SAILORS discovered a rather unusual stowaway taking refuge in the hangar of a Royal Navy helicopter carrier.
Those onboard HMS Ocean were surprised to find a young pigeon alone, scared and looking rather worse-for-wear while they were conducting training off the south west coast of England.
The caring sailors named the fledgling Steve and set about nursing him back to health.
As Steve is just a young fledgling and there were no parents to be seen, he was in need of a bit of tender loving care and needed feeding by hand.
When the ship returned to shore at Southampton, one of the crew handed Steve over to RSPCA inspector Tina Ward, who took him to be cared for at the RSPCA’s Stubbington Ark, in Fareham.
Insp Ward said: ‘This was certainly one of the most unusual places we’ve collected a bird from.
‘The crew, especially Sam, the crew member who looked after Steve, and the captain, went above and beyond to care for this young bird who wouldn’t have survived without their help.
‘We can’t thank them enough for their efforts.
‘The future looks good for Steve – he just needs to build his strength to get ready for the wild and he can do that in our specialist aviaries now that he’s eating for himself.’
Once Steve is fit enough, he will be transferred to continue his rehabilitation at the West Hatch Wildlife Centre in Taunton, Somerset.
Pigeons are usually renowned for their outstanding navigational abilities, using a range of skills, such as using the sun as a guide and an internal ‘magnetic compass’.
They are usually social animals, travelling in flocks of 20 to 30.
Steve is known commonly as a feral pigeon, normally found around towns and cities, which would not normally travel more than a few miles from their home.
An expert from the RSPB said it was most likely that Steve had hatched on the ship, before it set off, which is why it was so young and far from home.