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" Great Stories "

"Marty" The Racing Pigeon


Yesterday afternoon while out for a walk with the children, we saw a pigeon walking around driveways and yards on our street.  The children went up to the pigeon and he didn't fly away, he just continued to peck at the ground searching for food.  I noticed that he had ring bands on both legs.

We continued on our walk and talked about this friendly bird while wondering who he belonged to.
A couple of hours later, the pigeon had made his way up the street and was in our next door neighbours driveway.  My neighbour had left her front door open and the pigeon hopped up the stairs and walked straight into her home.  We were all very surprised to see such a domesticated bird!

I ran home and grabbed a large container as we wanted to ensure that the bird remained safe until the owner was located.  My daughter named him "Marty".

Last evening my daughter read her books to Marty on the back deck while she ate her dinner beside his container.  I had covered the top of the container with chicken wire to keep predators away and to keep him safe.

I went onto the internet after reading the numbers on his ring bands and found out that the bird was registered with the Candian Pigeon Racing Union.  I read the bands closer and was able to make out the owners name and telephone number.  I then called the owner (who lives in Richmond Hill, Ontario Canada) and was surprised to find out that this young pigeon was born in June 2011 and has already won a race.
This past Sunday, August 28, 2011, his owner released him from a small town just north of North Bay, Ontario Canada and should have returned to his own home in Richmond Hill within about 4 hours.  Unfortunately, there was inclement weather along the route home and the pigeon lost his way.  He flew until he didn't have the strengthy to fly anymore and ended up on our street in Waterloo Ontario Canada, exhausted and hungry.

We are feeding Marty dried corn and sunflower seeds.  He immediately drank water and ate feed from the dishes I have set into his box.  The owner believes that it will take a week or two before Marty is strong enough to fly again and return home.  I cannot believe the excellent condition of Marty, he has not lost feathers and does not have any wounds considering his ordeal.
We agreed with the owner that our family will care for Marty until he is strong again.  Once he is ready to fly (we need to ensure that it is a clear day without any storms in the forecast) and we will release him into the air.  I am to expect that Marty will circle around in the air, trying to find his direction home by using the Sun as his guide.

The owner advised me that there is a possibility that Marty may choose to stay with us and not return home.  We will see what Marty decides!

Marty's Progress

I can't believe we have had Marty in our home for only 48 hours.  It feels as though he has been part of our family for so much longer!  My daughter loves to sing any song that she can to him.  He has been "learning" the words to "Puff the Magic Dragon" as he has heard it many times already. 

Marty is recovering so quickly.  He is perky, eating well and grooming himself.  He has been flapping his wings a lot today, either to stretch or prepare for take off, not sure what it is.

We had a very warm day today with the humidex reaching 40 degrees Celcius.  I kept Marty inside our home, near a shaded doorway with a nice breeze to keep him cool.  At one point, he was lying down on his stomach around the warmest part of the day.

My daughter Ava felt that it would be appropriate to give Marty a bath - just to cool him off.  I complied with her request by putting a large and shallow bowl in his cage containing water.  Well, it was interesting to say the least.  The first thing Marty did was step into that bowl.  Then, he tried to step out of it.  The edges of the bowl had a slight curve, so he slid and wiped out.  If that wasn't enough, he then perched himself on the edge of the bowl and tried to fly, only to end up in his cage.  He kept getting in and out of the bowl.
It was apparent that his feet were adequately washed off, so I then removed the bowl.

Marty is very pleased to have the bedding changed.  I find that he eliminates quite frequently during the day, so we change the bedding (newspaper) twice a day.  I am thinking I might step it up to three times a day to ensure that he is comfortable.  He never tries to peck at me while I change his bedding, refresh his water and food dishes - he seems to have a little smile on his beak once I am finished. 

The most interesting part is that when I approach Marty or speak to him, he cocks his head to one side, watching and listening to me.  It's wonderful to see him responding to me.  He also does the same with Ava.  Whenever our Golden Retriever comes near the cage, Marty watches him with curious interest.

Early in the evening, after Marty's "bath", we put him outside on the back deck so that he could enjoy the fresh air and listen to the neighbouring birds.  Ava and I went to have a shower after a hot and humid day, so we put Bentley outside on the deck with Marty for protection against any feral felines looking for a snack.  See how we have adapted?  It feels like Marty has been with us forever!

