Science | July 2, 2022 3:13 pm

Pigeon Traveling From Channel Islands to England Winds Up in Alabama

Not an expected trip for a homing pigeon

A pigeon in flight.

As anyone who’s paid attention to the skies in the fall can attest, the migration of birds is anything but subtle. Populations of birds can go hundreds, if not thousands, of miles as they seek warmer weather, crossing vast landscapes as they go. But migration are also relatively easy to quantify — scientists have documented the routes different species of birds take, and there’s a regularity to it.

At least there is most of the time. Every once in a while, though, an anomaly crops up — like, say, a pigeon traveling from the Channel Islands to northern England that ends up in Alabama.

While this might seem like a modified version of Bugs Bunny’s comments about making a wrong turn at Albuquerque, no cartoon animals played a part in this particular event. Instead, as The Guardian reports, a ship traveling from Britain to the United States is believed to have played a role in this slightly off-kilter journey. This might explain why a homing pigeon — known for their ability to, well, return home with a great degree of specificity — did not do so in this case.

The pigeon, named Bob, was en route home, which the article notes would usually take about 10 hours. Three weeks later, he turned up in Alabama, where an animal shelter took him in. The article notes that Bob’s owner plans to travel to the United States to retrieve him — an unexpected but welcome reunion.