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The Beauty of Cuban Pigeon Racing

Carlos Jaramillo

Carlos Jaramillo's pictures of birds on the wing.

I met Erislandy while I was exploring Old Havana. He is a pigeon racer and I am a photographer so naturally, I asked if I could shoot him and his birds. Pigeon racing is a very popular sport in Cuba, and every neighborhood of every city has its own notorious racers and breeders. I spent a lot of time on Erislandy's rooftop with him and his cousin Yohany, who also races pigeons, and listened to them talk.

In the sport, tournaments are divided according to different criteria, such as pigeon breed. Messengers take the birds by crate to a starting point, at least 100 kilometers from the dovecote. At the dovecote, a judge has a stopwatch and measures the arrival times for the fastest three pigeons. Racers like Erislandy work to breed the best pigeons, taking genes from different communities and spending months to select suitors for their female birds. One of Erislandy's pigeons is the third-fastest in Cuba.

Erislandy, and his passion for his birds became a fascination of mine while visiting Cuba. You can see why in these photos photos below.

Carlos Jaramillo is a photographer based in NYC. You can follow his work here.