'ARTY' the pigeon is back at home and taking it 'coo-l' after being attacked by a bird of prey during a 250-mile flight home to Cumbria.
The battered and bruised racing pigeon fell out of the sky over Grange Promenade with missing feathers and blood on his breast.
Fortunately for Arty, he nosedived into PromArt, an outdoor showcase of local artists, who quickly ran to the rescue.
It led to a two-day stay in Grange in the care of residents Frank McCall and wife Margaret, who is involved in the art showcase.
The plucky pigeon recuperated in an old hamper in the couples’ garage, pecking on bird seed and water.
Mr McCall, in his 60s, said: “We couldn’t leave it to die but where do you start to get it help? RSPB, RSPCA? We tried the Archway Vets in Grange. We were a bit worried that when we went down the next morning that it might have died but it hadn’t – although it had left us a few ‘presents’!”
Mr McCall is no stranger to research after a career in the national archives office and set about his detective work.
After help from the Royal Pigeon Racing Association and Arty’s leg ring, Mr McCall tracked down Arty’s owner, Dennis Creighton, who lives near Silloth.
“He was overjoyed that he got one of his winners back.”
Wife Margaret said: “He had lost several of his wing feathers and will not be racing again this season but instead will be on stud duty.”
Relieved owner Dennis, who lives near Silloth, had been waiting for the two-year-old bird, who was one of eight from his loft taking part in the race.
Farmer Mr Creighton, who has had pigeons since he was six, said: “There can’t be too many times he’s not been in the top three – he’s won races and bred winners. Although, sometimes they can be out for six weeks. Looking at him, I think that a hawk or a falcon has had a go at him.
“I’m really pleased to be getting him back and I can’t thank Frank and Margaret enough.” Arty was on his return to Cumbria after being released in Marlborough in Wiltshire, with around 2,000 other birds.
DID YOU KNOW?
* Pigeons have only 40 taste buds – humans have around 10,000.
* The Romans used pigeons to convey messages across the empire such as betting on Olympic Games results or releasing them from ships to warn their home port of their imminent arrival.
* Carrier pigeons were held in high esteem in the Arab world and were called “The King’s Angels”.