Home Away from Homing Pigeon

We had a visitor last weekend:

It is a pigeon, as you may have guessed. If you look at its legs, you see that each has a band. So I figured it must be a homing pigeon of some sort. I also figured I could trace its owner if I could read the band. While I could get pretty close to the bird (it would not fly away, merely walk away), I could not read the whole band. (Note: it also looks like it got some sort of neck trim).

Some online searching revealed that the bird may be lost or tired, and could use some food and water. It was near 100 degrees out this particular weekend, so that may explain why it stopped. I gave it a bowl of water and some hen scratch (which includes corn, wheat, and milo). I had to do this in a way that would not attract all the chickens, who always come running when there is food involved (and also when there is not). I ended up putting the cat crate out and putting some seeds inside, because the chickens can't get in there and because the internet suggested that the pigeon might like some sort of shelter.

That evening, we did not see the pigeon, but it was there the next morning briefly before disappearing for good. We thought our pigeon experience was over. But on Sunday, another pigeon showed up.

You can see that the first bird had a pink band, while this one was blue (maybe a gender marker?), so it's not the same bird. On a couple of occasions, I had to chase the chickens away from it. One chicken in particular seemed to enjoy picking on the pigeon. This bird also stayed overnight, sleeping on my roof, right above our back door.

I was able to read the band on this one, so I looked it up on this site, which gave the the location where the band was sold. They, in turn, gave me the name, location, and phone number of the person who bought the bands. So I called him up. As I assumed, both birds belonged to the same guy.

The birds' owner lives about 20 miles away from me. He had released one of the birds Thursday and one on Saturday. Pigeons have one "home" location that they return to, so owners take them somewhere and release them, and the birds return to that home. These birds were released from locations about 2.5 hours southwest of me (not as the crow flies). But I live north of the bird's owner, so they had to have made some sort of left hook to arrive in my yard.

And how the heck did both birds land in my yard independently of each other? I don't know how to explain that. Maybe it has something to do with the unclear method pigeons use to navigate, like a special wrinkle in the earth's magnetic field that I live above. Or maybe my yard just looks like a nice place for pigeons to hang out. Either way, I am happy to have my home serve as a pigeon Motel 6.


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