I love it when a story has a happy ending,
This story began back on October 29th, when local Saint John photographer Silas Cheeseman saw a rather remarkable sight. A pure white dove pecking the ground in a parking lot near his home. He was able to capture a couple of images of the bird. We were put into contact by a mutual friend who knew that I kept birds like this and thought it might've been one of mine that had failed to return home. As soon as I saw the photo though, I knew it wasn't one of mine as none of my birds are banded with blue bands. I figured one of two things would happen to this bird.
- Best-case scenario... it would find a food source, fuel-up and head back to wherever it was that it had come from (after all... that's what Homing Pigeons do, right!?).
- Worst-case scenario... it would fail to find shelter and a reliable food source (homing pigeons are not used to having to forage for food), weaken and fall prey to a predatory bird such as a hawk or a falcon (we have both in Greater Saint John) or fall victim to the winter weather.
Had Silas seen him on a fairly regular basis, I could've gone over and tried to rescue it, but he never saw it after that. Thus ends chapter 1.
Chapter 2 began on December 21st (nearly two months later) when I got a call from Annetta, a resident of the West Side, who had found a slightly wounded, pure-white homing pigeon while walking her dog. She was able to pick up the bird but, having little experience with birds, entrusted it to the care of her neighbour, Bud, who'd had several birds over the years and indeed still had some. Together they dubbed the bird Windsor after the street on which they'd found it. Again, we were put in contact by a mutual friend who knew that I raised whites.
Bud knew that he wouldn't really be able to keep the bird long-term, because it required a larger cage than he had and different care; Windsor was not your average house-bird! He did, however want to keep him for a bit so that his daughter, who was coming home for the holidays, could see this special find (after all, it's not every day that one finds, and gets to care for, a pure white dove... now THAT's a special little gift from heaven!). It was decided that they'd get back in touch with me after Christmas and would bring the bird over to join my flock. Today was that day.
Having been able to see the entirety of his band (IF 2000 FOYS 14442), here's what I now know about Windsor.
- he is registered with the International Federation of American Homing Pigeon Fanciers
(a pigeon fancier's club founded in 1880, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.)
- he was born in 2000... making him 11 years young already
- he was bred & banded by FOYS Pet Supplies (America's oldest bird supply company, founded in 1887), in Beaver Falls Pennsylvania. Not only do they sell pet supplies, but they also raise and sell several breeds of pigeons, including pure white homing pigeons.
- His unique identifier number, among all of FOYS birds born in 2000, is 14442.
What I suspect is that this bird was sold to a customer, in one of the New England States, who released it either in the context of a race, or a white dove release ceremony of some kind. From there it likely got blown off course due to a severe weather system (heaven knows we get a few of THOSE coming up the coast!). For now, though, Windsor has a new home... hence the title of this post: the NEW House of Windsor.
All in all, it's amazing that this bird, accustomed to 'easy-living' for some 11-years, survived at least 2 months in the wild without getting taken down by a predator (white birds tend not to 'blend in' very well, making them a visible target). I'd say that like England's royal House of Windsor, this little bird must come from pretty good stock!
I've contacted FOYS to see if they can tell me anything about who that bird belonged to originally. Among pigeon fanciers it's common practice to see if a lost bird can be returned to its owner (I've had it happen to me... read about the incredible flight of 'Voyager Gerhardt'). What complicates things in this case is a teeny little thing known as 'The American-Canadian Border'. It's possible that the owner would not want to drive the distance to retrieve this bird. Even if they did, it would likely involve a certain hassle to get the bird through Customs. None-the-less, we'll make contact and try our best... that's what pigeon-guys do!
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