Wildlife rescue teams get thousands of calls to rescue pigeons. And many of these pigeons are racing pigeons that have been lost or injured. However, finding a racing pigeon on your property is unusual but not impossible.
So, what to do if you find a racing pigeon? The first step is to identify if it’s a racing pigeon. If so, you will find numbered tags or bands on the pigeon’s leg and should contact the owner. Or, you can report stray pigeons to different organizations. In the meantime, you should provide food and water for the pigeon.
Accordingly, you should also arrange the necessary treatment if it’s injured. This article will give you a clear idea of the steps you need to take after finding a lost or injured racing pigeon.
Identifying the Pigeon: How to Determine If It’s a Racing Pigeon?
Racing pigeons sometimes stop in the middle of their way to take some rest. They can also be injured and fail to go back home. If you find a pigeon on your property, you first need to determine whether it is a racing pigeon. Several ways to detect a racing pigeon, including
Identification Tags or Bands
A racing pigeon will have identification tags or bands on its legs, such as
- A ring tag with the identification number and contact details of the owner
- Or, a band wrapped around the legs of the pigeon
If you see such tags or bands, it is definitely a racing pigeon.
The physical appearance of a racing pigeon might be difficult to distinguish from a regular pigeon. But sometimes,
- The colors of racing pigeons can be more vibrant
- And they usually have bigger breast muscles with wider shoulders
- The wattle on their beaks is also larger than regular pigeons
If the pigeon you have found doesn’t have these physical attributes or identification tags, it might be a wild or feral pigeon. But if it is a racing pigeon, you need to contact its owner and help them get the pigeon back.
Contacting the Owner: How to Find the Owner of a Racing Pigeon?
Once you are sure about the breed, you should try contacting the owner. And to do that, follow the steps below.
Step 1: Catching the Pigeon
Catching a racing pigeon might not be that difficult because they are familiar with being handled. Carefully throw a large towel over the pigeon and pick it up gently. If the bird is injured, it might be easier to capture.
Step 2: Checking the Contact Details
Check the ring tag to find the contact details of the owner. If you don’t find it there, gently lift one wing and check for ink stamps. Check the other wing in a similar fashion. It should help you in finding the owner with the contact details stamped on the wings.
Contact the owner and tell them about the condition of the stray pigeon in detail. Make a schedule to return the pigeon to its owner.
Step 3: Reporting to the Racing Organization
But if you are unable to find the owner, you may need to report to the organization marked on the ring tag. We will discuss more on that in a bit.
Proper Care and Treatment for Injured Racing Pigeons
If there is no sign of injury in a racing pigeon, it is enough to provide the pigeon with some food and water. But you need to be careful about what you feed the pigeon. That includes,
Giving Proper Food and Water
You might have seen pigeons eating pieces of bread. But it is never a good option for racing pigeons. So, you shouldn’t give bread to a racing pigeon.
- Grains and seeds are healthier options for racing pigeons. If you have grains or seeds, put them in a small bowl and place the bowl in front of the pigeon.
- Besides, you can feed them store-bought pigeon food. Uncooked rice, barley, or buckwheat can also be given to racing pigeons.
- You must also provide the bird with clean water. Take a small container and pour water at least 1-2 inches deep. It will help the birds drink water easily. If the pigeon isn’t able to eat or drink itself, you should try feeding it slowly. And use a dropper to put water into its mouth.
If the pigeon you find has any sign of injury, you must take it to an experienced vet. The care and treatment should be done as soon as you find the pigeon.
Provide the bird with the medication as the vet suggests. In the meantime, you should search for the racing organization the pigeon is related to and report the stray pigeon.
Helping Lost Racing Pigeons Find Their Way Back Home
Once the bird has enough food and water to recover its strength, it should fly on its way home. But if the bird doesn’t, you should take the necessary steps for helping lost racing pigeons find their homes.
Step 1: Reporting Stray Pigeons to Unions
Racing pigeons bear the identification of different racing clubs or unions. All the details of the union or club are mentioned on the ring tag. If you aren’t a pigeon fancier, you might find it hard to identify the club or organization. So, here are some tips for reading the tag.
- There will be a combination of letters and numbers on the tag. The format of these letters and numbers varies depending on the organization.
- For example, you may see something like AU 19 ABC 1111.
- The first two letters denote the organization the bird is registered to. In this case, it will be the American Racing Pigeon Union (AU). If you see IF, it means International Federation of American Homing Pigeon Fanciers. And NPA means National Pigeon Association.
- The next two numbers represent the hatching and registration year of the pigeon. In this example, the bird was hatched and registered in 2019.
- The next collection of letters is the club code, which is ABC in the above example. All clubs have different registration codes.
- And the final series of numbers is the unique identity number of that pigeon. Each bird registered under the club will have a different number.
Step 2: Contacting the Owner Directly
If you find contact details on the wings, you can directly call or write to the owner. The contact number can also be found on a separate ring tag on the leg.
Resources for Finding the Owner of a Lost Racing Pigeon
If you can’t find the contact details of the owners and want to report stray pigeons to the organization, here are some useful resources. You should first check the band code and contact that respective organization to report a lost or injured pigeon, such as
- Contact American Racing Pigeon Union, Inc for band code starting with AU
- For band code starting with CU, contact Canadian Racing Pigeon Union
- Contact the International Federation of American Homing Pigeon Fanciers, Inc. for band code starting with IF
- For band code starting with NPA, contact the National Pigeon Association
- For band code starting with GB, contact the Royal Pigeon Racing Association
Conclusion: The Importance of Helping Lost and Injured Racing Pigeons
Pigeon fanciers have a strong connection with their racing pigeons, which are like family to them. So, you may understand the stress when a fancier doesn’t find one or more of their racing pigeons. So, once you find a lost or injured racing pigeon, you should immediately capture the bird.
These birds may lose their way due to poor visibility, or be injured and compelled to land on your property. Provide it with food and water so that it can recover its strength. Check the ring tag on its legs to find the necessary information about the owner and help the pigeon find its way home.