Lost Racing Pigeon Flies Home on Plane
LONDON (AP) _ A racing pigeon that lost its way while flying from France to Britain and ended up in New York finally reached home soil Wednesday as a passenger pigeon on British Airways.
Billy the pigeon was feared dead after he failed to complete a 425-mile flight from northern France to Liverpool, England, a trip begun three weeks ago and which should have taken seven or eight hours at a speed of about 50 mph.
Eleven days ago, Billy turned up some 3,000 miles off course at the New York home of a pigeon racer who identified the bird from a plastic racing tag on his leg. British Airways flew him free of charge to Manchester Airport, where he was briefly reunited with his owner John Warren before beginning a 31-day quarantine.
Joseph Ida, who spotted Billy among his flock of 100 racing pigeons in Staten Island, New York, said the bird had looked thin and tired after completing the trip from France to the United States.
``You could see that he had been out,″ Ida said.
Ida’s friend and fellow pigeon owner John Lucchese said it was unlikely Billy flew all the way across the Atlantic. He said pigeons can fly up to 600 miles a day but need a place to rest at night.
``My guess,″ Lucchese said, ``is he landed on a ship that was headed for New York.″
The pigeon seemed to like New York and Ida during his visit to America, eating pigeon feed out of Ida’s hand. He even got a girlfriend: Ida said Billy ``calmed down″ after mating with one of his pigeons.
``He was on a honeymoon for a week and a half,″ Lucchese said.