GPS and budapester highflyers

GPS-data: summary 2010

By the start of the 2010 saison I had only one male left, which was the only candidate for having the GPS-device. It was not the best pigeon of the flock and all the others were breeding. The male was a late youngster of 2009 and during the flights it was always accompanied by young birds 2010. I lost the pigeon with the device during a flight in June. It never came back, despite the name-rings with my mobile number on it.

Date Interval (sec) duration total distance (km) max. speed (km/u) avg. speed highest point (m) max. dist. from loft (m) nmbr of fixes
21/5 1 00:44 17.15 62.26 23.39 236 170 2630
22/5 1 01:52 73.2 80.43 39.21 833 500 6770
23/5 1 02:15 91.3 72.47 40.58 583 1220 8122
24/5 1 01:34 45.22 75.82 28.87 329 330 5691
29/5 1 01:41 45:93 82.84 27.29 512 630 6069
3/6 15 00:36 9.19 71.23 15.32 204 310 602
4/6 10 01:04 41.62 96 38.78 941.5 2000 389
5/6 10 00:26 7.43 59.24 17.15 279.49 210 159
13/6 10 01:42 51.62 81.08 30.36 520 900 614
22/6 10 00:31 8.71 71.97 16.87 236 290 192
23/6 10 02:00 30.31 59.76 15.16 424 590 726

The above table summarizes all measurements from 2010. The values are less accurate then those of tipplers because I don't train them as strict as the tipplers. Sometimes budapesters stay on the roof of the loft while they shouldn't. Such a situation might influence average speed calculations. This was compensated by a self-developed software utility in an attempt to filter out such situations. Generally speeking, the results do not reflect the quality of the birds. During this part of the season my attention goes to the training of tipplers. Accurate training of my budapesters would certainly lead to better results in height and duration. A small explanation on the data:

  • Interval: number of seconds between each fix (meaesurement). One second is far too much and generates too much data. 5 seconds is a good alternatif.
  • Duration: in hours:minutes: from the moment they are released until they land (filtered out loft situation explained above)
  • Total distance traveled during the flight; more accurate with a small interval.
  • Maximum speed measured during the flight
  • Average speed: there is much variation in the calculated data, for the reasons described above.
  • Highest point: obviously an important point for highflyers. Depends on training and condition, and the birds populating the flock. The highest altitude measured is 940 m and quit impressive. I am convinced that they can go higher; see next season.
  • Maximum distance from loft: distance measured from the fix to the loft position. There is often a correlation between the recorded height and the distance from the loft. The macimum distance was 2 km which is a lot for these birds (tipplers only go 600 m away from the loft). Budapester need more navigation skills to come back to the loft after when flying on heigh altitudes.

GPS-data: details

Let's look at the details of some flights. In the graphs below, the blue line represents the evolution of the altitude (left Y-axis). The distance from the loft is represented by the red line (right Y-axis). The red line is close to zero when the pigeon is close to the loft.

flight 5/21
flight 21/5 A flight with four young pigeons. They show a typical pattern with alternating higher and lower altitudes. There is often a correlation between the height and the distance from the loft, indicating a drifting away at higher altitudes.
flight 5/22
flight 22/5 A nice flight with the typical up and down movements. They stay in the neighbourhood of the loft.
flight 5/29
flight 29/5 A variation: A constant altitude; the loft distance indicates large circles and they come back above the loft on a regular basis.
vlucht 6/4
flight 6/4 A flight of about one hour with a record height of 941 m. It also recorded the largest distance from the loft: 2 km. The flight was performed in the evening and still a lot of wind. Drifting away from the loft happens between 500 and 900 m of altitude. At a certain point they decided to come back, as indicated by the steeply descending red line. This flight illustrates how you can loose pigeons. This time they came back.
vlucht 6/13
flight 6/13 Nothing special.
movie Nothing special.

Flight movies

The charts above do not illustrate everything. Below are two movies made as screenshots from Google Earth which illustrate the flight pattern of a budapester pigeon. The flight starts at the loft, indicated by a flag. The dots represent the fix while the vertical lines give some feedback on the position relative to the ground.

This is the flight of May 22th with a maximum height of 833 m and a maximum distance of the loft of 500 m. GPS registration is done with an interval of 1 second, which is translated into a very fluent flight pattern on the screen.


The second flight is the flight of June 4th with a maximum altitude of 941 m and a maximum distance from the loft of 2 km. The fix interval is 10 seconds.