I had the pleasure of meeting John Gallagher on a recent visit to Spring Hill, Florida. I had an opportunity to visit his private lofts and of course, the Flamingo International Challenge (www.flamingoic.com) race loft in Brooksville.
The meeting with John was arranged by his friend, the well-known auctioneer, Charlie Barbiere one of John’s best friends. It was John and Charlie who envisioned a top one loft race and Charlie came up with the Flamingo name. Due to family illness, Charlie had to return to New Jersey and John followed the dream and has built this race into the success it is now.
I’d never met John before but you could tell the moment I got into his rig that he was all business and only had pigeons on his mind. We met at the GHC club house and he we drove the short distance out to the Flamingo loft. WOW! The loft is more impressive than one can imaging. It sits commandingly on 5-acres wide open acres with plenty of room for the birds and handlers to come watch their birds on race days.
The loft is 110 feet long and 12 feet wide with 11 individual sections each having a wire drop down floor. Each section opens into a 4 foot hallway and each has a sliding door into the adjoining section for easy maintenance and management. An aspect that was revolutionary when the Flamingo started was to have a standalone quarantine loft. Today, they their quarantine loft is 20 x 20 and has all the modern amenities you would want in such a facility.
Let me tell you, the entire loft was spotless, and clean. John said that after each season, the Flamingo International Challenge race has been operating for sixteen consecutive years, the entire loft, inside and out is power washed and given a fresh coat of white paint. Not only is it good for ascetics but it also is good for the next years birds to enter a clean environment in order to give the new batch of birds the best possible start they can get.
It was evident to me walking through the race loft that every aspect of husbandry was incorporated into the loft. From the drop down wire floors, proper ventilation, a quarantine area, feed area, access to clean water, and plenty of elbowroom for the birds and handlers.
John Gallagher and Jim Milligan run the race and have built up quite a reputation as putting on one of the best one loft races in the country. This is evident in the number of out of area birds the Flamingo attracts from every corner of North America.
The Flamingo is a straightforward race. They fly a three race series starting with a 150 then a 250 and then the final finally from 350 miles. There is an average speed component to the Flamingo at no additional cost to the breeder. To qualify for average speed, a breeder’s bird must clock in all three races. About as simply and straightforward as it can be.
John was kind enough to show me around and also took me into the Flamingo’s onsite office. Make sure John or Jim put away the dogs, they will eat you! The office is where Jim does all the website updates and is equipped like a modern emergency room, just in case a bird needs medical care.
I really got the impression that the Flamingo International Challenge race has been built with the passion only a true pigeon man has; a will to succeed and a desire to do what’s right for the birds and breeder’s.
In this day and age when one loft races are here today and go tomorrow, the Flamingo International Challenge has proven it is the race every fancier desires to win!