Tuesday, October 7, 2008

A Ways from Home

I got a call from a neighbor yesterday. "I have a critter issue, can you help me out?" When I think critter, I think of something with teeth.  Thankfully, this critter didn't have teeth.  "It's a pigeon.  It has leg bands."  
Deja Vu'
A racing pigeon is the reason I ultimately got chickens.  More on that later.  
This fellow was tuckered out.  He'd lost his flock and was trying to get water out of my neighbor's pool.  We captured him with little effort and I set out to find out where he belonged.  The leg bands are like tiny dog tags.  You just need to know how to read them.
If you click on the picture below, I'll walk you through it.  The 2008 at the top left, is the year the pigeon was born.  The 2752 is the bird's ID number--no other bird has this number.  What you can't see is a large AU and the words Quest Syndicate.  The AU stands for American Racing Pigeon Union.  Quest Syndicate is the name of the team the bird races for.  It implies that several people are involved.  Hopefully not mobsters, because I was about to find out their phone number and let them know I have their bird. :)  The light blue band on the left foot means the bird is a male.  I don't know what the larger blue band means.  
How did I locate his owner?  I Googled "lost pigeon" and hit a familiar website.  It walks you through how to locate the owner based on the information on the pink band. It's a very simple thing to do.  
Luckily we have unlimited long distance, because it took several calls.  I knew that racing always takes place on Sundays.  This bird had only been out a day. According to mapquest, this bird was 220 miles from home.  He belonged to a Mr. King in Grand Prairie, Texas.  I called him, he was out of the office.  Luckily, the woman on the phone felt safe in giving me his cell number.  I called his cell and reached him at lunch.  Turns out the bird didn't come out of Grand Prairie, but somewhere here in Austin.  The "syndicate" part of the business means many birds are owned by many people.  He didn't have the owner's phone number," but maybe you could Google it."  Heavens, what on earth did we ever do before Google??!!  
I called Mr. Barker of Barker Roofing.  He was out of the office (surprise!).  I was given his cell number.  When I finally reached him, he asked if I couldn't just give the bird some rest and water and then let it go.  It would come home on its own.
Good thing I love animals.  Good thing the silly pigeons are fitted (by God) with some sort of internal GPS.  They always find their way home.  He was given rest and some homemade electrolyte solution and sent on his way.
But who are these beauties?  They are Lucy and Ricky.  They are the beginning of getting chickens.  Lee and I tossed around me starting my own business for about a year.  It needed to be something I loved doing if I was going to do it.  The idea flew into one of our windows-literally.  In August of 2004, a pigeon just like the one in the first picture, slammed into one of our big windows.  I found his owner and became fascinated by the idea that they always know where home is.  We talked about it and he told me that the doves you always see at weddings are really just white pigeons.  Ah Ha!!  I could raise pigeons for people's special occasions! Long story, short.  It didn't play out.  I found that special occasions happen only on weekends (duh!).  I would never have any family time.  I would be spending my weekends with brides who wanted a perfect ending to a perfect day.  The birds can only fly under certain conditions, and that meant I might have to tell the bride, "No" at the very last minute.   Wouldn't be pretty.  

Pigeons are fabulous parents.  Both parents take turns on the eggs.  One feeds the other while they sit.  They both are able to produce "crop milk" to feed their young. The babies are seriously ugly, but it's hard not to love the devotion between parents and young.  A bit of trivia for the next time you're playing Trivial Pursuit---the babies are called Squeakers.  I'm serious!  Google it if you don't believe me. 

The pigeons were given away.  I had a coop, why not use it?  Chicks were ordered in October.  And that's how pigeons led to chickens.  Can't take a chicken to a wedding, so my weekends belong to soccer again.


  1. Oooh! What an amazing story and with a special twist, too. Lucy and Ricky were so beautiful, but I agree....that squeaker is ugly! hah! Good thing they grow up, eh?

    Did you get Lucy and Ricky to mate a few times to market the babies before you 'chose a different path'?

    You always amaze me with how much knowledge you either know or are able to find out. This reminds me of homeschooling.
    Sometimes people have asked me how I can teach so many subjects to my children because it's impossible to know everything about everything.

    I tell them that I agree. I don't have to know everything....I just need to know where to find it.

    CeeCee, you'd make a brilliant homeschool mom. :)


  2. I read about a lost pigeon yesterday. It's missing tail feathers so it can't balance itself. The owner was contacted and said he'd cull the bird! I'm thinking the bird didn't get lost, it got attacked, but he said he had no use for a lost bird. The finder will be keeping it as a pet.

    How cool that you found him and helped him on his way!

  3. That was a great post. I had no idea about any of that stuff. Its pretty amazing to me that they "just" know how to make it back home.

  4. What a great story, Inspector Cluso
    You definitely know about pigeons, are you a homeschool mum too?
    Its amazing how you can learn something new everyday on this box!:)


  5. Lisa, our local schools are so amazing that I wouldn't dream of homeschooling. Honestly, my kids and I are oil and water when I'm even trying to help them with homework. Plus, I'm very strong in most subjects, but math eludes me completely.

    Robin, unfortunately, the pigeon racing folks can be more that way than dog racing or horse racing. If a bird doesn't make it home, regardless of the cause, they don't want it. I'm glad the finder of the injured pigeon could keep it as a pet. They're very sweet birds.

    FM, the homing thing is amazing and they're really smart birds.

    Sue, thanks for the kind words. No, I'm not a homeschooler.

  6. Hey CeeCee,
    You're very lucky that your schools are so good. Besides the lack of educational merit in New Mexico schools, the culture is often violent with regular lock-downs, girls trying to kill each other with baseball bats, and teachers who pack weapons to protect themselves from angry, unhappy kids.

    I'm terrible in math, too. That's why we use a tutor and excellent curriculum. :)

    You don't have to know everything. You just have to know where to find the answers.
    My kids attend a Chemistry class and a Civics class twice a week, too.

    Thankfully, with homeschooling, there are no limitations and a world of options :)


  7. It was so nice of you to take the time to rescue the little guy. My son used to raise homing pigeons when he was in junior high. He thought it was a great idea until one of his didn't make it home......then we just had lots of pet pigeons LOL!The bigger blue band is probably the counter mark, it goes into a special clock to time the birds as they return to the loft.

  8. CeeCee,

    You are so interesting. You know about so many things I wouldn't have even a clue. Very pretty birds and an interesting lesson today.