Joe the Pigeon on Death Row

A fascinating journey that sounds the stuff of an animated movie or a children’s book is about to come to a rather different sort of end.

On December 26th, a man by the name of Kevin Celli-Bird discovered an understandably exhausted pigeon resting in the backyard of his home in Melbourne, Australia.

The bird was from America.

Experts believe the racing pigeon arrived from the US, an 8,000 mile journey, to Australia after hitching a ride on a cargo ship across the Pacific Ocean after disappearing from a race in Oregon, USA on October 29th, 2020.

Problem is, the bird, now called Joe after President-elect Joe Biden, is about to have his time in the land down under cut short.

Joe the racing pigeon is considered by authorities of the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service to be a quarantine risk and plan to kill it. Australia has seen first hand the dangers and damage that come from invasive and non-native species, and have notoriously strict protocols around what is and is not permitted. Joe is not permitted.

They contacted Mr. Celli-Bird to ask if he could assist in catching the bird, but that task is no longer feasible.

When it first arrived on Boxing Day, it was emaciated and weak. Mr. Celli-Bird crumbled up a biscuit for Joe was was having a wash in the backyard fountain. That’s When Celli-Bird saw a blue band on the bird’s foot. Celli-Bird was able to figure through the American Racing Pigeon Union that Joe was registered to someone in Montgomery, Alabama.

Professionals are concerned that the bird could potentially be a carrier of diseases and could compromise the health of the wild bird population or even that of their poultry industry.

For the past 3 weeks, the bird spends every day in Celli-Bird’s backyard, occasionally intermingling with a native dove or two.

Is it possible Joe flew all the way to Australia on his own? Possible, but not probable.

Supposedly, the longest recorded flight by a pigeon was from France to Saigon, Vietnam, back in 1931, according to—a distance of 7,200 miles over 24 days.

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