A pigeon has turned up 4,000 miles away from home in the US after getting lost racing back to Tyneside.
Bob the racing pigeon set off from Guernsey in the Channel Islands three weeks ago and was supposed to race back to his home in the north east of England.
The journey should have taken around 10 hours, but the bird went missing.
Until an elderly man found the plucky bird in his garden in Mexia, Monroe County, Alabama, USA, on Wednesday.
He said it “would not leave” so called Monroe County Alabama Animal Shelter, and they used the bird’s bands and microchip to find the astonished owner, back in the UK.
A spokesperson for the charity said: “He is doing good. Enjoying his food for sure.”
They added: “We had a elderly gentleman ask us for help.
“He had a pigeon with bands show up at his Mexia home.
“The pigeon would not leave he decided to seek help.
“Crew member Monica Leigh Morris followed the man to his home and was able to safely catch this beautiful bird.
“After arriving back at the shelter both Monica and another crew member Megan Bryan started working on tracking down the owner.
“They were able to get the numbers off the band, but also used our microchip scanner to help track down a webpage called North of England Homing Union.
“The ladies follow the instructions and were immediately contacted back by the owner – 4000 miles away in North East of England!
“We are currently working on a game plan to return this champion pigeon to its owner, which was extremely happy to hear from us.”
They said the bird was a little underweight, and had oil marks on its feathers, but was otherwise healthy.
The bird is understood to be worth £1,000 and the BBC reported it belongs to Alan Todd, from Winlaton, Tyne and Wear.
Alan Todd, 60, a retired financial adviser from Blaydon, Tyne and Wear, said Bob was a “special bird”.
He said he’ll do whatever it takes to bring him back to the UK – but estimates it will cost between £2,500 and £3,000.
Alan said Bob was donated to him by a pal – who has since died – for a charity raffle he held to raise money for Marie Curie charity.
His sister Gillian died from the disease in 2018, and the fundraiser raised £5,500.
He said: “I’ll get him back one way or another.
“It’s a special pigeon.”
He said he feared the worst when Bob didn’t return from the race back to the north east.
“Something went wrong,” he said.
“When a pigeon goes missing you always worry about what could have happened.
“Sometimes they end up dead.
“When I got the email to say he had been found it was so strange.
“Initially I thought it was in Ireland, but then I found out it was America. It’s incredible.
“Maybe he got caught in a thunderstorm over the Channel and he’s found his way on to a boat going the other way.”