PLEASANTON — It turns out Homer’s odyssey ends in … Hayward.
The homing pigeon that walked into a Pleasanton bar on Memorial Day almost made it home from a race in Nevada — but didn’t quite get there. An injury or exhaustion landed the bird at the Y’all Come Back Saloon, where he surprised patrons with his brazen entrance into the neighborhood bar.
After an unsuccessful attempt to release the pigeon — he fluttered to the ground and didn’t go anywhere — Castro Valley resident Carol Batten tracked down a Medford, Ore., man whom she thought was the pigeon’s owner. And since Homer wasn’t going anywhere on his own, bar owner Maureen “Puff” Carpenson had lined up a ride to Oregon for the wayward pigeon.
But the day before the bird, christened Homer, was to leave for Oregon in an air-conditioned automobile, Batten and Carpenson learned the bird actually had been shipped to a new owner — a Hayward resident — last year.
Reese Bishop said he was surprised to hear from his friend, a pigeon breeder in Oregon, on Thursday night, asking if he had lost one of his birds. In fact, one of his pigeons did not make it back from the Lovelock, Nev., race over Memorial weekend.
He was even more surprised to learn that his pigeon was now famous as the bird who walked into a bar.
Bishop was expected to reunite with his bird late Friday. He laughed when he heard it had been dubbed Homer; since he owns 200 pigeons, it is impossible to name them all, he said.
Bishop has been racing pigeons for five years, and he says he has lost birds in the past.
“It happens,” he said. “Two years ago, I had a bird who was found in Los Angeles. He was supposed to be heading to my house from Nevada.”
After the first story appeared in MediaNews newspapers on Thursday, Carpenson said she received several phone calls from individuals warning her not to return the bird because it is considered useless to the owner.
“That is not true,” Bishop said. “We care about our birds. We put a lot of time and effort into them. There are a lot of feelings toward them.”
Larry Cook of the California State Racing Pigeon Organization noted that racing pigeons, depending on their breeding, can be worth anywhere from $500 to $1,000.
Cook, who has been racing pigeons for 29 years, said he has had pigeons get lost, then found and subsequently shipped back to his Exeter home.
For now, Homer the pigeon will be “put out to pasture” so he can recover, Bishop said.
After that, Bishop will decide whether to breed him or hand him over to a racer just starting out in the hobby.
As for that pigeon who turned up in Los Angeles a few years ago? He’s racing again.
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