Mike grew up in Burien Washington. After he graduated, he entered the Navy in 1968 and finished his term in 1972. When Mike was growing up, he said that his family spent a lot of time visiting Whidbey Island, where he met his wife Merrietta. Mike and Merrietta were married while Mike was in the service in 1969. They have two children (son & daughter) and 7 grandchildren. When Mike finished his term in the service, they moved to Whidbey Island. Mike owns a contracting business and is semi-retired.

Mike said he received his first birds when he was 13 years old. I believe he said they were bridge pigeons. He kept birds until he went into the Navy. Mike got back into the birds sometime in the late 90’s. He joined the Everett club in 1999 and flew his first old bird season in 2000. Mike said at that time there were 40 lofts competing in the Evergreen Concourse and he owned the bottom of the race sheet. He was consistently 40th loft.

After the 2000 race series, Mike purchased 4 birds from Alex Cornella (New Jersey), 2 birds from Mike Ganus (Indiana) and 1 bird from Ron West (Montana). He said when he mated some of these birds together, “things started happening”. He really didn’t know what he had or how to mate the birds when he received them. So it was all trial and air.  In 2001 he said he no longer owned the bottom of the sheet and had his first club and concourse win in young birds and the race results have steadily been getting better.  He credits Terry Dry of the Everett Racing Pigeon Club for teaching him the dos and don’ts of pigeon flying. A lot of his success is because of what Terry taught him. He would also like to thank his wife Merrietta for helping him with the birds whenever his work requirements dictate.

I’m not going to list all of Mike’s wins, but since 2008 he has 45 club and 24 concourse wins in Old Birds alone. He has been High Point Loft the last 4 years and has had the High Point Bird 3 of the last 4 years in the concourse. As I put this to paper Mike has won 3 of the 4 concourse races flown this year. When Mike wins, it’s not only with one bird. The Everett club has a 15 bird shipping limit per race and it’s not uncommon to see Mike take the first 10 places on the race sheet.  

A few years after he purchased the birds I mentioned earlier, Mike realized he had a hit pair. One of the cocks he purchased from Alex Cornella (99-HPF-971, “Rambo”) off of Ganus “969” & “019” and a hen from Mike Ganus (02-GFL 624 “Sissy”) “Hollywood”/ “Kannibel” are responsible for most of his club and concourse wins. He also realized that these two birds raised winners when mated to different hens and cocks. He is still breeding out of both of them this year. The birds that are doing the best for Mike are the “Rocket”/”Sure Bet” bloodlines.

Mike’s loft is 12 ’X 50’ and is about 5 feet off the ground. He has two young bird sections, two old bird sections, two breeding sections and an office and feed room. The young bird and old bird sections are identical. They only have 8”X 8” perches in them. No nest boxes in his old bird sections. Behind his flying/breeding loft he also has a 7 ’& 28’ individual breeding loft.

Mike’s flying system is a little different than the norm. During the off season, he lets his birds out occasionally weather permitting. On January 1st he lets the birds out daily, again weather permitting (cocks & hens together). On February 1st he starts training (north), we fly south. He tries to get 10 tosses in. In March and April he gets in about 40 tosses. That’s correct, 50 training tosses before the first race. His tosses are 10, 35 & 60 miles. Most of them are at the 60 mile point. Mike said he knows the birds are ready to race when they no longer circle when released from the training tosses. Out of the baskets and a straight line for home.  Once the race season starts, the birds are no longer trained after they go to their first race. Mike races both cocks and hens. He said the hens out preform the cocks throughout the whole season. Mike keeps the cocks and hens together as long as he can during the race season. Remember he only has perches in the flying loft. After a few weeks when he notices the birds getting matey, he separates the sexes. He will put them together again on Thursday and will separate them again sometime Sunday.  They are not permitted to raise any youngsters before the beginning of the season. Out of his best performers, he may raise a couple of babies after the season.

Mike feels that the loft (airflow), health and good pigeons are some of the main factors for a successful season.  He feeds a 15 1/2 % race mixture that he adds Safflower and corn to for the longer races. He feeds once a day. His feeding and exercise times change weekly. He tries to feed and exercise the birds during the week about the same time he thinks the birds will be returning from the race on Saturday.  Medication & Vitamins? NONE. He does believe in fresh water and grit.

Mike is a great competitor and individual. He is always looking for ways to better the sport and lower shipping costs for everyone involved.  If you have any questions for Mike, he can be reached by email at mchammer@whidbey.com