News and Updates

   The health of the birds continues to improve. Yes there are still birds that succumb to the disease but a lot are improving day by day. Four hundred and fifty are in good health. Sixty more become more active everyday and now fly to the top perch. The rest have away to go. We have 560 birds left in the loft.

    CFIA has established a probable time line of when the disease entered the loft and began to spread. They will now begin to try and trace back to the source.

   The Canadian Food Inspection Agency { CFIA } is in contact everyday and was here this week. Things are still in limbo as two more tests need to be completed. These will determine how dangerous our situation is to the poultry industry in our area, in Ontario and to the rest of Canada. One question that I had has been answered. When the birds recover and are healthy, they do not shed the Virus and will not do harm. 

   It will be June 10th or so when all the results are published. Untill then, we wait.




   The birds alive as of last night are now up loaded under the wincompanian " Bird" tab. If it is alive, it has a green dot at the end of the line. There will not be any more dots added to the list but there will be dots removed each day. Sorry to say that. 

   The disease is slowing down. The birds in sick bay are almost all back on perches and the green slime has stopped but, unfortunately, the last groups collected are now showing signs of illness. It takes about two weeks being exposed to the virus before the birds become seriously ill. Hopefully this quits in a couple of weeks.



    In the past, we had crosses to bear. Last season, a new loft and trailer sent us on our way up ending us on as high a note as you could want. Great races with great returns ending with birds in such excellent condition we could have done the whole series again. This year we were sure the stars had aligned and so did you. The number that signed up and sent birds was staggering. We turned folks away. After the lockdown we still had some show up and we were forced to return them.

    We felt that with Dr Rubins help, nothing would go wrong. Then Mother Nature showed up and said" here, hold my beer. I am going to show you what a disaster realy looks like." And she did.

    Let me tell you what 700 pigeons dying in a matter of days does to your outlook on life and your enthusiasm. It makes a bottle of rum for breakfast mighty appealing. 

    The dying has slowed to a trickle and what we have left are three distinct group of birds. There are those who came thru without as much as a scratch. There are those who took a turn for the worse but quickly bounced back. There are those alive but with nervous disorders or so thin they may not come back. As I do inventory, the healthy ones will be done first. From good to not so good. The good may reach 400, the bad are the last 100. We will do inventory starting today. On wincompanion, under the tab' Birds' you will find a green dot behind your birds info that shows it is elligable to race. That dot will be behind all birds that are alive. This will take me untill the weekend to update. Please have patience. I will post when I have completed my job. As birds die, we will remove their dot.

     All is not conclusive yet. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has test that will not have results till the first of June. Worse case, if the virus is aggresive, all birds will be euthanized. Best, if chickens will not suffer, the birds will be allowed to race. CFIA hopes the latter will win out. So do we.

    Linda and I, with the help of a lawyer and accountant have come up with a plan to move forward. All race fees will be returned. Those who paid but did not send the birds will get some perch and taxes back. All adjustments will be worked out for each team and sent out shortly. Those whose birds arrived after we found out about the Virus will have all their money refunded. Those who haven't paid owe us perch fees and taxes.

     Perch fees and taxes will stay with us. When the birds are given the green light, we will train and hold the race program with of course, the needed adjustments re time, etc. We hope that all races can be flown. You will be flying for bragging rights only. There will not be any prize money this year. We will have pools and we will be creative end try to find something to please you all. We hope to have the tent and hope we will be able to provide a meal.

    Linda and I are overwhelmed by the phone calls and emails wishing us the best and telling us to not lose faith and continue on. You have no idea how important these messages have been to our mental health and well being. We thank you for your kindness.

Linda and Rick

SATURDAY, MAY 16, 2020

     Please read this carefully infact read it twice. I donot enjoy giving you this news. This is not just happening to me. It is making the rounds. 

    It started about 4 weeks ago in our one loft. A couple of birds looked dopy and listless. The next day more and so on and so on. A week later, one died then two then four untill sixty or so had died. Dr Rubin and I were sure it was a virus. Treating the birds didn't help. The symptoms were those of Circo-virus. On  May 10th, Dr Rubin decided that we should take five birds to Guelph for testing to make sure of what we were dealing with. Monday May 11 birds were sent off and Thursday May 14 preliminary results were reported to us not by Guelph University but by the Candian Food Inspection Agency. What they had found was not Circo Virus but PMV-1. PMV can be both neurological and intestinal. In our loft we found a small number showing nervous disorders. The intestinal version, CFIA called wasting away disease and what happens is they sit and stop eating but not drinking and within a few days they fade away. There is absolutely nothing that we can do to save them. Some recover, lots don't. The mortality rate is high. Not every bird in our loft is infected in fact, 40% are in excellent shape and ready to start training. Two hundred or so, the last group collected show no signs at the moment and look and handle well. The loft has been divided up and the birds are sorted into these three groups.

