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.