The Riley family of Northford is going to miss the temporary houseguest that showed up on their back porch last week. Eleanor Riley contacted Patch when a , hoping for help in finding the bird's owner.
Patch readers came through. I received a number of emails (I'll share a couple great pigeon stories below) and there were lots of comments and suggestions to Riley as she wondered where Pete came from.
located Pete’s owner, Manny Torres, through the American Racing Pigeon Union, putting Riley in touch with Torres. Torres lives in Dartmouth, Mass., which is about 130 miles away from Northford.
Riley left a message for Torres on Tuesday afternoon and when she woke up yesterday, Pete was gone.
"It seems like Petey must know he called," said Riley. "We haven't seen him since around 1 p.m. yesterday [Tuesday]. Hopefully he's on his way home and Manny will let us know!"
In a phone interview with Patch, Torres shared how he developed his racing pigeon hobby. Torres grew up with animals, on the Azores, a collection of islands between Portugal and Africa.
“It’s a beautiful country where I come from,” said Torres. “I was from a farming area where we had all sorts of animals.”
After he immigrated to America, Torres met people who raced pigeons and immediately got involved. Now he has about 100 pigeons that he raises, trains and races.
“It’s a crazy hobby, but I’d rather be doing this than chasing a golf ball around,” he said.
Torres explained the technical details of raising pigeons, including properly maintaining lofts for the birds, a diet complete with vitamins, plenty of exercise and lots of training.
“They’re raised here and then liberated as babies and they start flocking together,” said Torres. “They’re bred with this homing instinct, some more than others.”
Torres was happy to hear his bird, which has been gone for about a week, has been in good hands, noting that he must be tired. He also said the birds are not named, or ‘baptised,’ until they have won a race, laughing when told his pigeon now has a name: Pete.
Susan Neveu's Pigeon Story
I bought a home in Hamden 2 years ago – on Larkspur Lane. My sister-in-law mailed me an old Nancy Drew book called “The Password to Larkspur Lane” since she thought it was funny that she and I were big Nancy Drew fans as kids and now I’m living on Larkspur Lane. Anyway, I read the book again and it was the typical corny Nancy Drew mystery. The book starts out with Nancy finding an injured bird in her yard and exclaiming “It’s a homing pigeon! I must dial up the International Federation of Homing Pigeon Fanciers right away!” and it goes from there.
Shortly after I read the book my daughter comes in and tells me there is an injured bird by the curb in front of our house. I grab a towel and figure I’ll pick it up and put it in our backyard under some shrubs so it will have some protection from neighborhood cats. As I pick it up we notice plastic bands on the legs. I started laughing and told my daughter about the book and I said “we must Google up the International Federation of Homing Pigeon Fanciers right away!” Once we did, we couldn’t believe we actually found a website for lost homing pigeons.
We got in contact with the owner – the bird was from Eastern Long Island and left the week before from somewhere in PA but didn’t make it home. Sometimes they get lost and land exhausted or get injured. We agreed to let the bird rest in our basement for a few days and the plan was to release it in our yard and it should fly away. We set the bird up in a laundry basket home with a screen on top and fed it. It was apparent after a day or so that the bird had an injured wing. The owner said she could send us a special Fed-Ex box for shipping birds. I felt bad putting this sweet injured bird through a bumpy Fed-Ex delivery so I drove it home to Long Island!
My family loves to tease me about driving for hours just to help a homing pigeon get home.
Gayle Leavitt's Pigeon Story
When my daughter was in middle school, the class took a trip to Washington, D.C. and the owner of the homing pigeons had a daughter going on the trip also. She brought the pigeons in a cage to Washington and let them free when they got off the bus.
At the time I lived on the same Street (Whippoorwill Lane, Seymour). The pigeons beat the class and the bus back home. I never forgot it and thought it was so amazing!! The all flew in perfect form ... just beautiful to see and amazing!!! Seeing this photo brought it all back!!!!