SOME call pigeons “the rats of the sky”, but one is being sent to Oxfordshire with the Queen’s blessing this weekend.

She has donated one of her homing pigeons to be auctioned in aid of the Royal British Legion.

More than 70 birds will go under the hammer, although not literally, on Sunday. All have been donated by prominent homing pigeon owners.

Organiser and pigeon keeper Keith Shipperley said he was delighted the Queen had agreed to donate a bird.

He said: “It’s very rare to get one from her. We’re more than delighted. The person I spoke to had to go over and above to get it.

“Some of the other names on the list are top flyers, so it’s going to be interesting to see how it goes.”

He said it was hard to work out what the pigeon would fetch at the legion’s base in Edgecombe Road, Headington.

He said: “You sometimes get the rings being given away, but they’re obviously a lot more valuable if they’re attached to a bird.”

One of the rings, which identify birds, fetched more than £350 on eBay.

  • Viewing is 11am to 1pm on Sunday, followed by the auction, with Tony Cowan. For details call 01865 769738.