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National German Modena Club

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Quarterly Bulletin 11-09
Next bulletin 2-10
Get me your show reports and pictures by
the end of Jan. 2010

Let’s Do this

Hello Everyone,

Hope you all had a great breeding season and are looking forward to a successful show season. There seems to be a growing interest in the German Modenas and I felt compelled to try and start the club up again. I am more than happy to update and better the National German Modena Club web site, but without the input from all interested in the breed, these online bulletins will not be any more than a report on how the breed is doing here on the west coast. I’m usually able to make it to 3 or 4 shows here in California and that is just not enough to make this thing very interesting. So, please try your best to at least get a picture of the champions at your local shows and send me a little report. Even if you have to use your cell phone to take the picture, shoot them off to me at: and if you are not able to send me a little report, give me a call at: 408-313-1180 and I’ll be sure to write something up.   

For now this club will be an online club only! There will not be any dues for now, but if we get going we can look into having dues, so that we can provide some type of awards at the National or Pageant. Your ideas on this would be more than welcome. Just shoot me an e-mail or post your message on the German Modena yahoo group site.

We will NOT be mailing out bulletins, but we will have a bulletin page on this site that will be updated quarterly. What we do ask is that if you would like to be a part of this club that you take the time to send in your name(or loft name), city and state which you live. You can also submit any contact info you would like to have posted on the members page, such as a phone number, e-mail address or web site address. Please also tell us how long you have been breeding German Modena’s and which colors you are breeding them in.  Again, this info will be listed on the member’s page.

For the bulletin page, please also send in show reports, loft reports, loft visits, pictures of some of your favorite birds etc... Of course any articles or additional info that can be used in the bulletin page would be very much appreciated.

Also be sure to join the German Modena yahoo chat site at;

German Modenas at the Northern

 California Pigeon Fanciers Show

 This was the first show of the season for us here in Northern California. It is an early one, but for this club to have a show around this time of year, they need to put it on early. We have the Great Western in Watsonville, CA. and shortly after that is the Cavalcade of Pigeons in Fresno CA., then the Pageant of Pigeons in Southern California (San Bernardino).

I believe this was the second show for the Northern California Pigeon Fanciers Club and they did a great job. There was a good variety of breeds represented and the quality was abundant. They had John DeCarlo Jr and John Heppner do the judging for all the breeds and those two guys have a ton of judging experience between them. Both of them have judged many shows and breeds in the past.

There were approximately 24 German Modenas in various colors with a good depth of quality throughout. I believe there would have been more, but this early in the season many birds were just not in show condition.

A big congratulation goes out to Adrian Carrera of Watsonville, CA. for winning champion with a beautiful Blue Check Gazzi hen.  This little hen was very impressive. She has great markings and was in super condition. Good job Adrian. At the end of the show she also was the Reserve Champion of the whole show, with 4 judges evaluating the overall winners of each breed.


Champion Blue Check Gazzi
Bred By Adrian Carrera


John Heppner and John DeCalo Jr.
Judging the German Modenas

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2009 Great Western Report

 Well, this is the show that my local club, the Santa Clara Valley Pigeon Club puts on. We have grown every year for the past few years and this year we were up to over 1800 birds. I was going to judge the German Modenas this year, but was not able to make the show. I was able to go on Thursday and setup the show and then was able to make it on Friday to help check people in. Long story short, I ended up having a Kidney Stone (actually passed two of those little suckers) and was not able to make the show.

We have had almost 40 German Modenas at this show the past few years, but this year with me not showing and few other guys not being able to make it, there we only 19 German Modenas shown this year. From what I hear the quality was still very high and we did pick up a new exhibitor, Art Pamplona.  

 We had Ron Bordi do the judging for us this year and he did a great job. He has judged for us in the past and has always been very informative and fair in his assessment of the birds.  Even though Ron does not breed German Modenas, we were able to secure him the first time a few years ago. At that time, I was able to get him a copy of the standard ahead of time and being a long time pigeon fancier, he was able to study it and I believe we all agreed that he did a great job judging for us. 

