Sunday I worked all day in the yard and was hosing everything down when a beautiful banded pigeon waddled up to assess my work. He seemed quite friendly and not at all afraid. Eventually I had him eating birdseed from my hand and posing while I did an impromptu pigeon photo shoot.
The sun went down and I scattered some birdseed, soaked everything with water and went to bed.
The next morning as I pulled out of the garage I noticed the pigeon strutting around the garden. Some of the mulch was scattered, indicating he had bedded down there the night before.
He was still there when I got home from work.
At this point I was concerned about this little pigeon I had come to think of as Bucky. The bands indicated he belonged to someone who surely must be missing him. So, the next day at work I contacted a friend who works for a local aviation research facility. From her I was referred to a Falconer at the center who referred me to the State Wildlife Association who referred me to the area Game Warden who, to this day, has never called me back.
Along the way I had found out it was probably a racing pigeon, so I got online and googled the appropriate terms until I found the website for the American Racing Pigeon Union. A very friendly woman answered the phone and when I told her the numbers on Bucky’s bands she was able to determine he was from a Missouri “loft.” She gave me the number to their local chapter, but it had been disconnected. I called my new friend at the ARPU who told me she had no other number.
That’s where things got crazy.
Apparently these pigeon racing people take their sport very seriously. When I commented on how much prettier this little guy was than the New York Pigeons it was explained that the birds are carefully trained, bathed, medicated against diseases and fed special grains. I expressed concern that he may be wounded because I hadn’t seen him fly up into a tree yet. “Oh he’d better NOT fly up in a tree,” she said, as if I had suggested he fly into an open flame. “If he has been trained well he knows to stay out of the trees!”
So, anyway, I asked this pigeon lady to give me the number of a local pigeon racing group. “Why?” she asked incredulously.
“Uh…so I can call them and maybe they will come help the pigeon at my house.”
“But he’s not from here. He belongs to a group in Missouri.”
“Yes, but I can’t get a hold of that group, so maybe someone here can help.”
“Well, no one is going to come get him if he’s not their bird.”
“No one will help him?! Isn’t his owner probably looking for him?”
“Oh I’m sure the owner is looking for him, but since he is from Missouri no group here is going to take him.”
“But you don’t have good number for any of the Missouri groups.”
“No, and they really should keep their information up to date with us.”
“Well, they didn’t, and now I’ve got a pigeon in my garden that needs to get home.”
“Well, good luck with that. Let me know if there is anything I can do to help.”
You have got to be kidding me. Had this lady not been listening?
“I need to find someone to COME GET HIM!”
“Well, I guess you could take hi…..
“NO! I cannot take him anywhere. I cannot pick him up. I mean he’s nice and all, but birds kinda freak me out when they start with the wing flapping stuff. I just need someone who knows more about this than me to come and help him. I don’t care if they keep him or if they send him home. I just don’t want him to be in my garden because it is NOT SAFE for a possibly injured and definitely lost bird.
Please, just give me the number for a LOCAL RACING GROUP!”
“Like I said, they will not do anything. “
I got of the phone with Nancy-no-help and went back to Google.
I found tons of sites about racing pigeons. Most of them were in England and Scotland.
I finally found a web site for