Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Walter Pigeon makes a wrong turn over Arizona

Alan: Mom, there's a pigeon in our yard.
Me: That can't be a pigeon. What would a pigeon be doing way out here?
Alan: Beats the hell out of me.

We first noticed the pigeon Sunday morning. Didn't give it too much thought at the time. He walked around the corral 
for awhile, flew off, and that was that. But then he showed up again a few hours later...and a few hours after that. 
When he showed up again Monday morning, I deemed his appearance blog-worthy and started taking pictures.

I was surprised by how close I could get to him. Then one time I got too close...

...and he took off. I figured I'd never see him again and so much for that blog post.

I downloaded the pictures anyway and gasped when I realized what I had been missing because
I can't wear my glasses when I'm taking pictures. Scroll up two photos. Do you see it?

Now do you see it? My pigeon was wearing an ID bracelet! I rushed back outside to see if I could find him. And there he was in the barn.
Maybe I could get some close-ups of the leg band... maybe I could find out who he belonged to...

...maybe I would fall in love with a pigeon. Isn't he gorgeous? 
Who knew pigeons had perfectly shaped hearts above their beaks?

Already Lucy is jealous.

So umpteen photos later, taken at every possible angle, I was able to piece together all the writing on Walter's leg band.
It was a 13-digit code that included the letters "AU."
A little sleuthing on Google, one e-mail and a phone call later, I was talking to Walter's owner.  

Walter's owner races pigeons. He released Walter in Globe, Arizona (Point A below) on Saturday.
Walter was supposed to fly 75 miles home to Safford, Arizona (Point B below).
Walter made a wrong turn.

How or why a navigationally challenged racing pigeon ended up at the 7MSN will remain a mystery.

Walter's owner is baffled by his pigeon's behavior. Apparently it's been a strange year for pigeons. 
This is the first time he's had one fly so far off course. He thinks his pigeon might fly home to Arizona once it eats and rests for awhile.

He also told me that Walter is a hen. I've since named her Amelia.

Amelia is now roosting above the feed room in the barn. I've told her owner that I would call him 
if she leaves so he can be on the lookout for her, but I'm hoping she'll decide to stay. 

She's got food, water, lots of company, and 15 minutes of fame on a blog. What more could a pigeon want?


  1. That is way cool that you were able to track down her owner. When I was a kid in PA, raising pigeons was the thing to do if you were a young boy.

  2. How cool is that! Amelia surely feels right at home on 7MSN. It's always nice to have visitors who are low maintenance too ; )

    A few years ago we had a Red-tailed hawk hanging around all the time. After several photographs I realized his leg was banded. The second year I was able to take enough close-up photos of the band to trace where he came from. He'd been found on a golf course with buck shot in him. After rehab he was released and seemed to like hanging around our area. The third year he didn't come back which was a disappointment. My hope is that he is doing well and thriving.

  3. Hello Amelia (waving from CanadaEH)
    You just never know whom or what is going to show up at the 7MSN. I will assume that your other visitor, the one with the sharp pointy things growing out of its body has moved on :D

  4. Won't Amelia need other pigeons to hang around with?
    Or will the fowl girls be company for her?

  5. Amelia is beautiful. My husband brought a baby pigeon home once. He found him on the side of the road. We called him "Big Bird". He lived at our house for over a year. We were ready to move to the country and planned on taking him with us. He would come when called and land on our arm. Unfortunately, moving day came and he was no where to be found. We are hoping he found a mate and decided it was time to start his own family. He had no problem hanging out with Morning Doves or Mallards. I'm hoping Amelia stays around for awhile and we see how she interacts with the rest of the animals. Have a great day!

  6. Maybe she is waiting for Walter to show up. They arranged a rendez-vous, and he appears to be late.

  7. That is very cool! And getting her ID? Well, just quite a story. I like it. I hope she stays, but she might get lonely for another pigeon. Oh Dear, not a pigeon palace next to the chicken palace??

