Homing pigeons are a remarkable species with internal compasses that are able to memorize landmarks to retrace a path home. But one particular bird ended up so far off its course, it would have been a miracle for her to find her way back.
After being found frozen to a front porch, she was taken in by Calgarian Alex Gray who didn’t know what else to do and posted on social media, eventually tracking down Jeanie Palmer, a woman who raises and rescues pigeons.
“There were a lot of people who wanted the bird but couldn’t prove it was theirs, so I reached out to Jeanie and I said: ‘Alright, we don’t have traction and she doesn’t seem happy by herself, so by all means, come and get her,’” Gray said.
Once Palmer got her home she did some digging and, being a member of the Canadian Pigeon Fancier’s Association, she reached out to her fellow fanciers who helped her identify the tag.
She’s from the Netherlands and belonged to Henk Bax, a man who races pigeons.
“He said, this bird went missing from a race in Vervins, France on April 25, 2021. She was 200 kilometres from the coop and a year-and-a-half later she winds up on the sidewalk in Calgary, Alberta,” Palmer said.
The Dutch owner gave his blessing to keep the pigeon.
“How would you fly from France all the way here? How would she make that? I don’t think she could have made it that far, kudos to her if she did,” Palmer said.
“There’s a reason we named her Amelia Earhart, maybe she did fly here,” Palmer said.
“My jaw dropped,” Gray said.
Both could hardly believe it.
“This could be a book. The bird who flew across the world, or the pigeon who got lost. You could make up any adventures you wanted her to be on. The fact I have her is crazy to me, pretty lucky,” Palmer said.
She’s retiring from racing and will officially become a Canadian. It isn’t legal to ship a bird from Canada to the Netherlands.
“She’s going to join my coop and be a spoiled lazy pigeon. Hopefully she will pick one of my handsome boys and have a happy little family of her own,” Palmer said.
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