Sometimes, homing pigeons become lost. Often, these birds are not used to finding food and water on their own, making them ill-equipped for survival in the wild. If you've found a banded pigeon, offer it water and seed and a safe box or cage in which to rest. After 24 hours, you can release the bird, and he should find his way home. If the bird is unable to fly away, you will need to contact the owner.
Read and record the band I.D. on the bird's leg. Band numbers consist of a series of letters and numbers.
Note the first few letters. These indicate the national organization that has registered the bird. In North America, the band will read AU (American Racing Pigeon Union), IF (International Federation of American Homing Pigeon Fanciers), CU (Canadian Racing Pigeon Union), NPA (National Pigeon Association), ADA (American Dove Association,) NBRC (National Birmingham Roller Club) or IPB (Independent Pigeon Breeders).
Note the first two numbers, which is the year the bird was hatched, banded and registered.
Note the letters after the date. These letters represent the pigeon club which has registered the bird.
Note the last numbers on the band. This number is unique to each pigeon within its club.
Consult the website for the organization with which the bird is registered. Many have a database allowing you to find the pigeon's owner. Other organizations have a contact person within the organization who will trace the owner on your behalf.
Sometimes owners simply band the bird with the owner's name, phone and address. In this case, finding the pigeon's owner is easy.
If the bird carries a band with letters other than those listed above, it may be privately banded through feed stores or other outlets. If this is the case, check local feed stores or see if the local Humane Society can help you.