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A long way from home: Lost racing pigeon visits Wayne Township firefighters

Posted at 12:08 AM, Jun 22, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-22 00:41:50-04

INDIANAPOLIS — The firefighters of Station 85 had an unexpected feathered visitor Friday afternoon.

Captain Mike Pruitt of the Wayne Township Fire Department said the crew noticed a bird who appeared to be lost hanging around the station. The firefighters looked a little closer at the bird, noticed it was banded and went to work to learn more about their new avian friend.

"After a little online detective work, they discovered that this bird is Racing Homer pigeon and has been missing from its trainer," Pruitt said.

A Racing Homer pigeon is a type of domestic pigeon that was first bred in Belgium and England in the 19th century by crossing other pigeon breeds. They are selectively bred for more speed and enhanced homing instinct for the sport of pigeon racing.

And according to the Royal Pigeon Racing Association, pigeons are bred for the sport and take off from specific locations and race back to their home lofts. The birds can live up to 20 years, while pigeons in the wild have an average lifespan of 3-to-4 years.

The firehouse pigeon received a trip to the vet where she was deemed to be healthy, yet a bit stressed.

"The vet says with a little rest, food (loves Corn Flakes) and water, she will get her energy and, more than likely, will fly home," Pruitt said.

And where is home? Pruitt said they think the pigeon is a native of Baldwin, N.Y., which Google Maps says is an 11 hour, 50 minute drive for humans.

"We knew this bird was from New York when she walked into the firehouse like it owned the place and said, “I’m mad hungry, bro!" Pruitt said.

For now, the pigeon is in the care of one of the station's paramedics and will be ready to fly home soon.