The Pigeon That Wouldn't Leave Middle Bass - Posted Sept. 20, 2011

On Tuesday Sept. 13, 2011 I noticed a solitary pigeon that was walking around the lawns in the cluster of six cottages just south of the east end of the main Middle Bass Island airport. Pigeons are rare on the islands, but I didn’t pay any more attention until I noticed him again the next day. I went closer and discovered that the pigeon was fairly tame and seemed exhausted. He had a red band on his left leg and a white band on his right so we guessed that he was a homing pigeon or carrier pigeon. If you got closer than about 3 feet it would fly onto a house or garage.

The next day I took pictures, trying to get info off the bands, and managed to get the letters “IF MSF” and the numbers 2011 and 0195. That allowed me to track down the International Federation of Homing Pigeon Fanciers and their website at “MSF” represents the Michigan State Futurity club based in Bath, MI and a phone call to the club helped me figure out that the owner was Ted Wade from the Lansing area, who was out of town on a Lake Michigan fishing trip.

We had been asked to trap the pigeon but without access to good birdseed I thought he would be better off on his own. He would either leave when he recovered his strength or be around to trap when we had arranged transportation. In fact, we had neighbors who could bring him to Toledo on the weekend if the pigeon could be picked up there.

But the owner didn’t call, and the pigeon gradually gained strength. We assumed that the strong winds over the weekend were somehow to blame for his presence, and that he would eventually leave when he was stronger.

The owner didn’t call us until Monday evening, Sept. 19 even though he had arrived back home Sunday evening. Considering what happened, he called one day too late. He told us that the pigeon was in a 270-mile race from Seymour, IN to Williamston, MI that started on Saturday, Sept. 10. He said that the pigeon had completed this course successfully 11 times in the past and was one of the top contenders in the race. He told me that it was not uncommon for a pigeon to rest for 3-4 days after a race like that. But the distance that this pigeon had come off course was very, very unusual. He had flown about 100 miles too far.

Unfortunately, we had to tell the owner that the pigeon had been killed that afternoon by the island eagle. One of my neighbors actually saw the attack, and a pile of pigeons feathers is still on the lawn where it occurred.

We had really gotten to like the pigeon during the week he was around. We have heard stories about other homing pigeons resting on the islands, especially North Bass, but this was our first encounter with one. We had gotten very fond of it. Three pictures are below.