VANCOUVER, British Columbia, June 26 (UPI) -- Bird rescuers in Canada said a racing pigeon that set out on a 600-mile journey in Japan took a 5,000-mile detour to British Columbia.
Maj Birch, founder of the Mountainaire Avian Rescue Society, said the 1-year-old bird set off May 10 along with 8,000 other racers from the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido and turned up emaciated and dehydrated last week on a Canadian air force base on Vancouver Island, ABC News reported Wednesday.
"He may have landed on ships where there was no food, maybe rode on the ship until he felt like he could fly some more," Birch said of the bird.
Hiroyasu Takasu, the bird's owner, said he was relieved to find the avian survived, but decided not to have it returned to Japan to spare it the strain of airline travel.
"I was so relieved he was found alive," Takasu said. "[Birds] usually reach their limit in a week, with no food or water. This is a superior pigeon."
The pigeon is being adopted by the Mid-Island Racing Club in Nanaimo.
Birch said it is not uncommon for young pigeons, which navigate using the planet's magnetic fields, to get lost during races.
"We've had other racing pigeons from Japan [land here] before," Birch said. "This time, it was like 'Oh, here's another one.'"