This year’s big winner was Adrian Carrera with a very good looking Blue Black Bar Gazzi Old Hen. Wow Adrian, that’s two in a row!  Great job Adrian on getting your birds ready.   Once again a very nice looking and super marked bird.  Reserve Champion went to Art Pamplona with a Black Schietti Old Cock that I believe is a brother to last year’s champion Andalusion .  Good job guys and keep up the good


2009 Great Western Champion German Modena
Blue Black Bar Old Hen
Bred by Adrian Carrera


Reserve Champion
Black Schietti Old Cock
Shown by Art Pamplona

In the Beginning

The following two articles were discovered on an Italian website and give some insight into the training and flying of the Modena triganino pigeon.  The name is said to be an adaptation of the Greek word trigon which means dove because of the small size and sleek build of this flying breed.  The breed is also called the barchetto.  A barco is a hunting lodge, but barchetto could also be a form of the word barca/barchetta which means a little boat, due to the shape of the birds with their narrow, high front and back ends and wider, lower mid-section just like a gondola and some other traditional Italian boats have.  This is a flying bird that has many of the same characteristics as the English Modena and German Modena pigeons.

Early writings on the importation of the Modena to England and Germany in the second half of the nineteenth century describe birds of the hen pigeon type.  These both stood tall and had upright necks and tails, although a smaller-sized, finer bird was preferred in Germany than in England.  Selection in the two countries and later refinement in the US has lead to two distinctive breeds.  But what of the triganino that is still found in Modena?

Is the triganino the mother breed of the other two as is claimed by some sources, perhaps with the addition of hen pigeon bloodlines from other Italian breeds, or is it simply a sister breed that grew up with the others and shares certain color characteristics, such as the gazzi pattern, with them due to an appreciation of such colors among the Modenese breeders of different types of pigeons?  After all, incorporating the desired colors could be easily achieved by cross breeding and subsequent breeding back to the original line until type is re-established.

Interestingly, Bonizzi, the author credited with introducing the Modena outside Italy, speaks of one Modena pigeon, yet the birds he sent to Germany varied in size considerably.

The game that is referred to in the articles is an attempt to lure another player’s pigeons to join your flock and capture them without having your birds captured by another player.

The author of the two articles is unidentified on the website; they are translated by Sebastian Vallelunga.

The Uncovering of Memory

Re-reading, at a distance of some years, the cited article, I began to think of the future.  Our posterity, more or less distant, has heard of this winter sport, practiced in Modena from long ago times until the mid-twentieth century.  And what if someone takes it into his head to try to resume it?  The thing is possible if two or more persons agreed to revive it; for now there no longer exist those television antennas atop the houses that impeded, to the point of death, those low flights which scraped the roof tops.  But who would teach them how to train the pigeons as the old-time triganieri did?

In the many publications that outline or treat this material, I have not found any that give more than imprecise descriptions in this regard.  Even Bonizzi, who wrote a textbook on the matter of the Modena triganini pigeons, speaks of the game of pigeon flying in a descriptive form, without entering into the technical particulars.  The same is true for Malagoli, who at the end of the 1800’s wrote quite a bit about pigeons but more than anything about racing pigeons.  There was also a lexicon, published some forty years ago, by Professor Reggiani of Modena, which was very detailed in its description of the game and of the fixtures needed in keeping the pigeons, but for all that, in regards to training he revealed only superficial knowledge, and in some parts it was erroneous.

The rules for the art of flying and training the pigeons, how to have them change directions on command and to scrimmage with other flocks, according to my research, have never been written down.  They were passed down verbally for centuries, and above all by practical lessons, from a triganiere to his disciples, whether these were family or friends or simply quick-witted neighborhood boys who, in order to better see the game and learn it, had no problem about climbing into the loft to help the triganieri even in the most humble of cleaning or maintenance chores.

This custom became less followed well before the complete disappearance of the traditional form of the game, which happened in part due to having run its course and in part due to the events of the war in 1941-42:  and now those who have practiced this sport and know its secrets number only six or seven persons, very advanced in age, if not actually ancient.

For this reason, I am attempting to put down on paper how we flew and trained our pigeons and how posterity can proceed.  However, it will be a tiring attempt and I have many doubts about making myself completely understood.

First, by way of encouragement, I would say that maintaining thirty or so pigeons to fly and to breed is not a very onerous task.  The triganieri generally made the equipment and loft themselves with used boards and many nails, and the cost of acquiring pigeons now-a-days could be very low (if you are satisfied with individuals that are not of a particularly high quality).  To feed thirty pigeons takes about 750 grams of feed per day, made up of vetch (the main ingredient), a bit of wheat, corn, and milo.  In a year, less than three quintals (a quintal is equal to 100 units, whether pounds or kilos—trans.), at a reasonable average price and reasonable total for the year.

