Pink racing pigeon finds friendly human hosts on wayward flight in Leduc
'I liked having him around so much, I was hoping the owners weren't going to pick him up'
Morgan Christiansen is Alberta's newest pigeon fancier after a colourful encounter with a bright pink racing bird.
It turns out this was no ordinary bird but a racing pigeon used in competitions.
Races are held regularly across Alberta, and there is often money on the line for the fastest bird.
"I had no idea about pigeon racing, and I think it's just the neatest thing ever," Christiansen said in an interview with CBC Radio's Edmonton AM. "It was a very tame bird. Really personable.
"I liked having him around so much, I was hoping the owners weren't going to pick him up."
The Christiansens first encountered their vibrant visitor on Monday.
Christiansen's husband, Donny, was enjoying some sun in their backyard in Leduc when he spotted a flash of fuschia flitting from fence post to fence post.
"I thought it was just someone's pet, a pet parrot," he said. "It went on our neighbours' deck and I just ended up walking up to it and grabbed it.
"Last year, the people across the street from us had the same issue with a pigeon. But it was green."
After capturing the bird, Christiansen placed it in a dog crate and roused his wife who was sleeping upstairs.
While feeding the bird sunflower seeds and grated carrots, they noticed it had a band wrapped nearly around his foot.
"It had a phone number on there and it turns out that it was a racing pink pigeon out of Calgary."
"I had never heard of racing pigeons in my entire life. I was so surprised."
The owner of the bird told the Christiansens the wayward pigeon had failed to return from a practice flight in the Calmar area and had been on the loose for a couple of days.
Its tail feathers had been dyed pink with food colouring, a common trick to make the birds easier to distinguish in competitions.
"He was letting his pigeons fly and this one just didn't come back, so he just ended up coming to my house."
You can buy little diapers for them so they can fly around your house.- Morgan Christiansen
The couple started reading every article they could find on racing pigeons and are totally fascinated by the sport.
While they won't be betting on birds anytime soon, they will be getting a prized pigeon of their own.
The owner of the wayward pigeon will give them one as a gift as a show of thanks.
"We wanted to keep the bird so badly, and when he picked it up he said we could have one. But not the one we found, because that one is a prize winner.
"We'll see what happens. But apparently you can train them to stay around you, and you can buy little diapers for them so they can fly around your house.
"They're supposed to be really neat pets. I had no idea you could even have a pet pigeon."