Painted Birds – Comaskey Properties

Whilst driving around in the Murcia or Valencia region you may see many flocks of brightly painted birds and wonder about this strange phenomenen.  So what exactly are these beautifully coloured birds? Do you know…?

When researching this article, I saw that the Daily Mail printed an article speculating about a rare coloured bird that had been seen in the UK, and it was clear to me on reading it, they had no idea that it was actually one of the pigeons used in this sport.

The pigeons are actually part of a competition. The non-painted pigeon is the sole hen amongst the flock and each of the male pigeons are painted in their owner’s colours so that they can be made more distinguishable. Those pigeons are trained to ‘romance’ the hen pigeon. A transmitter is used to help record what the other pigeons do. They are also watched and followed by a small group of pigeon-spotting-judges. They are quite intricately painted with non toxic food colouring.

This competition is a Valencia and Murcia wide custom called Colombicultura. Colom is pigeon in Catalan (it’s paloma in Spanish) and these particular pigeons are a breed called thief pouters.  In 1773, the first pigeon sports club was started in Murcia, but it wasn’t until more than 200 years later, in 1994, that pigeon-breeding was finally officially recognised as a national sport, when the Federación Española de Columbicultura was set up. So, if on your travels, you see flocks of garishly painted birds flapping around, these are the painted pigeons that make up the singularly Spanish sport of Columbicultura.  It’s actually potentially big money with it not being unusual for the eventual winner (owner of the most persuasive pigeon) to receive a prize of 10,000 euros.

I have often wondered when seeing them what the actual story is and they do look pretty when you see them against a blue sky.


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