WHITEHALL, Mich. -- A family in Whitehall is playing host – albeit accidentally – to a mysterious feathered guest.
Cheri Hentschel is an animal lover by nature. Her backyard is littered with chickens and she says she has an innate fascination with anything that swims, flies, slithers or crawls – especially birds.
“My curiosity is there about a lot of things with animals,” she said.
But her intrigue was taken to a new high when an unexpected arrival flew into the family garage last week.
“My husband was in the driveway fixing the car and a bird flew in the garage. And he said ‘Hun, come look at this.’ And he said ‘what is that?’ and I said ‘it looks like a tiny chicken.’”
Close…but not quite. A quick scan through the family’s bird book led them to the discovery that it was, in fact, a pigeon. Even more curious was the tag on the pigeon’s leg. The tether read: 499-LONE★-11
Texas, of course nicknamed the Lone Star State, recently fell victim to Hurricane Harvey. At first, Cheri’s initial thought was the bird wasn’t a runaway at all – but a refugee.
“I don’t know if it’s a bit of a stretch,” she said. “I don’t know how far pigeons will go or if the weather will affect them to that extent but we definitely thought that.”
In the meantime, Cheri made the rounds. She posted to Facebook groups, called veterinarian clinics and animal hospitals, and even reached out to pigeon clubs around the country to no avail.
Upon hearing her story, FOX17 reached out to the American Pigeon Racing Club out of Oklahoma City. Using their resources, they ran the tag and tracked the bird to a recreational pigeon club out of Highland Park, Texas, a suburb of Dallas.
The area is about 300 miles from Houston and didn’t experience anywhere near the same impact from Harvey. Local pigeon enthusiasts from West Michigan told us it was possible the bird was sold with its original tag to someone closer by, and escaped from there.
Cheri says the bird is very people-friendly and her family has seen it almost every day since it appeared last week.
“I’d like to think that maybe it came from Texas, and that’s really interesting,” she said. “I don’t really know and I’m really curious to find out where it’s’ come from.”’