PAUL WALSH: A Passionate Flyer With An Incredible Record


by Alex Cornella
Cornella Family Loft

Paul Walsh is a fancier who is passionate about his birds and about winning. For the retired captain of the Scranton (Pennsylvania) Fire Department, no detail around the loft is too small. His phenomenal race record demonstrates what can be accomplished when hard work and a winning attitude are applied. “I fly to win each and every race I compete in,” Paul says. “You have to be on your toes and thinking all the time in this game or you will be left behind.”

Paul has been a member of the Scranton Club since 1979. The Scranton Club is part of the Lackawanna-Luzerne Combine (LLC), where he serves as the combine race secretary. He is also the 1st vice president of the International Federation of American Homing Pigeon Fanciers.

In 1997, Paul moved from his home in Scranton to the outskirts of the city in Greenfield Township. He started over at a new location and never missed a beat. Paul, his lovely wife Shirley and the birds moved the day after the last old bird race was flown and the LLC Combine average speed for the old bird series was sewn up.

At the old Scranton loft he won many races and average speeds, and his competition was relieved to see him change locations, figuring Paul made a big mistake by moving. “Everyone said I was done winning because I moved off of the line of flight. I moved from the short loft location in the club to the longest. But the doubters were wrong, because in the last four years I have won more than my share of races at the new loft,” Paul notes with a great deal of pride.


After years of study Paul pays no attention to strains. His is only interested in champion pigeons. “I am not a breeding station but a skilled flyer. My view on breeding depends on the situation. If l am going to breed for stock or flying,” Paul says.

He likes to inbreed for stock and outcross for flying. As a rule, he does not put just any bird in the breeding loft. It must be a champion or a daughter or a son of a champion. In the flying loft he will let two birds mate the way they like and may or may not take a pair of youngsters off them.

“I have a rule here at Walsh Loft. Breeders are for breeding and flyers are for flying. I do not ask my flyers to become my breeders, even the race winners,” he says.

Paul likes to cite a story about Ad Schaerlaeckens, the famed Dutch flyer and author. “When asked 'What strain do you have?' Schaerlaeckens says the champions in Holland and Belgium do not understand. What does this man want, a strain or a good bird? This is because the majority of the super birds in Europe are products of crossing.”

Paul goes on to question if 'pure strains' really exist? In Schaerlaeckens’ opinion they don't. Paul also cites the example of Jan Arden, a famous name all over the world for long distance. Now, some decades after his death, many people in Holland claim to have the pure Jan Aarden strain. “Most of them know better, but the name sells! And what is the truth? Just like Hofkens, Jan Aarden was always looking for the best. He bought birds everywhere and though he was not a very successful racer, later other fanciers were successful with the offspring of his pigeons,” Paul notes.

Paul agrees with Schaerlaeckens that American pigeon fanciers are naïve when it comes to the issue of pure strains. “They show off pure Bekaert, pure Wegge, pure Verheye, pure Hansenne, pure Bricoux, and pure Huyskens van Riel. These names are completely unknown to the younger generation in Europe,” Paul says.

When asked, “What is the best way to acquire new stock?” Paul thinks the smartest method is to go to a loft in the neighboring combine that is always in the diplomas. This flyer will not have to compete against you with his birds. He more than likely will sell you brothers or sisters to his winning birds. “They are the ones you should be interested in. Not birds out of a bird whose grandsire was a champ. I would rather have birds out of winners or the parents that have bred multiple winners, or even try to get the champions themselves,” Paul says. “A lot of auctions rarely auction off the winners themselves, but back in the pedigree there was a great champ. There are lots of pigeon dealers selling good birds, you just have to be lucky to find the right one.”


In the past Paul mated the birds together on Valentine's Day given that January and February are cold months here in the northeast. But today, with all the systems out there, you have to become a systems player or suffer the consequences of your club mates beating you. Whether you use the dark or light system, Paul believes you must breed early to compete and his breeding season starts Thanksgiving Day.

A health program prior to breeding is followed. The importance of his pre-breeding program is to insure optimum fertility and for the reproduction of healthy young birds. Four weeks before pairing he increases protein levels to around 18% to prepare the birds for the stress of breeding. This is accomplished by adding 20% protein pellets to the regular feed. Vitamins and minerals, including calcium, are offered three times a week. Powdered vitamins and minerals are added to the grit and changed every other day.

