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Although Band-Tailed Pigeons (Patagioenas fasciata) are comman at the BFS, the familiar Rock Pigeon (Columba livia), which prefers a more urban environment, is only seen sporadically. So when one recently stopped to take a drink at the south shore of pHake Lake, I took the opportunity to photograph it for our photo database.

It was only when I looked at the photos that I realized the pigeon was banded. By enlarging the photo I could read part of the lettering on the band, and a bit of sleuthing revealed that the band was from the American Racing Pigeon Union, who confirmed that this was not your run-of-the-mill city pigeon, but someone’s racing pigeon.

The racing pigeon getting a drink from pHake Lake. Nancy Hamlett.

The racing pigeon getting a drink from pHake Lake. Nancy Hamlett.

Racing pigeons are a special subset of homing pigeons. In competition, birds are released at a carefully measured distance from their home lofts. The time they return to the loft is carefully recorded, and the pigeon who had the fastest average speed is the winner. These birds are amazing; the fastest birds often average well over 50 mph during a race, which typically covers a distance of 100 to 1,000 km. No wonder the pigeon wanted a drink!

We don’t know for sure if the pigeon was just stopping during a race or if it was lost. So if you see a pigeon with a pink leg band hanging around the BFS, please call the BFS office (909-398-1751) or email the Director (wallace.meyer@pomona.edu), and we’ll try to reunite it with its owner.

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