Banded homing pigeon appeared last week in south Wellsville

In a beautiful backyard just south of the village, an unusual visitor appeared at a bird feeder. Clearly not your standard pigeon, the bird lover who fills the feeder was surprised when the pigeon was back the next day, and the next. Noticing a band on the birds leg and unusual tameness, the bird lover contacted us to help solve the mystery.

Most likely this is a racing pigeon, a “red bar” variety, that is specifically bred for this sport. It just so happens that my dad and I raised homing pigeons for years with birds provided by the late veterinarian Dr. Mike Doty. Certain pigeons have the uncanny ability to find their home coop from many miles away.

A homing pigeon race works like this: Bird owners enter individual pigeons into a contest, where they wear a band that allows the birds to be tracked and timed. Contestants release the birds and whoever makes it back to the home coop first wins. Prizes and championships are awarded, some pigeons become “stars” of the sport, and some birds never make it back home.

The reasons a homing pigeon doesn’t return vary; predators like a peregrine falcon or a major weather event are both common reasons. Sometimes the internal “homing” mechanism goes wacky and the pigeon gets lost.

This birds home coop could be in the Wellsville area but could also be in Erie, PA or beyond.

Perhaps you know a homing pigeon aficionado? As best the bird lover who is worried about this “homer” can tell, the number on the band is: 7033.