Paul orders all the vitamins and medications online from Three weeks before pairing he starts a 10-day course of a broad-spectrum antibiotic to clear up any bacterial problems. “Baytril may be a good choice if you have had a history of paratyphoid problems. It is always best to base your antibiotic choice on culture/sensitivity tests. Start a five-day course of canker treatment. The drugs used to control canker are Ridzol, Emtryl, Spartrix, and Flagyl. Paul believes it is best to treat three weeks before pairing up, then again while on eggs. Two weeks before pairing he treats for coccidia with Corid or Sulmit for five days and worms with one or two drops of Ivomec orally per bird.

He then increases light to 14 hours a day. He turns the lights on in early morning so the birds have a natural dusk. If dusk is at 6 p.m., he turns lights on at 4 am and off at 8 or 9am. He says then the birds should be given a rest from medications to decrease the risk of developing resistance to these drugs and allow the birds to develop some level of natural immunity.

According to Paul, to fly young birds with success on a system, you must have many early youngsters. Paul raises between 50 to 70 babies for his young bird team. One thing he does to accomplish this is to put the young birds on the loft floor in the breeder's compartment when they are from 12-14 days old. This way the youngsters of a cock that is driving and is not paying enough attention to the youngsters will be fed by another cock or hen. The added benefit is that the breeders go down early on the second set of eggs.

Another advantage Paul finds with this method is that he does not have to spend the time to clean each and every nest bowl daily. He just puts sawdust on the floor and the young birds lay on it. At night he leaves a night light on in the breeding loft and he has seen young birds getting fed at 5 am. “I have had no problem with young birds getting scalped or beaten up, and I am able to take a couple of young birds from my flyers and put them on the breeding loft floor. The breeders pump them up just the same,” Paul says. “Just before dark it is a sight to see six or seven cocks going to each and every young bird to see if it wants to be fed. My young birds are eating by themselves when they are real young and are flapping their wings on the loft floor, developing muscle while other flyers’ young birds are still sitting in the nest.”

Paul advises that vaccinating young birds is very important. He waits until the entire young bird team is bred and moved to the young bird loft, then vaccinates the whole group for paramyxovirus (PMV) and parathyroid. However, he is reluctant to give both vaccines at the same time.


Early in his racing career, Paul would take the young bird team 35 to 50 miles for their first toss, and they usually beat him home. He has since stopped this training method. Now he gives open loft prior to road training. Young birds loft fly daily for one hour until some time in April. “I then increase loft flying to twice a day, one hour each time,” he says.

In May road training starts and the young bird team will be in the crates often. . There is a church two miles away from the loft he often uses as a release point. “I train my birds myself. I do not use a training truck or train with other lofts. This way other birds are not pulling my team off my line of flight. I am always sure of exactly where they were liberated and how the weather is at that moment,” he notes.

Anything can happen on these early training tosses, so he picks a good day and gives the birds plenty of time to get home. The next liberation spot is six miles away and he will go there every day, weather permitting, perhaps 10 to 15 times. At this point the birds are starting to get into condition and he wants to get in their heads that the crate is part of their life. From the six-mile point he goes 15, then 30 miles, and once he gets to 50 miles, he will sit there for a period of time. He will train them out to 100 miles more then one time before the first race. “I do not like to single toss, but prefer groups of 15 to 20. I like to train youngsters on nice days, not like I do with the old birds,” Paul says.

At times bad days cannot be avoided, so Paul is careful to bring the birds back if he has doubts about the weather. “I like to train with a head wind because the birds will get that usually on race day as the season is changing and there is a lot of north wind for young birds,” he says.

Once the races start, every young bird not entered in the race goes to the 100-mile station on race day. This is done to keep the whole team under the same type of stress each and every day. Young birds are trained on line, but sometimes he will jump off that line for a shock toss. Paul believes the shock toss will get their heads back on right and you may win the week you do this.

“My young birds are flown to the perch, widowhood or mated. It all depends on the loft situation at the time,” he says. Paul will hold young birds back and not race them. He believes you can race a young bird hard, but you can't race it hard as a yearling. He will prepare some birds until they become yearlings by just training hard and letting them fly one or two races.

