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Racing pigeon found at Arts Council, mailed home

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Homer the pigeon rests in a cage Wednesday before the Cecil County Arts Council mails him back home in New York City.

ELKTON — We’ve all been there — too tired to go anywhere after a big meal, and sooner or later in need of a ride home. And it seems our fine feathered friends can suffer from the same malaise.

Cecil County Arts Council Executive Director Annmarie Hamilton found a lost racing pigeon picking seeds from a hay bale behind the CCAC Tuesday.

Hamilton said she kept her eye on the bird for a while, but the pigeon just continued to find seeds for two hours.

“He must have been tired, but he seemed to be domesticated because he didn’t flip out when people came around,” Hamilton said.

County maintenance crews happened to be in the building to assist the Historical Society of Cecil County, and one crew member had handled birds in the past. With his help, the pigeon was caught with a blanket and safely put in a box.

Once the pigeon was caught, Hamilton and others noticed a band around its leg that read “IF 274” and “Perth Amboy, N.J.” Instead, the CCAC team called him Homer.

The CCAC started calling around to Tri-State Bird Rescue & Research in Newark, Del., Cecil County Animal Services and others, until finally his owner was found in Staten Island, N.Y.

His name is Homer, even though he was found far from home.

“It seems he’s a racing pigeon and he got lost after a weekend race in Pa.,” Hamilton said.

Given the long drive to fetch the pigeon, the owner said to use a carrier and mail it home. But in the meantime, Hamilton and other CCAC staff kept Homer in a dog cage with food, water, a perch and some hay.

A mirror was propped against the wall near his cage, and Homer often stared at himself. Pigeons are flock birds, so the mirror tricks Homer into thinking he’s part of a flock again and helps him adjust.

Homer was mailed on Wednesday night, complete with postage tracking and signature required to confirm receipt.

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