The Inventory Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) in the Netherlands contains ICH of which the communities, groups or individuals involved have written a safeguarding plan. Those plans are reviewed by an independent review committee. Every three years an evaluation of the safeguarding takes place.


The cot pigeon sport is primarily found in The Hague and surrounding area. Cot pigeon players are meant to seize each other’s pigeons. The pigeons are kept in special cages, or cots, on balconies, roofs or in gardens. A few times a day a pigeon is released to lure the dove of another cot pigeon lover and thus catch it. The excitement of the luring is the core attraction of this sport, it is the sometimes called ‘air work’. The battle goes between the so-called cot steadiness and the mating drive of the pigeons. When a pigeon has been caught, it is subsequently sold in special pigeon shops or given to acquaintances. Sometimes they are used for breeding. The pigeon is not returned to the former owner. There are light cages with bars in the cot, where the female pigeons are. There are also dark cages, for the males, or cocks. Through an ingenious system with a thread and a piece of lead the sliders of the cots can be opened and shut. Cot pigeons are generally crossbreds of various types of fancy pigeons with a typical large crop.



Cot pigeon lovers are to be found mainly in The Hague and surrounding area. Cot pigeon lovers are generally men and the average age is high, although they try to interest more ‘youngsters under forty’ for their hobby. The Tilduivenbond Ons Belang (Cot Pigeon League Ons Belang) has 350 members. The Cot Pigeon League plays a significant role in contacts, organises club evenings, mediates in disputes with housing associations or other parties. Furthermore it helps with authorisation applications. The League also pays home visits for the inspection of pigeon cots and to see if the animals are well taken care of.



For ages the aristocracy hunted in the dunes around The Hague. They probably hunted pigeons as well, particularly with falcons. It was not until the Napoleonic period that civilians were allowed to keep pigeons. From that moment on the hobby of the cot pigeons arose, especially in The Hague. It is not clear why the cot pigeon sport became so popular there, above all. Fact is that the Cot Pigeon League Ons Belang was already established in 1920 and approved by Royal Decree in 1926. In the thirties and forties of the twentieth century there were around two thousand cot pigeon lovers. In World War II keeping pigeons was prohibited, but many lovers hid their pigeons on balconies, in attics and sheds. After the war the remaining pigeons were big money. By breeding the number rapidly increased, making the prices fall again. Between 1950 and 1970 the cot pigeon sport reached its peak, the number of dot pigeon lovers lay around an estimated five thousand. This number decreased in the following years. The regulations around pigeon cots were getting stricter and stricter. In the eighties and nineties of the last century the number of cot pigeon lovers fell back drastically, to the lowest point in 2008, when Ons Belang had 139 members. Meanwhile this number has slightly increased again.



Haagse Tilduivenbond Ons Belang
Olieslagerslaan 74
2497 CV
Den Haag