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Lost Homing Pigeon Travels 4,000 Miles From The UK To Alabama

Pigeon Closeup

A racing pigeon by the name of Bob has been the subject of wonder and awe this month after being found several thousand miles off course in the U.S. state of Alabama.

According to the Monroe County Animal Shelter in Monroeville, Alabama, the bird was discovered by an “elderly gentleman” who noticed an unusually tame pigeon that would not leave his property. The pigeon, as it turns out, was wearing the leg bands which are typically used by pigeon keepers to identify their birds.

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Pigeon from Across the Pond

This led staff at the Monroe County Animal Shelter to an incredible discovery. Likely expecting to return Bob to a local pigeon hobbyist, they were surprised to learn that Bob had actually come form much farther afield. Bob’s owner, Alan Todd, had released Bob about 400 miles from his loft in Tyneside in the UK. Bob was expected to return within about ten hours. Several weeks later it was discovered that Bob had somehow crossed the Atlantic Ocean and found himself in Mexia, Alabama.

Pigeon in Flight
Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

After an incredible journey of over 4,000 miles, Bob was found to be in shockingly good condition. He was a bit underfed, but with the care of animal shelter staff he has already greatly improved and has been reunited with Mr. Todd via video teleconference. At the time of writing, the Monroe County Animal Shelter is still trying to determine how best to return Bob to his country of origin and reunite him with his owner in person. Bob is a valued racing bird whose estimated value is over 1,000 pounds, or about 1,200 USD.

How Did Bob Get to Alabama?

So how does a single pigeon cover manage such a daunting journey unscathed? Bob’s owner has a theory on that particular point. Alan Todd claims that when the bird was found, he was covered in an oily substance. Mr. Todd suggests that the prized racing pigeon might have found his way onto a cargo ship, perhaps an oil tanker, while still near home. This would account for the unbelievable distance that Bob covered.

In reality, though, it is not impossible for a pigeon to cover massive distances. The furthest a homing pigeon has ever been recorded to have flown was almost twice the distance covered by Bob. In 1931, a homing pigeon was released in Arras, France and found its way to Saigon in Vietnam. The voyage took twenty-four days.

Since entering the animal shelter’s care, Bob’s condition has improved. For the time being, the shelter continues to care for the bird until a return journey to the UK can be arranged.

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