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home : current news : current news August 18, 2017

8/8/2017 11:37:00 AM
A mystery pigeon in Sisters
Unknown homing pigeon  or whatever  that just wandered into Sisters Country, wearing a band that no one knows anything about. photo by Jim Anderson
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Unknown homing pigeon or whatever that just wandered into Sisters Country, wearing a band that no one knows anything about. photo by Jim Anderson

By Jim Anderson

One day last week, Ann Richardson's husband, Clyde, was just coming into the house out on Whychus Creek when a large flock of rock doves went flashing by his place. When he looked again, there was a strange pigeon perched over a doorway to his house. When he went in for a closer look, the bird didn't fly off, but allowed him to get close enough that he could see a black band with the number 15 on one leg.

What do you do when a pigeon, looking like a domesticated rock dove, or "Homer" drops in on you? That's what Ann and Clyde are wondering.

There's really nothing special about the pigeon; it has that same old pigeon appearance, with a bit more dappled gray head feathers than some, a little less black here and there, a dark band on the tail, a little more gray here and there. And to let us know it's "domestic," and not wild, it has a small black band with that white number 15 attached to one leg.

It doesn't, however have the familiar black banding on the sides and wings of a racing pigeon - though even some of those possess different plumages.

OK, they reasoned, a banded bird means someone owns it. The American Racing Pigeon Union, however, does not use a solid black band, their bands are burnished metal and have a prefix "AU" on them.

The highest authority governing the use of a band on birds is the USGS Banding Lab in Patuxent, Maryland. When contacted, they said the solid black band is unknown to them, and as far as they're concerned, is being used inappropriately even on a domestic bird.

So, where did it come from? Who owns the bird? What was it doing running around with a flock of wild rock doves? Or was it? Did it just join them for that swift dash in Whychus Canyon and then suddenly recognize something familiar about Ann and Clyde's house and think of it as home?

It must like something about the layout, as it has adopted Ann and Clyde's place, and they in return have adopted the pigeon by providing a safe place for it to shelter and keeping it in food and fresh water. But they worry that someone may be missing it.

This is not an unfamiliar scenario. Throughout the year several domestic pigeons, lost or otherwise confused, have descend on the populace of Sisters Country. The ones wearing a regulation band are usually returned to their owners and all ends well.

It's not uncommon to see a small truck-load of pigeons in cages going through Sisters. They are racing homers heading off into the unknown, where they're released.

The racing association tells members, "Remember, these birds are very different, in nearly every way, from anything you have ever thought of when you thought, 'pigeon.' The registered Homing Pigeon - the athlete - will be a source of great enjoyment..."

They may get lost on occasion.

The best place to begin a search for the owner or role of a banded pigeon that drops in on you is to Google "lost pigeon," which will get you to the American Racing Pigeon Union. Nine times out of 10 that will provide you with the name and contact if the pigeon is wearing the proper band.

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