Boomer has a new home and a flock to fly with.
The banded pigeon who had taken up temporary residence at the Silver Creek home of Debbie Marzoni in June is roosting and flying in Kamloops.
Arriving in Marzoni’s backyard in early summer, Boomer happily accepted food, settled into her greenhouse and followed her around as she worked in the garden, while keeping a wary eye out for her cats.
While the greenhouse was a suitable summer abode, in September Marzoni began worrying about how the pigeon would fare in winter. The band Boomer was wearing was outdated and untraceable.
As cooler weather approached, Marzoni acted on expert advice, including taking Boomer as far away as Vernon in the hopes the bird would file a new flight plan.
But Boomer found her way back to the Silver Creek greenhouse within a couple of days.
In late September, Marzoni began seeking more suitable accommodation and, following a story in the Observer, received offers of a new home.
The one Marzoni chose for Boomer, who turns out to be female, is Greg Wagner and his Doves Above Kamloops, located at his home near Thompson Rivers University.
Wagner and his pure white “doves” are released for special celebrations in the Kamloops area. Following their release, the birds fly back to their comfortable home.
“There are two types of doves; true doves don’t have a homing instinct,” he says, pointing out why he can’t actually use doves for his business. “These are pure white homing pigeons.”
Rather than feeling duped, Wagner says most people attending the celebrations are usually keenly interested in the birds.
Wagner, whose family lives in Salmon Arm, was made aware of Boomer’s need for a home in an email from his sister.
“Are you missing a bird? Do you want a bird?”
He met Boomer when he came home for Thanksgiving and has since introduced her to the flock.
“She’s doing fine; I kept her inside for almost two months,” he says, noting when he first let her out with another group of birds, Boomer flew up and looked around. “She stayed out for the first night, which is common; it has happened with other birds I’ve re-homed.”
Wagner says he thinks the reason the birds stay out for a night or so has to do with their homing instinct.
“Maybe they go away to reactivate the homing instinct,” he says. “but after a night out, I think she realized there was food and water here so she came back.”
Although she’s getting better at keeping up with the other birds, Wagner says he’s not sure Boomer has the greatest homing instinct.
“She’s a little bit off,” he says, noting homing pigeons can return home from 200 miles away or more. “A bird from Lethbridge was sold to a Vancouver owner but two or three days later turned up back in Lethbridge.”
While she may not become part of the flying business, Wagner has other plans for Boomer and a darker male pigeon in the flock.
He had no intentions of breeding the male – who had other ideas and has since bred with Boomer, so he plans to use them as surrogate parents.
He removed Boomer’s eggs, which she produced at the end of last week, and says, not only does he not plan to breed the amorous pair, this is not a good time to incubate eggs.
Laughingly Wagner notes, he removed Boomer’s eggs and replaced them with wooden ones he purchased on Amazon.
“After 10 or 12 days, they’ll abandon the wooden eggs.”
Next up for Wagner and Doves Above Kamloops is a bridal show at the end of January. He has previously been called upon to release birds at weddings, funerals and a special cross removal ceremony at a local church.