Megan Carey didn’t think much about it at first when her daughter said there was a pigeon outside their Orange home. But the tags on their winged guest’s legs hinted it was no ordinary bird.
The bird, which 11-year-old Norah Carey named Peety, turned out to be a racing pigeon from San Diego who fled the city when a falcon scared him in the middle of training.
When startled, a pigeon will fly until it runs out of energy – in Peety’s case, that was enough to take him from San Diego to a hiding place under the stairs just outside Carey’s home in Orange.
Finding an animal isn’t anything new for Norah, who calls herself “the animal fairy,” so the family humored her by giving the bird seeds, granola and water. After a few days, they were able to get close enough to look at the tags on his legs, which bore a sequence of letters and numbers.
Unable to make heads or tails of the tags, Carey took to Facebook for insight. A member of the Orange Buzz page linked her to a site on deciphering the tags, which revealed Peety to be a racing pigeon.
With a quick phone call to the American Racing Pigeon Union headquarters in Oklahoma, the bird’s owner was found: pigeon racer Art Casale of San Diego.
The Careys captured Peety, flipping over a laundry basket to serve as a makeshift bird cage, and Casale drove up the next day. Before he left, he taught the family about pigeons and pigeon racing
“It was totally meant to be. We’re home schoolers, so we find education in everything that we do,” Carey said. “There’s always something to learn, and this lesson was all about pigeons.”
In pigeon races, trained birds are placed in a trailer and taken to a starting line, sometimes hundreds of miles from their homes. The competitors are then all released at the same time and race back to their homes. Pigeons are known to have an uncanny sense for finding their way home.
Racing pigeons are typically nameless until they pull off a remarkable feat to…