A devastated pigeon racing enthusiast woke up to find his feathered friends stolen from their loft yesterday.
George Howie noticed 22 of his birds were missing when he went out to his garden to check on them at 6am.
The pensioner’s prize winning pigeons had just returned to Aberdeen from Thornton after their first race of the season hours before they vanished.
Mr Howie, who is in his 70s, fears he has been targeted by another enthusiast who was after his breeding stock.
He said: “I got up at 6am and saw that the end flap was open.
“I had three young birds in the end section. They put them together in the same nest and took the parents.
“They took stock birds and 10 or 11 racing birds, I’ve had some of them for about 13 years. They seem to have taken all the good ones, it must have been somebody who knows about birds.
“To me they’re priceless.”
Among the birds stolen were white grizzles and white pieds. Some were used in sprint races and others for flying long distance competitions.
Mr Howie, a retired safety officer from Auchmill Road, has kept pigeons since he was a schoolboy.
The Sunnybank Racing Pigeon Club member won his first competition in 1965, and has followed it with dozens more in the decades since.
He added: “The birds are my life, it keeps me going. It keeps me young.”
A spokeswoman from the Scottish Homing Union, the governing body for pigeon racing members, said it was an unusual theft.
She said: “I don’t know what value they would be to anybody else because they would have to be kept in. As soon as you let them go, they are going to go straight home because they’re homing pigeons.
“They would have had to have had baskets to take them away in and vehicles to transport them.
“If they have rings on them, nobody else could use them unless they have taken them away to breed from them.”
Police confirmed they were investigating the incident yesterday.
A Police Scotland spokesman said: “It has been reported to us and inquiries are ongoing.”