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They flew the coop — and vanished into thin air.
Bird handlers are devastated after a mind-boggling 5,000 homing pigeons seemingly disappeared during a race across the UK.
“We’ve seen one of the very worst ever racing days in our history,” pigeon hobbyist Richard Sayers wrote in a Facebook post chronicling the feathery fiasco, which occurred Saturday after 9,000 racing birds took off from Peterborough, Cambs, on a journey to the Northeast. And while the 170-mile round-trip flight should’ve only taken three hours, over half the avian competitors were still unaccounted for as of last night.
They were reportedly part of 250,000 pigeons released in approximately 50 racing events across the country — with just 10% returning on time and another tens of thousands reported missing, the Sun reported.
This meteorological event may have distorted Earth’s magnetic field, which the pigeons use to navigate like a meteorological GPS.
It’s unclear what prompted the squab squadrons to seemingly vanish into thin air. However Sayers, whose local pigeon coop reportedly lost as many as 300 birds in the flight-marish phenomenon, said most breeders are “blaming the atmospheric conditions, possibly a solar storm above the clouds that created static in the atmosphere.”
Ian Evans, CEO of the Royal Pigeon Racing Association, finds the Bermuda Triangle-esque disappearance especially baffling as “weather conditions across the country were good.” He added that “there was nothing to suggest that any birds would struggle to get home.”
“I have never heard of anything like this,” lamented the bereaved bird boss, 45, who’s reportedly owned pigeons since he was 9 years old.
To help re-coop-erate losses, Sayers is imploring “anyone who comes across a racing pigeon to feed, water and let it rest,” whereupon “there’s an 80% chance the birds will get on their way after a few days,” he told the Daily Mail. The North Yorkshire native added that the homing pigeons can be identified by a leg ring denoting their “code and number.”
To prevent such disasters in the future, Royal Pigeon Racing Association boss Evans is holding talks with the UK’s national weather service to obtain reports on any unusual solar activity.
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