured laugh, while
showing obvious pride in his loft
filled with cooing, nesting
Angle, a third-generation
pigeon breeder, specializes in
exhibition birds. His bloodlines,
breeding, and show knowledge
have wbn him national acclaim
and continuing judging invitations
across the U.S. and in Canada. In
recent years, he has exported
numerous prize-winning birds to
buyers in Kuwait and Malaysia.
A favorite pigeon of Marvin Angle’s is this Bronze Gazzi,
which has won best of show honors.
Marvin Angle’s loft is designed so that individual pigeons and pairs have thelrown
nesting or perching areas.
Birds that Angle and nearly 900
other members of the National
Pigeon Association breed, show,
and sell are a far cry from those in
flocks of wild pigeons common to
farms across the country. Like any
prized breeding species, these
exhibition pigeons are carefully
mated for enhancement of desir
able characteristics, identification
tagged, have recorded pedigrees,
and are health-certified for show
and sale.
‘There are 238 color combina
tions in the breed, from solid
white to reds, yellows, bronzes,”
said Angle, pointing out desirable
colors and type conformation
traits on his prize-winning Gazzi
pigeons. When several colors
combine in a mottled, multicolor
blend, their coloration is called
An International Market
Gazzis are a type of Modena
pigeons, a species of round,
plump-breasted bird more resem
bling a small chicken than the
familiar shape of a wild pigeon.
Angle breeds five species of
pigeons, including the heavier
Hunarian types. He also breeds
and raises homing pigeons, not for
racing competition but because of
their excellent parenting skills and
ability to raise chicks of other
pigeons. Some of the offspring of
the racers he donates to inner-city
youngsters getting started in the
hobby of pigeon breeding and
“My grandfather was a ‘squab
man’ who raised and dressed
young pigeons for restaurants in
Chicago and New York,” Angle
said. His own father, who later
became a poultry producer, began
saving some of the best of the
lines and became interested in
exhibiting them.
When Angle was six, he con
tracted polio. After he temporarily
lost his eyesight and use of his
legs from the disease, his father
got him pigeons as pets, which he
could hear during his
Angle won his first trophy at
age 8, for a Hungarian silver cock.
It was the start of this lifelong
hobby, which his own son, Kevin,
Now also enjoys as a fourth
generation pigeon breeder. Father
and son exhibit their pigeons as
near to home as the York Fair and
as far away as national shows on
the West Coast.
The Angle lofts house between
300 and 400 pigeons at various
ages, from thumb-size, day-old
hatchlings to full-grown, two
pound adults of the larger breeds.
While a pair of pigeons will mate
for life. Angle prefers to cross var
ious bloodlines. Selective inbreed
ing is also used in matings to
enhance desirable show and type
Pigeons reach breeding maturi
ty at about six months. Both hen
and cock care for the two eggs,
which she will lay during a
48-hour period, taking turns at
12-hour nesting shifts. The chicks
hatch 19 days after the first egg is
For the first week of their lives,
the young birds are fed “pigeon
milk,” a nutritious liquid produced
Top awards at National Pigeon Association shows are
often in the form of beautifully handcarved breed repro
ductions such as the one held by Marvin Angle. A display
case behind him holds many more of his awards accumu
lated over the years.
Jfome stead
by the pigeons for their tiny, feath
erless infants. Then, they progress
to being fed by their parents the
same feed that the adults consume,
reprocessing in their digestive sys
tems for the babies.
When a pigeon chick is about
one week old, the small, metal
identification tag is slipped over
one foot and will remain there for
the bird’s lifetime. Different col
ors are used for different years,
and tiny number codes identify the
individual birds and its owner.
Angle’s coding includes the letter
Pigeon shows are highly com
petitive, often with thousands of
entries from across the country.
The birds are judged on a point
system based on selective traits
such as tail lift, straightness of
head, position of legs, and rich
ness of feather coloration. Judges
handle each bird, spreading the
wings to examine their coloring,
checking the body condition of the
A pair of 10-day-old Gzzl pigeon chicks can easily be
cradled in Marvin Angle’s hand.
bird, and examining the keel, or
“I try to work with and handle
the birds several house each day,”
Angle said of accustoming his
pigeons to the hands-on judging.
“The more you handle them, the
better they are about it.”
Even the toenails of a pigeon
are examined in judging, since
each breed should have certain
coloration on the feet and toenails.
The Gazzi breed, one of the most
competitive in numbers, should
have black toenails.
“Thai’s why you’ll always see
Gazzi breeders carrying a black
marker pen around at shows,” said
this veteran show judge. Often
accompanying Angle to shows is
his brother, Gerald, a Maryland
resident, who is also an official for
the NPA shows.
Angle’s show expertise has put
him in demand for “trimming”
seminars for pigeon show enthu-
(Turn to Pago B 3)