HOME Eyes of Champions Eyesign 101 Eye Sign Links Mike van der Jagt



The purpose of creating these eye sign pages is two fold.  First, to photograph the eyes and record the performances of the birds flying the Le Tour Des Maritimes Futurity and the handful of Rose Hill Loft birds that are flown against them.  Second, for enjoyment of other eye sign enthusiasts who are trying to make some sense of this fascinating and controversial topic.  I do not profess to be an eye sign expert with a great flying record in big competition but I humbly admit my birds fly better than most.  I have read extensively on this topic and have linked these articles at Eye Sign Links. 

I am not a professional photographer.  Initially the photographs were taken under varying natural light conditions through my den window.  Consequently, some of the pupils were larger than normal and eyes varied in brightness.  The photographs have been upgraded regularly as I learn the techniques necessary to capture the eye as close to reality as possible.   

Photographing pigeons is a hobby and I began photographing the eye during the winter of 2000.  The first camera used was a digital Kodak DC290 with 10 and 7 power lenses.   Next an Olympus Camedia 3030 Zoom was experimented with.  In the summer of 2001 I began photographing the eye with a Nikon Coolpix 880.  In 2002 I will be using a Nikon Coolpix 995 with a macro mode that allows photographs to be taken from a distance of 2 cm. 

Eye sign is a very hotly debated topic.  There are those that argue that it is the ultimate selection tool and nothing else matter and others that simply state, "the only important factor is that the racing pigeon has two eyes."

One thing is for certain.  Everybody looks at the eyes but not everybody agrees on what to look for.  For now, I look for small pupil size, iris density and a strong circle of correlation.

My position on eye sign, from years of observation and experience, is that using this theory can be useful in selecting stock birds.  I pay very little attention to it for selecting flyers.  However, if you have an excellent flyer with a great eye, the probability increases that it will also be a good breeder.  I can't recall handling an excellent breeder without good eye sign characteristics.  On the other hand, I have handled many birds with great eyes that were worthless.  Unfortunately, I bought too many.

I have concluded that there seems to be a strong correlation between birds possessing good eyes as I define them and breeding potential.  It is not causal; that is, having a good eye does not guarantee breeding potential.  Let me explain with a simple example.  The average height of basketball players in the NBA exceeds 6' 6''.  Not all tall individuals are excellent basketball players.  Also, being taller than the average does not make you a great basketball player.  Occasionally, a 5' 6" player has been successful but this is very rare.  One would think that someone towering at 7' 6" would dominate the game.  However, we find that these players often do not have other characteristics necessary to play the game well.  Similarly, a pigeon may have a great eye but lack many other factors.  In addition to eye sign, the bird must have the breeding, athletic ability and heart to play the game.

In conclusion, my opinion is that if a bird possesses a good eye and is from a family of good performing family it is probably a good candidate for the stock loft.  I am convinced that using eye sign as your last selection tool increases your the probability of selecting better stock birds.

I hope you enjoy these pages and feel free to e-mail me with your comments.

Andrew Skrobot