My daughter coloured a page of a pigeon today.  I had meant to mention that Marty is a "Blue Bar".  He does not have blue colouring, it is simply the black bars or stripes on his feathers.  He does have pretty green and purple iridescent colouring around his neck area.  I was so moved by Ava's colouring and how she included the green and purple colours around Marty's neck that I wanted to share it with you below:
 
                                                 

Marty the "Little Gentleman"

Every day we are continuing to learn more about Marty and his habits.  He really has been a pleasure to have in our home and has been on his very "best behaviour".  He has been quite a "little gentleman"!

Last evening, we had a thunderstorm with bright and intense lightning.  Approximately 15 minutes before the storm was overhead, Marty kept flapping his wings and appeared to want to fly out of his cage.  He was making quite a commotion.  I moved Marty beside me while I was sitting on the couch and this appeared to help calm him down.  I realize now that he could sense the storm coming and it was instinctive for him to try and fly home before the weather became severe - as all birds do.

My daughter coloured a picture of a pigeon in flight this morning.  She is still using the green and purple colours for his head and neck areas.  Notice the red Sun in the upper right hand corner:


Marty enjoyed watching television with us, he appeared to be fascinated by the movement and colours on the screen.  He also suprised me by making a soft throaty cooing sound.  This is the first time we've heard him making "pigeon noises".

Marty is toilet trained? 
Before Marty went to bed last night, I put a clay bowl in his cage hoping that he would view this as a nest for roosting.  When we got up this morning, he was proudly perched on the edge of the bowl.  Even more surprising was that he used the bowl as a toilet through the night.  I didn't see one dropping on the newspaper lining the bottom of his cage.  What a smart bird!  Like I said, he is quite a "little gentleman"!

Things We Love About Marty...

We picked up Grit for Marty and he is really into it.  Grit is a combination of gravel, charcoal and oyster shell flakes to help birds with digestion.  They don't produce acids as a human digestive tract does so they need Grit to help them breakdown and digest their feed.  Now, had someone asked me if I knew what Grit was a week ago, I am certain that I would have come up with the wrong answer.  This has been a wonderful journey for our family and Marty has touched our lives forever.

We have decided to dedicate this post to The Things We Love About Marty (my daughter had a lot of input into this one):

1.  He never tries to peck at us when changing his bedding or replacing his food/water.

2.  When he puffs out his feathers and spreads out his wings ( we think he's just showing off!)

3.  He can actually turn his head around 180 degrees!  This is way too cool...

4.  The way he eats.  Look out! The feed and grit becomes airborne!

5.  He puts up with our singing - he's the only one.

6.  His soft cooing noises.  We always stop what we are doing to listen to this sound.

7.  He's a Pigeon with Personality.

8.  He puts up with our Golden Retriever's barking (I hope Marty doesn't learn to bark!)

9.  When we talk to Marty, he will stretch his neck and cock his head to listen to us.

10. His willingness to survive and adapt - Hey who said living with us was easy?

It seems like the countdown has begun.  I have been conversing with Marty's owner and his partner and we are looking releasing Marty this coming Saturday September 10, 2011 in the morning.  I have checked the weather forecast and it looks like it is going to be a clear sunny day.  I will continue to monitor the weather conditions as you know how Mother Nature can change her mind as most women do!

Fairies and Pigeons?

Our homeschool lesson today was centred around the fascinating theme of Fairies.  We had built a structure for a "Fairy House" and were going to adorn it with leaves, twigs and flowers; however it began to rain this morning and we were unable to collect dry decorations.  Legend has it that if you build a Fairy House and put it in your garden, you will attract magical fairies.

I decided that we could work on making our own Fairy while we waited for a sunny day. 

I raided an old stash of potpourri and we easily constructed a Fairy by securing the pieces of natural potpourri with the help of a glue gun.  My daughter helped me to pick out the pieces of dried nuts, leaves and gourds.  I found some Tulle in my fabric armoire and we made a little dress for Ava's new friend (note the crown on her head).  Add wings with purple cardstock and some sparkly fairy dust..voila!

What Fairy isn't complete without her own pet Pigeon?  We found the perfect arrangement within our supplies to contruct a Pigeon.  Ava played very gently with her new "friends" today.  I loved watching her imagination soar just from simple pieces of natural material.