Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Pigeon Finds a Home

I love a happy ending. Our wayward pigeon found a home today. I called a local pigeon racer and he came out to take the little gal home. His name is Bob Holman and he calls his pigeon loft "Holman's Homers". He picked up the pigeon and told us it was most likely a juvenile hen. He also noted that she is very strong. He put her in this transportation crate and she quickly settled down and seemed to relax.

We noticed there were two more larger crates in the back of Bob's truck. One was empty but the other had 5 more pigeons in it! He took them out and set them on the ground. He said he brought them along for a little exercise and practice. What fun! Bob's loft is only 15 minutes away (as the pigeon flies) and he planned to give these yearlings some exercise and practice. This would be the second flight for them for the day.

He pulled one out so we could get a closer look at it. Isn't it beautiful? The irridescent colors on this bird's head were so pretty in the sun. As soon as I took this picture Bob asked the bird, "Are you ready?" I swear the pigeon responded and began to squirm in his hands. He released the bird and we watched it fly above the Twelve Acres.

Then he knelt down and asked the remaining four if they were ready. They exploded into the air as soon as he opened the door to their crate. I was mesmerized! They circled the property four times then headed due south back to their loft. These birds are athletes and are very lean and strong. Their body shape reminds me of that of small raptors such as sharp-shinned hawks. I was very impressed with them. These birds fly in races that last anywhere from 200 to 500 miles! Bob said he ships his birds for the long races rather than drive them all the way there.

Bob stayed at our place for a long time after he released his trainees and talked to us about them. I learned so much! He said his fastest birds could fly about 70 mph with a good tail wind! He breeds his own racers and said he does pretty good with them. The purse for a big race can reach in the tens of thousands of dollars for the winner. He said that pigeon racing is a dying sport and it really needs some youngsters to get involved. Bob has been racing pigeons since he was 10 years old!

He also explained that the white doves that are released at weddings are not banded because usually the owner does not want them back. That means that the pigeons are left to their own devices. I will definitely not ever hire anyone to release white doves anytime soon because I don't like the thought of those birds suddenly having to fend for themselves when they've been raised and cared for up until that point.

If you ever find a pigeon with a leg band, keep it in a safe spot and call your nearest pigeon club. They can track the owner if you tell them the information on the leg band and then the owner can come pick it up. If it's a good racer the owner will definitely want it back! Sometimes a racer gets tired during a long race and just needs to rest for a day. These birds usually leave within 24 hours and go home. Inexperienced birds can get lost, which is likely what happened with our little pigeon.

I now look at these birds in a whole new light. They are certainly much more than plain ole' pigeons. I hope to see them again soon.


  1. I'm happy to learn your errant pigeon found a good home and you were very kind to ensure that she did. But I am not surprised as I know your character. I have always had a problem with people who have called pigeons rats with wings. They apparently are unaware of the invaluable service they provided during WWI and II as messengers. I didn't know that sad bit of information about the white doves. Human entertainment at the expense of an innocent animal. Excellent blog, Amy. Thanks for the info.

  2. Jane, thank you! I really enjoyed learning about these birds. It was such a pleasure to talk with Bob and to see how he handled his birds with gentle, experienced hands.

  3. Loved this story! Have you thought of compiling your "farm essays" into a series? Publishing them? with your photos, of course...
    I bet Derek got interested in the racing pigeons; I have alwsys thought they were beautiful....
    Auntie C

  4. That was so interesting, Amy- I had no idea! I've heard of "carrier pigeons" but I never knew they raced pigeons! And 70 mph- that's FAST!
    Glad your little wanderer has found a good home where she will have plenty of companionship!

  5. Wow! What an interesting post and story. The transport boxes are very interesting. I like them.

  6. That was a neat post - Glad you chose to share that with us. Did that fella win a lot of races with his birds? Might be a good way to retire, if you have some fast birds (that don't get lost, that is!)!!

  7. How interesting! We were going to have the doves at grandaughters wedding-Did not know they just let them go! I'll spread the word as it is becomming a very popular pratice here!

  8. Paula, I know! 70 mph is almost raptor speed! Impressive!

    RiverBend Farm, Bob builds the transport baskets for himself and sells them on the side. The one in the photo sells for $35.

    ClassyChassy, I was talking to Jim about that same idea at dinner tonight. I think pigeon racing would be a great hobby if we were retired. It certainly would be ideal for people who like to travel. Just drive somewhere and sight see, release your birds, and they'll greet you when you get back home!

    Pudgeduck, I would definitely check with the pigeon guy to make sure his birds are trained to come back. If they say they don't care if the birds come back, I'd shop somewhere else or release balloons instead.

  9. What a great story and a happy ending!!! I had to read it out loud to my husband! We had never heard about pigeon racing before! This truly was an interesting post!!!

    Thanks for sharing it with us!

  10. "Pigeon racer"? If you hadn't posted the photos, I might have thought that you were just pulling my leg... :)


  11. Angela, I'm glad you enjoyed it!

    Ron, Have you ever heard of Homing Barred Rocks? No? It's the latest thing...

  12. That is amazing - how fun! I love meeting people like that.

  13. Wow! I had no idea!
    Are these pigeons like the ones that eat garbage in the big cities? Or are they a different breed, or just trained?


  14. Amy, what a great ending for the pigeon. It's very interesting to learn about them. I am like some of the others, I had no idea, but reading your post really made them much more than just some "bird" we see. This worked out good for everyone it seems.

  15. you have nice and interesting articles keep posting i love birds and pigeons but some people are against them god bless you


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