  8. Who knew? Guess it runs in the family. You're now an official pigeon sleuth. Way cool you were able to track down Amelia's owner. I'm also hoping she joins the herd/flock at 7MSN for more entertainment.

  9. Welcome to the 7msn ranch family Amelia.

  10. I do love her, and her heart. That's too far to fly so maybe you'd best get her a buddy and let them hang at 7MSN together.

  11. An AWOL pigeon- there's always something at the 7MSN!

  12. That is the coolest thing! I hope Amelia rests with you for a while. She may decide to stay sense 7MSN it such a great place to be. That flying from A to B is for the birds! LOL Hang out with the girls at the Palace. Easy livin'.

  13. Awww...she's pretty! We have a hawk in our neighborhood and every once in a while, I find pigeon or dove feathers...sigh...

  14. Amelia for Amelia Earhart? LOL!

    (Sorry if this came through twice. Blogger gave me an error because I did not want to start a blog or enter my phone number. grrr)


  15. Wow what a story. Without the internet we would never have known the end.

    Not only did Walter loose his direction but a sex change along the way.
    I attached a note to a cat's collar once who was a winter visitor because I wanted to keep him. Alas his owner replied with a note and after that no more cat visits.
    Best always, Sandra

  16. Amelia is a little off course, like her namesake. Who knows why they decide to fly in any direction. My grandfather used to have racing pigeons and they would spook and not land if anything was remotely different in their yard.

    We once had a racing pigeon come to live in our barn and he wouldn't leave. He also went out and found a wild pigeon and brought her home. They lived in the rafters, built a cozy nest and had babies. So the point of this long comment is that there is a good chance she will stay. After all would you fly all the way back to Arizona if you had the best place in the world to retire to?

  17. Wow! How neat! What a cool story. She is a very pretty pigeon with all those colors. Her GPS must be off a little. :) I hope she stays too.

  18. I do believe it's Amelia "Nose Heart".

  19. What a cool story!! I hope she stays too ;)

  20. Just when you think you've heard it all...

  21. I think Amelia heard the livin's is good at 7MSN and flew there on purpose. Maybe she'll make it her new home. And then you can find a genuine Walter for Amelia. And we'll be looking for another photo in your blog header. :-) Amelia is beautiful. Very interesting that you were able to find her owner.

  22. Ozzy had a pet pigeon at the track. He used to save a mouthful of grain for him every morning.

    At SRF they were quite the pests, but our resident hawks kept it mostly under control.

    I was able to catch one, read his ID tag, and track down his owner. He didn't want him back (probably because he sucked at the homing aspect of being a pigeon, haha).

  23. Totally cool story and great comments! Hope she stays and Walter finds her...if not maybe another friend. C in WI that is tooo funny!

  24. How cool that you had the curiosity - and the tools - to find Amelia's owner!

  25. It seems we had some pigeons for awhile when I was young. I had completely forgot about them until I saw your beautiful photographs. I will have to ask my mother if she remembers them.

  26. Such a fascinating story. I love that you were able to track down her owner. Love seeing your blog right now when it is so dreary, wet and windy in NW Oregon.

  27. Obviously Amelia read the chicken coop review on Yelp. It was worth the trip. Hope she gets home, I'm sure she's got friends pining for her, pretty thing that she is.

  28. Looks like Amelia was on course for a good life at MSN Ranch. Lord knows I would fly there if I could.

  29. Amelia is beautiful and looks so sweet. What an interesting story! And what a looooong flight she took. I'll be looking forward to more pigeon tales.

  30. That is so bizarre. WAY off course! Kudos to you for tracking down the owner. You're something else, Carson!

  31. I ♥ Amelia! I do hope she stays! Eugenia totally needs a free-spirited buddy, don't you think?
    LOVE the map you did showing Amelia's flight path. What an amazing bird.

  32. Excellent sleuthing!!

    Clearly, Amelia needed a vacation, hence the mid-air change of plans.