We recently speculated that 1,500homing pigeonsin Sweden that never returned home may have been confused bythe changing magnetic poles. But some people think they gotlost due to electronic signals from nearby cell phone towers.
The Swedish homing pigeons aren’t the only onesmissing?about 1,600 pigeons vanished out of 1,800 competingin a 200-mile race from northern Virginia to Allentown,Pennsylvania recently and 600 out of 700 birds were missingafter a 150-mile race on the same day from westernPennsylvania to Philadelphia. Pigeons are missing fromBritish races as well.
Some of the missing U.S. pigeons may have been spotted. JohnCarter of Canton, Ohio, says, “I was leaving work when I sawthese birds in the parking lot. When I got home, I said,’Wait a minute, those are some odd-looking pigeons.’ Ithought maybe they were the missing pigeons.”
Another person says she saw 100 of them resting on a ledgeof a Philadelphia warehouse. A woman in Pennsauken, NewJersey says she put a pigeon that had been resting in herfront yard in a birdcage.
Homing pigeons find their way home using the sun and theearth’s magnetic field as a compass. They are a littlebigger than ordinary pigeons, but the only way to identifyone is to look for a colored band around its leg.
Vivek Chaudhary writes in The Guardian that the BritishRoyal Pigeon Racing Association (BRPRA) is calling forresearch into the problem of cell phone towers. There havebeen an increasing number of complaints over the last fewyears from pigeon racers whose birds didn’t return home.Graham Deacon says, “On one race from Winchester last year Ilost more than 80 birds.”
Peter Bryant, of the BRPRA, says that during World War II,”Their instincts carried them back through hostile fire andthey were even parachuted to members of the resistance andmade their way back from that. It would be ironic if theywere now the victims of an unseen enemy.”
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