"Carrier" pigeons nest on HMS Queen Elizabeth

A pair of baby "carrier" pigeons have been found in a secret nest aboard HMS Queen Elizabeth as she sailed for the USA.

'F-35' and 'Lightning' were rescued by the crew and flown ashore to be handed over to the RSPCA.

The chicks were discovered – with no sign of their mother– shortly after the ship left Portsmouth on Saturday.

The chicks, estimated to be around ten days old, were found huddled together by a sailor who heard tweeting coming from a remote ledge high up on one of the ship’s boat decks.

A careful rescue plan was put in place and the chicks were brought into the warmth by sailors from the ship’s seamanship department.

After much research on ‘what baby pigeons eat’, they have been fed at regular intervals over 24 hours, with a mix of porridge and warm water, administered from a syringe provided by the ship’s Medical Centre with the tip of a latex glove attached.

The chicks’ beaks eagerly popped through a hole in the tip, hungrily sucking the porridge out, emulating the way they feed from their parents.

While our focus for the deployment is getting the new jets onboard for the first time, we are also prepared to conduct humanitarian relief, should we be called upon to do so. We just didn’t think that would be quite so soon

Lieutenant Commander Lindsey Waudby

Sailors watched on proudly as the stowaways flew for the very first time – albeit hitching a ride in a Royal Navy Merlin Mk4 helicopter, from 845 Naval Air Squadron, RNAS Yeovilton.

The squadron embarked in the ship today to take part in ‘WESTLANT 18’, HMS Queen Elizabeth’s maiden voyage across the Atlantic where she will embark F-35B Lightning fighter jets for the very first time for trials.

The chicks, christened ‘F-35’ and ‘Lightning’ by crew, were flown by a helicopter heading back to RNAS Yeovilton in Somerset, then handed over to the RSPCA at its rescue centre in West Hatch near Taunton.

“While our focus for the deployment is getting the new jets onboard for the first time, we are also prepared to conduct humanitarian relief, should we be called upon to do so. We just didn’t think that would be quite so soon!” said Queen Elizabeth’s Lieutenant Commander Lindsey Waudby.