According to pigeon racing enthusiasts, June 19, 2021, was the worst day in the history of pigeon racing when thousands of pigeons went missing in about 50 races across the United Kingdom and did not return in the expected time. Some pigeon owners claimed that solar winds above the clouds might have disoriented the pigeons making them go astray.
According to the pigeon fanciers, the phenomenon is unprecedented. “I’m 45 and have kept pigeons since I was nine years of age and I have never heard of anything like this. It was extremely unusual and is a real mystery,” Royal Pigeon Racing Association (RPRA) chief Ian Evans told The Times.
According to a Daily Mail report, on June 19, about 250,000 birds were released for the pigeon races but 90% of them did not return in time. According to the enthusiasts of the sport, the forecast on the day was overcast but had clear visibility, and by the afternoon the sky returned to being blue again. The breeders believe that this might be due to a ‘solar storm’ above the clouds that might have confused the birds and thrown off their routes.
The first reports of the birds going missing came from a 273-km race from Peterborough to North Yorkshire. Initially, the bird owners were clueless but when they saw on social media that the disappearances were happening across multiple races, they were surprised. Some enthusiasts have theories that there was something mysterious going on because, on the day of the races, they did not see many birds in the sky. Since the trained homing pigeons are expensive, losing them will take a huge financial toll on the owners.
Pigeon racing is a sport in which trained homing pigeons are flown across distances ranging from about 100 to 1000 kilometres. In Britain, this sport has a special value as it is a part of the traditions of the British Royal Family. Other than tradition and hobby, the sport is also a big business, under which racing homers, pigeons with advanced speed and navigation abilities, are selectively bred, trained and sold. The range of prices for good speedsters can shoot up to as much as two crores internationally.