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Last Updated: Saturday, 21 June, 2003, 16:21 GMT 17:21 UK
Star pigeon re-named after Blair
A pigeon
Billy might have stowed on a ship for part of his trip
A UK homing pigeon has been re-named Tony Blair in the US after he got lost and flew 3,321 miles across the Atlantic to New York.

Billy's owners had given him up for dead, as he was expected back at his Merseyside home on 6 June.

He had been released from Fougeres, France and was expected home seven hours later but failed to return.

The two-year-old bird's owners John and Maria Warren, from Bootle, feared he had collided with power lines, but Billy then turned up in New York.

British Airways has now offered to fly Billy back to the UK.

Mrs Warren said she was stunned to hear, last Thursday, that Billy had made a detour, and was safe and well on the US east coast, albeit rather exhausted.

Billy [is a] star in America and has been renamed Tony Blair for his 'guts and determination'
Billy's owner Maria Warren
Mrs Warren, 49, said: "We thought the worst. He's only a youngster and this was his first Channel race.

"We got a call on Thursday from the president of the Riverside Flying club in Liverpool and we just thought he was joking when he said Billy had been found in New York.

"He was found covered in mud and exhausted. He was taken to a pigeon fancier and his identification ring was recognised.

"Billy has become a star in America and has been renamed Tony Blair for his 'guts and determination'."

'Milly's missed him'

It was thought Billy might have stowed on a ship for part of the trip, Mrs Warren said, "but judging by the state of him he could have flown the whole way."

"We will be glad to have him home though - he's paired with a hen, Milly, and she has been wondering where he is."

A British Airways spokeswoman said: "It was such a great story we decided we could help.

"We will get him onto a direct flight to Manchester and he will arrive in the lap of luxury."

Billy is expected back in the UK next week, but will have to spend 32 days in quarantine before he can return to his loft.

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