Given recent concerns in China about social unrest or even foreign espionage, it was not surprising that a civic-minded citizen in Nanjing, Jiangsu province called police on Sunday after he found a carrier pigeon at his home with suspicious note tied to its leg, a news website reports.

Carrier pigeons have long been used for communication – legal and clandestine – in China. In the late 1990s, for example, dissidents were known to release pigeons carrying slogans written on ribbons tied to the birds’ feet.

The website of reported that worried policeman took the bird back to the station where they gingerly opened the note to reveal its short but direct message: “Lili, I love you!!! With love from Xiaojun.”

The bird was found to be a champion racing pigeon from Henan province and had an authorised ID band, according to the report.

The Carrier Pigeon Association of Nanjing said the bird might be trapped in recent rainstorms and suggested that the police feed the bird for a few days. After rest, the carrier pigeon would fly back to its host.

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