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2,000 of our dino-birds are missing

A weird story from AP.  I wonder if dinosaurs got "lost" in huge
numbers like this.

                       *  *  *

Homing Pigeons Gone Missing

Filed at 11:46 a.m. EDT

By The Associated Press
ALLENTOWN, Pa. (AP) -- Some 2,400 homing pigeons disappeared during
two long-distance races on the same day, a nearly unheard-of loss in
the little-known sport of pigeon racing. 

About 1,800 pigeons vanished out of 2,000 competing in a 200-mile race
from northern Virginia to Allentown on Monday. And 600 out of 800
birds were still missing today from a separate 150-mile race from
western Pennsylvania to Philadelphia. 

Ordinarily, the swift-flying birds should have been back in their
lofts in a matter of hours. 

``I've never seen anything like this,'' said Earl Hottle of Allentown,
who has been racing pigeons for 37 years. ``Nobody can explain it.'' 

Pigeon racing has thrived for centuries among a devoted group of
several hundred breeders in the mid-Atlantic states. Some racing
pigeons can cost up to $250,000, according to the Racing Pigeon Digest
in Lake Charles, La. 

Each weekend in spring and fall, thousands of pigeons are trucked up
to 600 miles away and released. Relying on their homing instinct and
incredible stamina, the pigeons fly directly to their lofts. The ones
with the fastest times are the winners. 

In any race, a small percentage of the birds do not return home -- but
a 90 percent loss rate is unusual. 

``We've heard of this in other areas,'' said Jim Effting, who had only
three of 37 birds return in the race from Virginia. ``But we've never
had it happen around here.'' 

Racing veterans have few ideas about what caused the birds to lose
their way -- or otherwise disappear. There were no weather problems
during either race, sun spot activity was low and no comets, meteor
showers or planet alignments occurred. The skies were clear of
satellite interference. 

``The chances that 2,000 hawks would get 2,000 pigeons are pretty
unlikely,'' said racer Dennis Gaugler. ``The birds would scatter when

``The truth is that nobody knows what happened,'' said another racer,
Robert Costagliola, ``and probably never will.'' 


"There are times when verbal ingenuity is not enough." 


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