Our Avian Visitor

Last November, we were visited by a pigeon. It was the first time in the 8-1/2 years that we lived here that a bird landed on our balcony for a bit of respite, so it was interesting enough to snap some pictures.

Now there’s a black bird on our balcony. I think it’s another pigeon. He’s a cute little thing anyway. (I know some people think of them as “flying rats” but this ain’t New York, and I like 'em.) He’s pretty docile, and has walked right up to the screen door, in spite of three very curious predatory felines peering at him from the other side. I was even able to put the cats in the bedroom and leave the screen door open, though so far he hasn’t ventured into the apartment – he’s wary, but not flighty.

It makes me think he’s hurt, or perhaps tired, but he’s wandered around the balcony and preened his wings without any seeming difficulty. He even pecked at some of the bits of bread we threw out there for him. I notice he’s tagged, too – one on each foot.

Right now he’s still standing with his back to me, his head lolled over to one side and appearing to be taking a nap. (I didn’t think they could sleep standing up)

I think I will call him Phil.

Check with the local zoo and see if they can help you identify the banding. He sounds like he might be missing from somewhere. He’s a cutie. I hope you can find out if he’s got a home and get him safely back there.

Funny thing is, the closest zoo is the Toronto Zoo, which is a good 60km (about 37 miles) from me. Hardly much more than a jaunt for a pigeon, but still.

I did take moar pitchurz, including a closeup of its banding (the yellow tag has “WW GOLD” and “?U 2008” but I didn’t see anything on the blue band) though, just to see if I could find out more information about this specimen, but I’m not sure where to look. Parks & Rec? Some sort of wildlife census bureau?

He’s still on my balcony, by the way. I put out a dish of water in case it gets thirsty or wants to bathe.

ETA: I found the National Wildlife Research Center bird banding office where you can report finding a banded bird. Maybe that might help.

Ha! I found it. It’s a Club CRPU racing pigeon. The WW GOLD is a 2008 band (PDF). The letter I couldn’t make out before the U is a C. That would explain why it’s so docile.

Great find on that website! I’m sure they’ll be appreciative of the info, even if they don’t know where it belongs or who banded it.

You’ve got some mad google skilz there!

Clicking the link about banded pigeons from the previous site you found, it says:

I wonder where he’s racing to! Keep us posted if you find anything out.

That’s awesome.

Fortunately, the CRPU’s band list provides names and phone numbers of owners. I took another shot of the front of the band to get the other half of the registration number and matched it to who seems to own the pigeon, then contacted the owner – or his wife, rather, a nice British lady; he was at work, but she took down my information and will try and get in contact with her husband.

I did a reverse lookup on their phone number, and they seem to be from Acton, ON, which is only about 20-25 miles away.

I just called her, she told me to see if I can catch the birdie. I have a cat carrier that I can use as a makeshift cage, so I stalked the bird calmly. He didn’t fly away but he was pretty wary and backed up if I got within half a foot of him. I backed him into a corner, where I was able to catch him and put him in the cat carrier. He was spooked and flapped a bit, but I was gentle as I could be, and he calmed down once he was in the carrier. Now his owner (or his wife, rather) is on her way over here to pick him up.

So, happy ending for Phil!

YAY! Go you! And Go Phil! I’m so happy that he’s being reunited with his owners. Happy endings rock!

P.S. You should find out what his real name is. I’m so glad he chose your balcony to land on. Think of how many people would’ve just ignored him. You done good!

(dupe post)

Thank you. :slight_smile: Funny thing is that I couldn’t possibly envision that he had owners. I just assumed the tags were part of a wildlife research thing like you see on nature shows, but after googling and reading that a banded pigeon is very likely a racing pigeon and probably has an owner, I figured he’d probably like to get back home to a nice cozy bed and some soup mix. (Apparently, he loves dry soup mix. Go figure…) Plus, a black pigeon is a real rarity around here. Pigeons in general aren’t that common around here – this habitat belongs to the gulls.

So she just left with Phil (for he has no other name as yet – apparently he’s just a youngster who has yet to be trained, thus the wanderlust that led him to my balcony). She got lost on the way here (much like Phil) but she eventually found my place. She came prepared with a nice wide wooden cage with straw bedding on the bottom in the back of her hatchback car.

So I bade Phil a fond farewell and he’s now on his way back to Acton. All’s well that ends well! But if Phil gets all exploratory again, I hope he remembers where to find me. :slight_smile:

This has to be the hands-down coolest thing I have ever read.

I love the Internet. Never let it leave us. Amen.

Very cool, indeed! I said the same thing to my husband about how amazing the internet is, when I was telling him about this thread.

I have so many questions, like, how did Phil get out? Were they worried about him? Did they post fliers or did they just think he’d know enough to come home? How long was he missing? Did they offer you any kind of reward for his return? Did they offer to let you keep in touch to follow his “career” as they train him to race? How soon before he’s old enough to race? Where do they race him?

I’m so nosy! :slight_smile:

It’s definitely a different world than it was 10-15 years ago. Now we have this giant, worldwide, connected mega-brain we can tap into when we need to find stuff, even obscure stuff like where a particular racing pigeon came from based solely on its tag. Before the Internet I’d have no idea what those bands were for. Now I was not only able to find out what it was for, but the name and number of the person the bird belonged to. Not bad for a few keystrokes and a bit of reading. :slight_smile:

Apparently they have a garden where, among other things I imagine, they let their trained birds roam free. Being that this one was as yet not aware of the rules governing racing pigeons, he didn’t know he wasn’t supposed to leave.

I don’t know if they’re normally caged or if they get some “yard time” or whathaveyou.

They didn’t even know he was missing; apparently he just did his Lewis & Clarke imperssion some time today, ending up on my balcony around 5:30pm.

No, and I didn’t ask. I was just glad to see him returned home.

No, dunno, and dunno. I don’t know the first thing about pigeon racing, actually, much less that we have what is apparently a pretty big club/union chapter a hundred clicks or so west of me. I love animals, but the sports some are bred for, not so much. I’m not against them per se, I’m just more a fan of letting them be themselves, either as domesticated pets or left wild. Although I suppose pigeon racing probably places the least impositions on the contenders, since they get to do what they do best, which is fly.

Glad you were able to find out who the owner of the pigeon is! When I saw your first picture just now I figured he probably was a racing pigeon, due to the type of bands he’s wearing.

We had a similar thing happen years ago when I was a kid. I don’t know how my mom got in touch with the owner back then, it was way pre-Internet, but she did and the guy came to pick up his bird a couple hours later.

How to read a racing pigeon band

How to care for a lost bird