Wrong turn – Wayward pigeon lands in Ridge

January 16, 2015 Meaghan McGoldrick
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Bay Ridge resident and local artist Alicia Degener welcomed the New Year with a new-and-improved guest room. Little did she know that her first houseguest would be a wayward flyer pigeon from Red Bank, New Jersey, now appropriately nicknamed “Brooklyn.”

“There was a pigeon on our stoop that kept giving me meaningful looks every time I went in and out,” explained the mother of two who, on Wednesday, January 14, discovered a black, white and noticeably tame pigeon perched on her front steps.

“After it sat in the same spot for hours, I realized it had ID bands around its legs,” she told The Home Reporter. Her instinct, she said, was to post a photo of the pigeon to the Bay Ridge Facebook page, a move that led to a happy ending nobody saw coming.

“Tons of people helped me find who it belonged to,” Degener said, stressing that, from there, the bird’s story began to unravel.

Using the internet, the Ridgeite discovered that “Brooklyn” – formerly known as simply “#3016” – was a lost racing pigeon who’d flown 300 miles from home. His owner, Red Bank resident and well known pigeon racer Charlie Barbiere, is currently undergoing treatment for cancer and was unable to make the trip to Bay Ridge. Instead, he suggested Degener let the pigeon go, in hopes it would find its way home.

Degener refused.

“I felt weird about that so I told the Bay Ridge Facebook group and someone I didn’t know offered to give it a ride back to Red Bank,” she said.

That’s when Facebook user Bobbie Mui Pirro – a Ridge native and New Jersey resident just five minutes from Red Bank whose husband works in Sheepshead Bay – offered to bring “Brooklyn” home.

On Thursday, January 15, the bird sat shotgun with Pirro’s husband on an hour-long car-ride home.

“For me, it was a no brainer,” Pirro told this paper. “The bird was beautiful. I saw the post and I said, my husband has to come home anyway, so he’ll just have a passenger in the front seat.”

“Bay Ridge is really a neighborhood onto itself with a lot of caring people with spunky resourcefulness to get things done, even for pigeons,” said Degener, relieved that her first houseguest – who she admits she’d started to grow attached to – made it home safely.

Photos courtesy of Alicia Degener
Photos courtesy of Alicia Degener

This experience, she said, was truly unique.

“I think she will always have a place in all our Bay Ridge hearts regarding what a community can do for good,” Degener wrote on the original Facebook post which has since garnered close to 150 comments and 50 likes. “We did it just to help because it was the right thing to do. Even something as insignificant as a pigeon meant a lot and told a lot about a community.”

Facebook user Lauretta Camden agreed.

“What an awesome group of people here,” she wrote in a comment on the post. “I swear, I’ve got goosebumps, I am so touched by the caring and generosity you all have shown this wayward pigeon!”

As for Barbiere, he’s just happy to have his little piece of Brooklyn back home.

“He was very grateful,” said Pirro. “That bird had been missing for almost a month.”

“He advised me to play the lottery because I was so nice,” said Degener.

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