We all know that everything is relative so as the altitude in which our birds are able to climb up to. Sure there are many breeds of High flyers in the world but none come close to Persian High flyers who soar the skies climbing to out of our sight altitudes.
The behavior is pretty common with the breed to the point in which there is actually a word made up for it "MAYEH".
In a normal day, they will climb to mayeh, drop altitude every now and then, so we can locate and see them, then climb up again, back and forth till they finally descend to come down and land. Watching the birds in that height is like a rush. Having the birds in optimum condition is crucial for their success and owner's enjoyment.
Of course flying that high has its own downfalls. Birds can get lost due to some unknown phenomena which I personally have struggled with for as long as I’ve flying these birds for more than 40 years both in Tehran and here in the States.
Now, my rule is this, if I see them at least once an hour, as it must be the case in competition, they are okay, they are in total control and every thing is good. Birds and I are all happy and enjoying the flight.
Two hours go by and I don’t see them, I start getting nervous. 3 or more hours go by with no sign of them, something has gone wrong and they are lost in trouble. Now waiting time begins. I start to look for them high in the horizons all around the loft. Birds coming home usually are flying at mid height after descend several miles away. The chance to find home in a timely manner decreases as mileage from home increases.
It’s a great feeling for both the bird and the owner when our bird finds his home. You will see the excitement in your bird as soon it realizes that his search is over and here it is “HOME”.
For old birds with many flying hours under their belt, on the average 2 out of 3 will make it. Young inexperienced birds are much more susceptible to get lost in “mayeh” and 2 out of 3 will not be able to make it home. So its best not to fly them with the old birds and limit their first year flights to mostly settling, training and conditioning.
The exact reason or reasons why our birds get lost in mayeh, is open for speculation especially when the bird is older and has a few years and many hours of flying behind him and "fully settled" so to speak.
We won’t know for sure, could be a presence of BOP, or high winds due to a jet-stream, or maybe they go too high that thinner air, lower pressure and lack of oxygen causing a temporary amnesia in our birds causing disorientation resulting nervousness and fear.
Maybe one day with the use of transmitters, we can monitor their behavior flying out of sight and follow our birds exact location.
Pigeons flying at altitude of about 2500 feet are like a needle point in the sky. You have to look very hard to locate them. Above 2500 feet they start to disappear and when at about 3000 ft they are completely out of sight and it is when we refer their location as “mayeh”.
Now how far beyond that point they go, we don't know but there must be a limit.
Based on average pigeon size weighing between 6 to 12 oz and based on its anatomy, it estimated that the max altitude a pigeons could climb to is around 6000 feet. We all know the higher the altitude, the thinner the air, the lower the pressure and the lower oxygen level.
Now if for any of the reasons I mentioned above, the condition will become dangerous and unbearable to handle causing the bird to get scared and disoriented and nervousness will set in. The fear combined with thinner air that make for faster speed of flight, will cause the bird fly nervously and go straight away from loft and end up to 100 miles away in a couple hours or so. He will then gain control, descends to look for his loft but finds himself lost with no landmark he recognizes.
He will then starts to search for landmarks he recognize, and hopefully for him, he repeatedly chooses the correct directions as his search goes on.
He is in good condition and with luck on his side he will find home.
On their journey home, they may encounter many obstacles to overcome. There are BOP’s. There are crows looking to target exhausted pigeons.
For some, the search for home continues with no end in sight. They eventually run out of gas, dehydration and hunger sets in and with no muscle or flesh left in their bodies they are done with.
There are rare cases when a bird shows up at home after weeks or even months. Those are the lucky ones or maybe hardier ones that somehow with the help of humans or other birds find water and feed in their long journey.
In Iran most birds lost will be captured by other pigeon keepers who are searching the skys for strays and hardly any of them will die in nature.
God bless and good luck ,