There’s No Place Like Home
By Animal Care Coordinator, Jennifer Taylor
In late September a Pigeon was found during a storm at the Wequassett Resort in East Harwich. It had been hanging out on a porch near a guest’s room.
Although Rock Pigeons are not considered a native species in the USA, Wild Care will still care for them. They were originally brought here from Europe in the 1600s.
This bird was happy to be put into a box and brought to us which made sense after seeing it had a blue band on it’s left leg, and a green band on its right leg. It was a racing pigeon – and not a wild bird at all. It had gotten lost or blown off course in the storm and was hoping for a meal at the resort- perhaps the porch at Wequassett reminded it of its own home. Racing Pigeons that cannot get home quickly after being in a race do not know how to find food on their own, and often starve or become easy prey for predators.
This lucky bird was a little bit thin but in overall good health. We looked up his band number online and called the owner. We have found that Racing Pigeon owners are not always interested in getting their birds back-especially if they are ill or injured. Not this owner! When I called he was at busy at work, but he was happy to hear about his bird. When I told him the band number he knew exactly what bird it was and told me it was a female. He lived in Norton, MA, and I asked him when he could come pick up his bird.. He told me to “Just let it go and it will come home.” Uhhh…”are you sure you want me to do that?”
Well, it was his pet and he was sure, so I told him we would comply though it made me a bit nervous.
Amy Webster, one of our staff rehabbers who specializes in releases and rescues, took the project on. After fattening the bird up for four days and ensuring good health, and checking the weather forecast to make sure no storms were imminent, Amy chose a bay beach in Brewster for release. We thought the coastline might aid in its own avian GPS system. This would be a 75-mile journey to Norton. Good Luck little bird.
Three days later we got a call from the owner saying she made it home!
This was our first Racing Pigeon release (usually they are delivered or picked-up by their owners) and we were all ecstatic, and very relieved!
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Wild Care has a state-of-the-art seabird therapy pool, which allows seabirds and waterfowl to exercise on running water. This will help our bird friends recover more quickly so they can get back to their watery habitats!