Police Searching for Owner of Flock of Pigeons That Caused Interstate Shutdown

Last week, a flock of homing pigeons fell from the back of a truck on Interstate 95 in Daytona Beach, Florida, causing a three-hour shutdown. ClickOrlando reported that Volusia County Animal Services, The Florida Highway Patrol and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission all worked together to help gather the pigeons and return them safely home. As of July 7, however, animal services still haven't found the pigeons' owners. But soon, the birds will have a new place to call home.

AP News reported that on June 29, a crate carrying 100 pigeons fell off the back of a truck traveling along I-95. "Because the birds roost at night," AP said, "the pigeons stayed on the road until bright lights from vehicles startled them." As a result, the birds flew into the air, creating a hazard for other drivers. So, several drivers placed calls to the local sheriff's office around 11 p.m. telling authorities that "500 white doves" were flying "at cars" near a highway exit, ClickOrlando stated.

The next day, Florida Highway Patrol shared pictures of the pigeons to their official Twitter account and announced that 73 had been rescued.

"FHP flocks together to save a crate full of pigeons that fell off of a truck onto I-95," FHP said in the tweet. "Thanks to Tpr. Wray and Trp. Clark for protecting our citizens and our feathered friends. 73 pigeons [were] rescued."

Volusia County: FHP flocks together to save a crate full of pigeons that fell off of a truck, onto I-95. Thanks to Tpr. Wray and Trp. Clark for protecting our citizens and our feathered friends. 73 pigeons rescued. pic.twitter.com/shpQrmT6NH

— FHP Orlando (@FHPOrlando) June 30, 2021

The pigeons could neither find their way back home nor could an owner be tracked down by specialists, as the birds were not banded.

"Most homing pigeons are trained and able to find their way home," Kate Sark, Sr. Marketing Specialist for Volusia County Government told Newsweek. "However, according to the trainer currently housing the pigeons, many of the birds were whistle/peeping, which indicates that they are likely very young.

"Additionally, none have homing pigeon bands on their legs and they all suffered damages to their wing feathers," Sark continued. "The damage requires that they be housed and cared for so that their wing feathers can grow back."

While homing pigeons are known for their navigational abilities, groups can and do occasionally get lost. In 2013, a geophysicist named Jon Hagstrum proposed a theory to address this "homing pigeon disorientation."

In his research, Hagstrum proposed homing pigeons follow low-frequency sound waves known as infrasound to find their way back home. When something interrupts these waves, he said, pigeons lose their ability to fly back.

Because pigeons can get lost, Sark recommended pigeon owners "register their bird(s) with the National Homing Pigeon Registry and have a registry band placed on each bird."

Though the owners of the Florida pigeons have yet to be found, animal services have ensured the birds will soon be rehomed.

According to Sark, the pigeons are currently in the care of a rescue, and in about a month, the birds will begin flight show training at Universal Studios in Orlando.

homing pigeon
Last week, a crate of homing pigeons fell off the back of a moving truck on Interstate 95 in Florida, causing a three-hour shutdown. Volusia County Animal Services rescued the pigeons and are currently looking for their owner. Getty/Christopher Furlong / Staff