The two original people left, and we stood over it for a couple of minutes, assessing the situation. atara noticed that both of its legs were banded, which dovetailed into her suggestion that it was probably a racing pigeon.
We found a pigeon! And phoned the owner.... pic.twitter.com/weKOViolWd— Atara (@Atara) July 23, 2015
Although it was tame, it was a bit skittish whenever we got close enough to actually reach out for it, so we kept watch and discussed our next steps. We looked up suggestions on our phones (there are a surprising number of sites out there with advice on what to do if one finds a pigeon), and we decided that the best course was to corral it into a pet carrier and give it some fresh water.
I left atara to keep watch over it while I went home to fetch a carrier, and a bottle and bowl for water. By the time I got home, she had got close enough to read the first part of a phone number stamped into one of the leg bands. She cross-referenced that against the registry for the local Pigeon Fanciers society, and called the number matching the exchange.
The person she reached was not the owner - none of his pigeons are banded - but he agreed to come by and pick it up, since he could probably find the owner for us. I imagine the pigeon society out here is not a large group, so as likely as not, he probably knew the owner. She gave him our address, and he promised to swing right by to get the bird.
Alas, herding it into the carrier proved to be a trickier task than we had hoped, and we began to fear that it might fly away if we became too aggressive. On the other hand, it did not appear to be very eager to leave the street corner where it was resting, so atara stayed by to hold vigil over it while I went home to wait for the person we called to come by and collect the bird.
When he finally showed up, I told him that the pigeon was still free because we had been afraid of spooking it by trying to get it into the carrier. I said that we figured it was probably better for us to just wait for the expert to show up rather than having us risk scaring it away to parts unknown. He was concerned by this, and admitted that he is not an expert at corralling racing pigeons either, so if it was skittish, he was as likely as us to scare it away.
I offered to lead him to the wayward bird, but as we started down the street, we ran into atara coming the other way with the pigeon securely locked in the cat carrier. He pulled the pigeon out, flipped it upside down and showed us the bands to explain how it was a racing pigeon. He explained that he races fancy pigeons, not racing ones.
Once he could spin the bands all the way around, we found that the one with the area code and exchange actually had the owner's whole phone number stamped into it, and he promised that he would contact the owner once he got home.
In retrospect, I wonder how much the owner actually missed his bird. From the sound of it, the way you race pigeons is to release them and see how many make it back. If it doesn't make it back, well, it wasn't a very good racer then, was it? Still, I suppose we did a good deed, because I can't shake the feeling that it would have ended up as cat food or roadkill if we had not interceded.