On the other hand, from fifteen pairs one will get an average of 75 or 80 squabs per year, which even if sold as meat birds, will realize enough to almost cover expenses.

So, one can cover the extra costs by refraining from smoking one cigarette or so per day.

However, I must say that the game is still quite a challenge because, during the preparation period, it is necessary to spend time with the birds every day, whether to perform the daily flight training or at least to put them out to keep them in training (excluding, of course, those days when it is impossible due to rain, snow, or fog), or to care for the pigeons, even on these inclement days, by giving them their daily rations of feed.

Flight Trained Pigeons and the Fundamental Elements of the Game

As was pointed out in an introductory article, the game takes advantage of some of the peculiar qualities of pigeons, that is, restraint and speed in flight, the effects of hunger and food rewards, the fear of a waving flag and of sharp whistles and loud sounds.  The elements of the game are the following:  1) trained pigeons; 2) staple food, that is, the giving of the allotted feed at the end of the day of flying; 3) the gustata and the giving of small portions of various special feeds as rewards; 4) the flag; 5) the whistles.

The Modena triganini pigeons, whether gazzi or schietti, retain their adaptations to flight because they are strong and free of imperfections either in their bodies or feathers.  Certainly, some are of more delicate feather and reluctant to be trained.  Like children at their studies, almost every individual pigeon is found early on to have diverse likes, levels of stamina, tastes and fears; but little by little they are brought together as a flock and become obedient and clever.  A practiced triganiere is almost certain to know how to train every pigeon, but a novice who struggles with a bird that doesn’t want to learn is better off quickly eliminating it because a pigeon that breaks away from the flock or stays to the rear can compromise the good outcome of a flight or even of a whole flock because it can transmit its vices to others.

Pigeons for training must be young, within their first year if possible.  And, moreover, it is necessary that they have been out in the open.  Those which, from birth, have always remained locked up in a coop, or as is said in triganieresco terminology, “don’t know roof tiles,” are very much at risk because at the first release they may glide down to the narrow streets or into a courtyard and be unable to rise back to the coop.

Within the flock of triganini may be kept a few homing pigeons or crossbreds with this race, but not many because the homing pigeon has a slower and less changing flight than the triganino and will retard the perfect training of the flock, but once they are accustomed to flying in a flock, many times they become the lead bird because they are stronger and more intelligent.

The number of components within the classic flock was twenty or thirty birds.  One may have considerably fewer, but it is best not to have an excessive quantity, at least due to the fact of inexperience of the trainer and the difficulties that may arise in feeding, etc.

Feeding is the basis of the flight.  It consists in the management of the coop, each day after work, in the quantity of feed that is given for each bird, sufficient for keeping it strong and muscular, but at the same time light enough to eliminate waste or fat,  in such a way that the birds will be obedient to the orders of the triganiere.

The feed for maintenance is generally constituted of milo mixed with cracked grain and vetch; this must be a seeding variety (mountain, Piacentian, Sicilian, etc.), excluding the “glassy” vetches that are not digested by pigeons and can cause them to suffer gravely.

One may add a handful of whole wheat grains or cracked wheat which are feeds with low protein. 

One should start by spreading a couple of fistfuls of milo and cracked grain on the floor of the coop then, when this is gone, give the vetch a little at a time and begin “regulating” the birds one by one.  Grasp each from above with its wings closed with one hand and appraise its weight, then with the other hand, feel the breast near the sternum to judge the roundness of the muscle first and then feel the crop.

If the crop has reached the desired fullness, according to the quantity described below, the pigeon is placed in a separate pen, the rest are left in the coop where they continue to feed.

Then one picks up another and then another, and then back to those that have been allowed to continue feeding, repeating the operation until none are left in the loft’s feeding area and the feeding is complete.  It is good once in a while to throw a few grains of milo into the separate pen to keep the birds from rushing the gate to return to the feeding area, where they know there is feed, and keeping the pigeons in the feeding area calm with a little milo and vetch.