When they come home from a race they have a full hopper of feed in front of them all day. After young bird season he vaccinates all birds on the premises for PMV and paratyphoid. To play it safe, he gives a paratyphoid booster three to four weeks later.


“Probably the best tip for a new flyer is to be quiet and just listen.” Paul says. “Don't be a know it all and be patient. Learn how to become a handler first. All flyers want to start at the top, but in reality, 99.9% of all flyers start at the bottom,” Paul says.

Great pigeons will not fly well if you don’t know how to handle them correctly. According to Paul, new flyers must learn to become an observer of your loft and every loft you go visit. If someone has mastered that and is not successful, the flyer should observe what his immediate competition is doing and adapt. “If a competitor is on widowhood or flying the dark system and they are beating you week in and week out, then you better meet your challenge and adapt,” Paul advises.

He says if you find yourself constantly on the bottom of the sheet, try out a different health program, train harder or get an honest opinion from someone you respect. Try to be honest with yourself no matter the outcome. If you are always late, even if you have healthy, well-trained birds, then changing and adapting will do no good because the quality of the birds to do the job is missing.

“The systems are not for everyone and I do not care to be on one,” Paul says. He flew the dark system one-year and had great success with it, but decided it is not worth the trouble. The darkened birds did win as old birds He also tried the light system, but did not like the way the birds molted out as old birds. Paul has since scrapped both systems, but may reconsider them in the future. At present, he’s more interested in old bird flying then young bird flying.

Paul recently refreshed and updated his Web site (, and it contains a wealth of information that is useful to novices and old hands alike. “I have made many friends through this wonderful hobby and have enjoyed all the pigeon sport has given to me. Whenever I can, I am only too happy to talk pigeons and to share what I have learned with others,” he says.

Paul’s contact information is below:

Paul Walsh Address: P.O. Box 17 Clifford Pa 18413 Phone: 570-282-5405 E-mail:



First Overall Average Speed Old Birds
First Combine Champion Loft Old Birds
Second Combine Champion Bird Old Birds
First Overall Average Speed Young Birds
First Combine Champion Loft Young Birds
First Combine Champion Bird Young Birds

First Overall Average Speed Old Birds
First Champion Loft Old Birds

First Overall Average Speed Old Birds
First Champion Loft Old Birds
First And Second Champion Birds Old Birds

First Overall Average Speed Young Birds
First Overall Average Speed Old Birds


IFConvention Race -- 9th And 36th
EMF Auction Race -- 17th
SMCC Classic -- 36th
Gordon Richardson Classic Race -- 14th& 17th
Suffolk Nassau Auction Race -- 18th
HFC Futurity -- 4th


4th All American Loft Old Birds Lo- Middle 2000
1st All American Loft Old Birds Lo- Middle 1999
5th Grand All American 1995
4th All American Old Birds Lo-Middle 1995
7th All American Old Birds Lo-Middle 1995 4th All American Old Birds Little 1991
First 5 Star Loft Grand Champion 1991


2001 OB Champion Loft 2nd – 5 - 25 Lofts
2001 OB Champion loft 5th -- 25 - 75 Lofts
2001 OB Hall Of Fame ------- 25 To 75 Lofts 6th & 8th
2000 OB Champion Loft 1st --- 5 -- 15 Lofts
2000 OB Champion Loft 2nd -- 15 -- 49.9 Lofts
1999 OB Champion Loft 1st -- 15 -- 49.9 Lofts
1997 OB Champion Loft 1st -- 15 -- 49.9 Lofts
1996 OB Champion Loft 1st -- 50 — 100 Lofts


1995 Honorable Mention O.B. IF-94-SCR-4615
1995 Honorable Mention O.B. IF-92-SCR-1717
1995 Honorable Mention YB 767
1995 Honorable Mention YB 770
1996 O.B 2nd 50-99 Lofts 767
1996 YB 1st 5-15 Lofts 1584
1996 YB 50-99 Lofts 3rd 1584
1997 OB 50-99 Lofts 6th 648
1999 OB 1st 5-15 Lofts IF98SCR-14
1999 OB 5-15 Lofts 2nd,IF97-MID1023
1999 OB 16-49 Lofts 2nd AU98EastClassic1201
1999 OB 16-49 Lofts 3RD IF-98-SCR-12
2001 OB 25 TO 75 Lofts 4074 WAS 6th 755 8th