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Goodview man finds racing pigeon (07/13/2008)
By Cynthya Porter

Photo by Cynthya Porter
     AU TRW 1456, a.k.a. “Freedom,” got a good rest and some high octane eats in John Kosidowski’s Goodview garage this week while the lost racing pigeon recuperated for a long trip home.

When AU TRW 1465 wandered into John Kosidowski's garage in Goodview last Saturday, he probably wasn't feeling terribly lucky.

But little did the wayward pigeon know, he had come to the right place.

Kosidowski and his wife Rita had just returned home when a youngster across the street chased the bird, causing it to waddle over to their open garage, and right away Kosidowski noticed two things.

One was the telltale bands around the bird's leg, meaning he was likely a racing pigeon. The second was that the little guy looked awfully, awfully tired.

With a net Kosidowski scooped up the tame but shy bird, holding him close to scribble down the numbers off the band.

It turns out Kosidowski used to race pigeons himself back in the day, and he knew those numbers meant there was an owner out there wondering where this pigeon had ended up.

Using the Internet, Kosidowski traced the numbers to the Three Rivers Flying Club in Manitowoc, Wisconsin, a Lake Michigan town about 200 miles away.

The birds Kosidowski used to race in his youth went short distances, perhaps 25 miles or so. But he knew it was entirely possible this bird had been released as part of a race, perhaps in La Crosse, and somehow lost its course on the way to Manitowoc.

It turns our Kosidowski was right and wrong. The bird had been part of a race, and it had good reason to be tired.

Through contacts at the American Racing Pigeon Union in Oklahoma, he learned the pigeon had been released in Topeka, Kansas, on June 28, about 550 miles from Manitowoc.

A bird can probably traverse that distance in a day, Kosidowski said, flying 45 miles an hour and with a mysterious homing beacon that will always lead it back to the spot where it hatched.

Well, almost always.

AU TRW 1465, which Kosidowski nicknamed "Freedom" for his independent flight and Independence Day weekend appearance, was either very lost or was enjoying an extended tour of the Midwest, because after a week he still had a long way to go.

Thanks to his past experience with birds, and pigeons in particular, Kosidowski knew to give the bird some corn and water and a quiet place to rest.

Freedom didn't really seem sick, Kosidowski said, just very tired. "When he was sitting still he looked like he was falling asleep, just really droopy," he said.

Through a series of e-mails, Kosidowski also learned that Freedom had made another stop on his Minnesota tour, ending up in the care of someone named Amy in Red Wing on July 2.

The flight club told Amy the same thing they told Kosidowski: Let the bird go, he'll make his way home.

Well, Winona is kind of getting headed in the right direction towards home for the pigeon, Kosidowski thought, but that he only made it 60 miles in three days probably meant he needed a good rest before he tried it again.

Aside from Freedom's exhausted state, the persistent threat of storms made Kosidowski reluctant to let the bird go right away, so he arranged with the club to release him Saturday instead.

What will become of Freedom Kosidowski isn't sure, although the internal GPS of these pigeons defies explanation, he said.

The birds can't even be sold and later raced again, because they will always return to the place where they were hatched, no matter how far, Kosidowski said.

When Freedom eventually and hopefully flies into his coop in Manitowoc, the tiny magnetic device in his other band will send a signal to stop time on the race.

And though Freedom most assuredly lost, the stories he'll have to share in the coop that night will no doubt be hard to beat by the birds already sitting there waiting for him.



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