Last updateFri, 21 Sep 2018 10am

Falling in love with la paloma

While the media is filled with chatter about futbol and béisbol, there is another sport dear to the heart of many Tapatios, which rarely ever makes news: pigeon racing.

Guadalajara is home to some 1,100 pigeon fanciers, who put up to 45,000 birds into competition every year.

In Spanish, raising and racing pigeons is called colombofilia, which comes from the Latin word columba, meaning dove or pigeon in English and paloma in Spanish. Pigeon fanciers say it is both an art and a sport, because it involves raising and caring for the bird, protecting it from sickness, and training it to be a deportista (sports competitor).

In metro-area Guadalajara there are approximately 25 clubs, all members of either La Unión Colombófila de Jalisco or La Asociación de Clubes Colombófilos de Guadalajara. Each year they hold two big events: one competition for birds over one-year-old and another for yearlings, young birds, called pichones in Spanish. Whoever wants to compete must register with a club which sends a representative to your house to take the exact GPS coordinates of your pigeon loft. Then, those of your birds that will compete are fitted with a band containing a Radio-Frequency Identification chip which is registered in a very sophisticated Electronic Timing Scanner, which you must purchase.

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