A reader contacted me recently to say that he had found a homing pigeon with a band on its leg. "It was weak and could not fly when we found it, but, after keeping it in a dog carrier in our house and feeding it wild bird seed for two weeks, it is now fine,'' wrote Michael West of Manorville. However, when the family tried to turn it loose to allow it to fly back home, it would not leave.

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"It hangs out on our back porch all day long and actually tries to get into our house at night, West says, adding that he'd like to return the bird but cannot figure out the letters and numbers on its leg band. Most likely, this is a young bird that got lost in a race or a training flight. Some pigeon keepers put bands on their birds with their contact info, but obviously this owner did not. The letters on the band are probably an abbreviation of the pigeon club the bird's owner belongs to. The club issues the bands to the breeders, who then put them on their baby birds. The only way to trace the bird's owner is to figure out the name of the pigeon club that the abbreviation stands for, then contact the club president or secretary to see what member the band was issued to

One place to start your investigation is nassausuffolkpigeonclub.com. Otherwise -- unless the bird figures out its own way home -- it looks like the West family now has a pet pigeon.