Homing pigeon back safe after amazing race

Ben Veitch's four year old racing pigeon, Blue Hen which flew 600 miles from Reims in France to Cove
Ben Veitch's four year old racing pigeon, Blue Hen which flew 600 miles from Reims in France to Cove

A racing pigeon that was presumed dead has made a miraculous recovery after being found by a retired local environmentalist.

Graham White, of Coldstream, picked up the bird after he noticed it by the side of the A1 near Cove.

“The bird made no effort to escape as I walked up to it, and only flutterd a little as I picked it up,” he said.

“It was clear that this was a racing pigeon; it carried a bright yellow ring from the Scottish Racing Union.

“She seemed alert and active, but she was badly injured from what looked like a hawk-strike. A large crust of congealed blood ran for two inches down the right side of the breast bone. The bird seemed to have been lying in the fields for some days, as it had lost a huge amount of weight.”

A Google search of the ring number found the bird’s owner, Ben Veitch, a young fancier from East Saltoun.

Ben has pigeon-racing in his blood: his grandfather Bill Fairgreaves, a Haddington fancier has kept birds for over 70 years. He revealed that this blue hen was a very special bird indeed.

She is descended from pigeon aristocracy. Her grand-dam won an All-Britain Race, the pigeon equivalent of a racehorse winning the Derby.

The Scottish National Pigeon Racing Club sent hundreds of pigeons 700 miles south, to Reims in France, where they were released on Monday June 30.

However, Ben’s blue hen never arrived and after a week, she was listed as ‘missing’.

Ben judged that the starving hen had lost around half of her body weight. He added it was virtually unknown for such a badly injured bird to survive for seven days alone without proper food and water.

The irony is that the bird was just 15 miles from home when she was attacked by a hawk - and was presumably close to beating the eventual winner, a bird from Cockburnspath.

Ben picked up his brave bird from Coldstream, and said that even if she doesn’t race again, any chicks she has will have great racing genes.