It's raining pigeons

Kathryn Aegis (
Fri, 9 Oct 1998 19:57:18 -0700 (PDT)

Homing pigeons, actually. In one of the odder natural events on the East Coast of the United States, 75% of nearly 3000 homing pigeons became completely lost during a competitive race this past week in the Washington area. This is an astonishing percentage of loss for the creatures. They have been flying around for days, into a state of complete exhaustion, and landing in people's yards.

Although the mechanism by which homing pigeons operate is not completely understood, this incident may eventually yield a key to understanding it, and maybe utilizing it in some way. Sunspot activity can confuse a homing pigeon, but there was no sunspot activity this week. The prevailing theory is that this area has become an intensive cellphone region, and that the increase in use of cellphones is somehow interfering with the birds' homing mechanisms. Most races have been held on the weekend, when cellphone activity is low, but this particular race was held during the weekday, when cellphone activity is high.

Kathryn Aegis