After a few days, the triganiere will learn which birds are fastest at swallowing the grain and can check these first, and those which are habitually slower will remain the last to be examined; the operation must become ever faster to prevent some pigeons “escaping” examination and, therefore, eating more than desired.

Before continuing, it is necessary to define a few terms that are frequently encountered:

         “a morbino” is what a pigeon is called that has eaten as much as it wants during the feeding period

         “a fame” is what a pigeon is called that is kept to a lighter daily ration, to make it fly well or for other motives

         “stretto” is what a pigeon is called that is given a smaller quantity of feed than its normal daily ration

         “alto” on the contrary to the term above, this is a pigeon that has eaten more than its normal daily ration

         “stringere” and “alzare” are the corresponding verbs to describe the decreasing and increasing the rations compared to the average amount or the amount of the preceding days

In regard to the quantity of feed one may say, by way of indication and for birds that have already been regulated, that the crop must be filled to, but normally not to exceed, the size of a walnut; however, it can be much smaller and, rarely, even bigger in accord with the various necessities of the diverse phases of training or of the game and with the specific qualities of the feed in terms of nutrition and how filling it is; the external temperature is also a factor because the more the temperature lowers the more calories the pigeon needs to keep itself strong and dynamic.  The variations which necessitate the stringere or alzare will be dealt with later.

The medium daily quantity of feed is around 20/25 grams, but it may vary substantially by bird and by circumstances.  A triganino pigeon weighs, when it is a morbino in the area of 320 grams; when it is a fame the weight goes down, when the crop is empty, to around 275 grams.

The gustata is the food reward which is bestowed on the flock for a job well done.  One gives a small quantity of grain when the pigeons land on their own.  For the gustata the feeds they like best should make up the greatest part and those of the “premio” (prize—trans.) should be milo or cracked grain, wheat or wheat chips, and vetch.  Only rarely should “sleeping” maze be given because pigeons, when they have an empty stomach, seem drunk and lethargic when they eat it.  As will be said, the flock rapport will be increased with each phase of training and each game.  If the triganiere determines that they have not followed his commands, he is to give nothing to the flock; thus, “lo tira giu in niente” (he pulls them down to nothing—trans.) as one says using triganieresca terminology.

Some milo or cracked grain always serves to tempt the pigeons into the loft.

The “banderoula” or “straz” (flag or rag—trans.) is made of a dark cloth attached to a flexible handle.  The classic type is made from a few sections of black umbrella fabric loosely fastend on a handle made of a stick with a large knot or fork to hold on to because each handle will then have a large handhold which can be beaten on the surface of the roof deck to produce sounds to startle the pigeons (“stangheda”).  The flag serves to keep the pigeons far from the roof deck and to maneuver them back and forth or turn them to the right or the left as the triganiere has the opportunity.  When the flock is far away, it is always highly agitated because, at least it would appear, pigeons always have an eye for long distance flying, so the flock must be brought down and then called in to make them return home and descend to the deck.

The flag also serves at times to punish the pigeons when they make some grave error:  they are allowed to land on the deck, then rather than giving them their gustata, the flag is launched into their midst and struck on the deck with a few blows.  They will be so frightened that afterwards it takes a long time and a lot of patience before they return to land again.

One must never overuse this, if the pigeons become tired, they will go and land on some structure in the vicinity; they go “a ciurla” (they waiver—trans.); therefore, they cause the triganiere to “waiver” also, and this is, then, a big problem for the future as well.

The whistles are of two types.  Those done in a bass or low tone act as calls, whether to get them to land on the deck or to enter the loft.  Since every person has a different voice, each triganiere modulates his whistles differently; this is important because the pigeons of another triganiere will become suspicious at the sound of a strange whistle.

A sharp or high whistle, which one can also obtain with the help of tin whistles or with the help of the fingers, serves to make the pigeons fly far and high when they are in danger of being captured.

The season for playing the game is limited to the period from October to the first, or at most the middle, of March; not earlier because it is still too hot and the pigeons are still molting and not later because the whether improves and the pigeons are mating and obey reluctantly.

One may, in theory, fly them in all daylight hours, but in the early morning the pigeons need special encouragement, have not yet finished digesting the previous evening’s meal, and are sluggish; on the other hand, in the late afternoon they anxiously await their feeding and are reluctant to fly far from home.  The best conditions are to be had between the hours of 11 AM and 4 PM.

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