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26 Aug 2005 14:29
A racing pigeon belonging to Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II has gone missing ahead of a big race, a spokesperson said on Friday.
Pigeon-fanciers feared the young bird may be flocking about with common pigeons—or, worse, have been eaten by a sparrowhawk.
The bird was bred at Sandringham, the queen’s private estate in eastern England, where the British royal family traditionally spends Christmas.
Peter Bryant, general manager of the Royal Pigeon Racing Association, said the bird has ruffled feathers by disappearing for more than a month.
“It might have got disoriented—pigeon racing is all about the ability to home and that’s down to breeding. It might have got distracted and be in someone else’s loft,” he said.
“They can have accidents while on their way home, what with all the wires and cables crossing the roads these days,” said Bryant.
“They can also be taken by birds of prey.”
There has been an unconfirmed sighting in Bexhill-on-Sea on the southern English coast, so Bryant has not given up hope.
“Some pigeons have arrived back a year or so after being released, so it’s fingers crossed,” he said.
But he hopes the queen’s pigeon is not mixing with common types.
“It may have flown off and is living with some feral pigeons somewhere in a town centre.
The queen’s estate has already paid the £100 entry fee for the 383km St Malo to Malvern race on September 11, from the northern French coast to the English Midlands, on September 11.—Sapa-AFP
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