   I querried CFIA re our vaccinating the birds and mentioned that most fanciers did their own at home. Was this not suppose to stop these infections? The Winnepeg Lab which handles all major outbreaks dismissed the effectiveness of the vacine available to us in Canada. They stated that at best, it was useless. 

   What started our problems was, in plain English, brought on by one or more lofts who have or have had this problem at home. CFIA has taken the names of all who have birds in our race and I believe they will try to trace the source of this problem. The strain we have is aggressive and does effect chickens. They do not want this to spread. Be prepared for a call.

   Friday evening, CFIA showed up at our house and loft and we are now in lockdown. No birds are allowed to enter. None are allowed to leave. They are not allowed outside. They can sit in our fly pens. I have a very strict protocal that I have to follow which includes a shower after every visit to the loft and washing my cloths after every visit. I am not allowed into my personal loft nor are we allowed to race. Humans can also catch this disease and I plan on following all the rules.

   Lockdown will last at least untill the end of July. If the disease is brought under control and the birds regain good health, CFIA has said that we will be allowed to race in the fall.

   So here is where Salem Special stands at this moment:  A decision on whether to race will be made by the end of July. By that point, we will know who has birds, who hasn't and how I am going to handle the fall out. If there is a complete shut down, race fees will be returned. Since I suspected a problem on Sunday, May 10, 2020, any teams collected after this date will have all their money returned, that is perch, race fees and taxes.

   At present we sit tight and hope for the best. the mortality rate today was much lower than in the last two days. We need a miracle.



   I will be in Toronto Thursday evening at about 7 PM.  I will be at the airport and will sit awhile at Burger King for those who want to deliver birds. 


MAY 12, 2020

   The birds are out every day. The group gets larger with more and more finding their way out. They have become very comfortable with three of us working in and around the loft and are now a pain having to move them out of the way before we can clean. We have another employee. Her name is Georgia and she helps clean and feed the birds.  On Sunday, Dr Rubin took samples from the birds to check for any underlying issues.

   On Thursday, May 14, I will be in Cornwall at 9 AM to pick up east side birds. Meet me at the Irving Service Centre. On the way back, I will stop anywhere you want to meet along the 401. I will be in Toronto this week. There are flights coming from four different areas but as of today, I don't know the days or the times. Please check here often and I will post as soon as I know. 



PICKUPS, MAY 9, 2020

   We will not be at the Toronto airport this week. We will be on the road on Saturday and can meet you anywhere along the HWY 401. We will be at Baden Feed at 10:00 AM. We will be in Woodstock at Tim Hortons/Wendy's parking lot at 12:00 noon. Then we will work our way back Home. We already have a pickup at HWY 6 and 401. Call if you want to meet. 


















   Things have been rather hectic. Five trips to the airport this week plus one trip north , one trip east, loads meeting at Burger King, seeing Dale at the border and then those that come to the house.  On top of that, Arlis and I are changing the layout of the loft a bit. We've adding more perches in odd places such as over windows over doors and along the tops of every wall that doesn't have perches on it. More places for them to call their own. So far we have added oodles of little spots which gives us a total of 1688 actual perches. Still, when I go in after dark to tuck them into bed, all the front sun wall wall has birds sitting on the cross sills. They just have to find a different spot to snooze. at present, more than a thousand birds are in the loft. Each night I try to update the list [ some nights I just stare at the screen pretending I am awake].

    The birds are out everyday for at least six hours. With us in the loft so much, most find their way out. Group two has been out for three days and they are also starting to fly with group one. Baths are a daily ritual as is picking in the grass. With us inside so much, the hawk has managed to pick a couple of the roof. When he hits, we can hear the birds scramble and take to the air. Lift off sounds like an elephant landed on the roof. Must be their wings slapping on the metal. 

   All this driving has worn out my driver. Sunday AM saw us at the airport at 6 and in the evening at 9.  The drive back and forth takes 5 hours. Our truck is being rebuilt and the rental can only be driven by her. Last time she'll go to rent a vehicle. She is adamant I keep my hands off it. When she recoups and when Arlis and I complete our adjustments in the loft, Linda will take videos of the birds in and outside the loft and you can see what we have accomplished.

    Actually had a cup of coffee with friends this week, six feet apart of course and out on the deck in the sun. Sooo nice to sit and chat or in my case [deaf] sit and shout.


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