Homing Pigeons May Be Losing Instinct

Various homing pigeon races took place along the East Coast circa early October 1998, but the results were not those expected. Far too many birds got lost.

In a race from western Pennsylvania to the Philadelphia suburbs, only 200 of the 900 released arrived at their destination.

On October 5, in a race from New Market, Virginia to Allentown, Pennsylvania, only 300 of 1800 managed to get "home."

Birds engaged in these and other races ended up in all manner of places, including bird feeders and horse barns. Pigeons with leg bands were found everywhere from Delaware to Oklahoma, according to organizers.

Interference from cellular phones was suggested as a cause of the debacles, as were sunspots.

If further racers turn up, identification numbers on the birds' legbands can be used to trace their owners. And if one finds a bird that has a band with "AU" on it, the American Racing Pigeon Union can be contacted.

Source: Houston Chronicle, 10/9/98