- STOCKHOLM, Sweden (AP) -
Organizers of a race for homing pigeons were still scratching their heads
in wonder Thursday after about 1,500 of the birds, famous for their ability
to find their way home, went missing during the contest.
- Of the 2,000 pigeons let loose last week, only about
500 have returned to their lofts after the 150-kilometer (93 mile) flight
between the cities of Ljungby and Malmoe in southern Sweden, said Lars-Aake
Nilsson of the Malmoe Homing Pigeon Club.
- "The weather was perfect - no rain, no thunder and
no strong winds," he said.
- In past races, the birds, all of which sport electronic
identification tags around their feet, made the journey in about two hours.
- But at Sunday's race, something went wrong.
- "I have worked with pigeons since 1960 and have
never experienced anything like this," Nilsson said, adding that the
birds might have been thrown off course by subtle changes in the earth's
- The pigeons have a natural homing instinct and are believed
to navigate by the sun and the magnetic waves of the earth, Nilsson said.
- "And even though some are lost to hawks or hazards
like power lines along the way, many more should have made it back home.
It's a mystery," he added.
- He said there have been no reported sightings of the
missing birds anywhere in southern Sweden. He declined to say how much
the birds were worth.
- "It's not so much the economic value as it is a
loss to the sport," Nilsson said. "It takes about two years to
breed a racing pigeon."
- Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All rights reserved.