Two baby pigeons were flown home to the UK from the mid-Atlantic after they stowed away on the Royal Navy’s brand new £3 billion aircraft carrier.
The two 10 day old squabs were found by sailors on the HMS Queen Elizabeth, one of two brand new Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers joining Britain’s fleets.
A shocked sailor found the birds as they upped anchor and left Portsmouth harbour for the ship’s maiden journey across the pond to conduct ‘sea trials’.
They were found after the sailor heard tweeting, and once they were found they were made comfy and warm and a plan was hatched to get them home.
Members of the crew looked after the pair – named ‘F-35’ and ‘Lightning’ after the jet fighter – and fed them while transport was arranged to save them.
Their diet consisted of water and porridge fed through a syringe covered with a plastic glove to recreate how the birds get fed in the wild.
A flight carrying supplies was due to head back to southern England and so space was made and the two squabs took their first flight aboard a Merlin helicopter so they could go home.
They were taken in by the RSPCA and have been taken to the West Hatch animal centre near Taunton, Somerset, where the birds were to be treated and raised before they were released back into the wild.
Bel Deering, Manager of the RSPCA’s West Hatch Wildlife Centre in Taunton, Somerset said: ‘This little pair of baby pigeons are the first in my memory to be rescued from a Royal Navy warship.
‘While RSPCA West Hatch cared for more than 4,500 wild animals last year, from seals and gulls to otters and more than 300 pigeons, these two definitely win the prize for the most adventurous back story!
‘Our plan is to settle them into their new temporary home after giving them a thorough examination to pick up any problems which may need treating.
‘We’ll then care for them until they have built up their strength and are fit enough to be returned to the wild.
‘Our thanks go to the Royal Navy who went out of their way to rescue these two vulnerable stowaway youngsters.’
A spokesman for the Royal Navy said: ‘When HMS Queen Elizabeth left port two pigeon chicks (Squabs) were found in a nest secreted on board.
‘Out at sea they were parentless and the carrier’s crew have rallied to keep the birds alive; feeding them on porridge among other goodies.
‘The message for help went out and the Commando Helicopter Force’s 845 Naval Air Squadron was keen to oblige.
‘A Commando Merlin, which will be undertaking an already planned flight from the carrier to RNAS Yeovilton carried the chicks back to RNAS Yeovilton where they were inspected by the Station’s Bird Control Unit personnel before Rebecca Jones, who works for Air Traffic Control will personally take the birds to RSPCA West Hatch rescue centre near Taunton.
‘The RSPCA team, led by Dr Deering was on standby to take the birds into care.’