In the de Bruin household, pigeon racing is a family affair.
When Roel de Bruin walks through the loft where he keeps his birds, the drumming of his footsteps keeps time to the symphony of coos from the dozens of racing pigeons which call the space home.
De Bruin is the president of the Sudbury Racing Pigeon Club, the small but diehard group of 13 Sudburians who still practise the ancient art of pigeon racing.
He became involved with the sport four years ago.
“That's my hobby,” he says.
But it's not only his hobby. De Bruin shares his interest with both his wife and son.
Each member of the family keeps racing pigeons and compete against each other, and against other members of the Sudbury Racing Pigeon Club.
The races are interesting in that, it is not really a spectator sport. De Bruin explains that the birds are loaded into a trailer, which can hold up to 880 birds, then are taken outside of the city to another location or community.
Once at the starting point, the birds are released and, true to their ability, the pigeons hone in on their homes and shoot off in that direction.
The winner is judged by the speed it travels back to its home.
De Bruin says keeping pigeons is a commitment, as it is not all about simply feeding the birds — although with a flock of hungry creatures that can be quite a job.
“It's not for everybody,” he said.
And while other animal owners might worry about their animal becoming lost or injured, few — except maybe chihuahua owners — have to worry about predatory birds.
De Bruin does. He loses about 20 pigeons a year to hawks.