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Charles Walcott PhD ’59 comments on lost homing pigeons

Around 10,000 homing pigeons disappeared in a race in Cambridgeshire, England on June 19.

About 10,000 racing pigeons mysteriously lost their way during a race in Cambridgeshire, England on June 19. Some of the birds have started turning up in Ireland, but most are still missing. Members of the Royal Pigeon Racing Association report that this is unprecedented, since the homing pigeons are renowned for their ability to find their way home.

“You can take one of these pigeons a thousand miles or more in any direction from the home loft, let them go and they fly home,” said Charles Walcott PhD ’59, professor emeritus and university ombudsman. Walcott's decades of research on homing pigeons showed that they use the sun, earth’s magnetic field, and alternative cues to navigate.

So what happened on June 19? Race organizers think the lost pigeons might have been confused by wind or solar activity.