Wearing an out-of-date band that reads “Cpru85 28099 aka Boomer,” a homing pigeon has taken up residence in a private greenhouse on Yankee Flats Road. Property owner Debbie Marzorini is hoping to find Boomer’s real home or some other sanctuary for him before the cold weather arrives. (Photo contributed)

Shuswap homing pigeon in need of new abode

Carrier pigeon wearing outdated identification band takes up residence in Yankee Flats

A pigeon has homed in on Debbie Mazorini’s Yankee Flats property.

Trouble is, it’s not his (or her) real home.

Marzorini was sitting on her back deck enjoying a cup of coffee with her spouse when the pigeon named Boomer first arrived in mid-June.

“He landed on the gazebo and it seemed he recognized my voice, so maybe he was raised by a woman,” she says of the domestic pigeon she believes is a male. “He came towards me, stopped and looked and then flew over to our pond.”

Boomer quickly changed direction when Marzorini’s cats appeared on the scene. He eyed the couple’s greenhouse for a bit before moving in and making it his new home.

“He started following me, walking along on the ground while I was work in our big garden,” she says. “When it was hot, I was out there every day; he’d go on the roof of the green house or in different trees.”

Most mornings, Marzorini says Boomer likes to take to the skies for a bit and sometimes perches in different trees on the property throughout the day. But he always returns to his roost in the greenhouse to spend the night.

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A National Geographic online report states that until now, two main theories say that pigeons rely either on their sense of smell to find their way home or they follow the Earth’s magnetic field lines.

Marzorini wonders if the nearby BC Hydro transmission lines have confused the bird. But new research suggests the pigeons may be using ultralow frequency sounds to navigate.

Pigeons can fly between 600 and 700 miles in a single day, with the longest recorded flight in the 19th century taking 55 days between Africa and England and covering 7000 miles, reports England’s Pigeon Control Resource Centre’s website.

On advice from the Canadian Pigeon Racing Union, the Marzorinis took Boomer to Armstrong, hoping it would be far enough away for his homing instincts to kick in and lead him to his real home.

Not so. Boomer was back in the greenhouse the same day.

So the couple travelled farther away to Vernon, releasing the bird in a field at Davison Orchards.

“It took him almost a week, but he came back here,” says Marzorini. “He obviously wants to be here, but I think he’d like to be with other birds. They’re very intelligent and very social.”

Related: Salmon Arm Foreshore a rich habitat

Now that the busy gardening season is nearing an end, Marzorini says she is not outside as much and is worried Boomer will not be warm enough in her greenhouse over winter.

She has been feeding him and giving him water but does not want to bring him into her home over the winter.

“He gets excited when I bring his food down, he’s got quite a personality and he’s quite a friendly,” she says. “Homing pigeons don’t fend for themselves like wild ones do.”

Boomer wears a band that reads “Cpru 28099 aka Boomer,” but it is outdated and therefore not traceable.

“Ideally I want to find the owner, but if I can’t do that, I would like to find a place to send him,” Marzorini says, pointing out a rescue facility in Kelowna might be an option. “Some people have said stop feeding him, but that doesn’t seem humane.”


@SalmonArm
barb.brouwer@saobserver.net

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