Pigeon racing with old birds and yearlings: nest play vs. classic widowhood

In pigeon racing, there are several ways to play old birds and yearlings, namely via nest play and classical widowhood. Both methods have their advantages and disadvantages, and it is up to the pigeon fancier to decide which method best suits his or her pigeons.

Nest play

In nest play, the pigeons are played based on their natural instincts. The hens and cocks are paired and form a nest together. The pigeons are then played in nest position, which means they can only fly when they have eggs or are feeding young. The advantage of nest play is that the pigeons feel better and therefore perform better. In addition, nest play can be an excellent motivation for the pigeons to return to their loft and feed their young.

Classic widowhood

In classic widowhood, the pigeons are played without their partners. The idea is to motivate the pigeons to return home faster by separating them from their partner and rewarding them when they return to their loft. The advantage of classical widowhood is that the pigeons often concentrate better on racing since they are not distracted by tending to their partners and youngsters.


In pigeon racing with old and yearling cocks/offspring, classical widowhood is usually used. The cocks/offspring are separated from their partner and must motivate themselves to return to their loft quickly. It is important to motivate the cocks/offspring well, for example by having them train in groups or by rewarding them with a special treat when they return to their loft.


In pigeon racing with old and yearling hens, classic “widowhood” is also usually used. The hens are first paired and raise 1 round of youngsters. Then they are placed in a “rest pen” during the week. When they come home from the flight, they join their stay-at-home partner in the loft where they raised youngsters. Then they are separated again and return to the resting pen during the week. The resting pen is often a pen with all kinds of “chapels” without living boxes. This is to prevent mating.


An important aspect of pigeon racing is the motivation of the pigeons. In classic widowhood, a motivation system is often used, such as showing the hen or making her sound, to motivate the pigeons. In nest play this is less necessary because the pigeons are already motivated by their natural urge to protect their young.

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