Frequently Asked Questions about having a White Dove Release
Are they pigeons, or are they doves?
The common pigeon is actually a type of dove known as the "Rock Dove". So technically speaking, the birds used in releases are doves. However, there is a huge difference between the white doves used in releases and regular doves.
**IMPORTANT** The ONLY type of birds that should be used for dove releases are well trained white RACING PIGEONS!!!
These birds have been bred for generations for their ability to fly home from distances of up to 600 miles. Beware of unethical businesses that use the smaller white "Ring Neck" doves for release. These are the doves you will often find in pet stores for under $20 dollars. Not only can they not find their way home, they cannot really fly more that a few feet! Any bird other than a racing pigeon will die when released into the wild, including white pigeons purchased from poultry farms.
My wedding is scheduled for 8:00pm, is that too late?
Basically, yes. Anyone that tells you it's "okay" to release at night should be viewed with caution! How late the birds should be released depends on the distance of the event and the home loft location. Well trained birds can fly at 55-60 mph and should be given adequate time to return home before darkness. They do not see well in the dark and need adequate light for flight, otherwise injuries are likely. The birds do not like to fly in the dark, will produce a very unappealing looking "release" if forced out at night (they actually will not want to come out of their baskets). Provided there is adequate natural lighting at the moment of release, the birds should be given time to return home, or at the very least enough light to sit down somewhere for the night. The birds should NEVER be released in the dark!
What about bad weather?
The birds should NEVER be released in foul weather! A quality release company will not want their birds released under such conditions and should have this stipulation mentioned in their contract. They will also return deposits and balances under such circumstances. Make sure to check for this!
How far can they fly?
Well trained,quality racing pigeon stock have a range of anywhere between 100 to 600 miles, depending on many variable factors such as weather, stock quality,etc. While further distances are possible, this would be for only for exceptional specimines. The key here is well trained quality stock, which is not all that common. While it will be hard for the layman to know the difference, generally those operators who also race their birds have these types of birds. Releases within 50 miles are generally safe provided good racing birds are used. Beware of anyone offering to ship birds to you for self release at exceptional distances. Despite what they may tell you, the likelyhood every bird returning home is remote!
Can I release them myself, or is it better to have a release coordinator?
While it is possible for anyone to open a box and let the birds go, having an experienced professional who is good at what they do at your event will very much enhance the most special day of your life. There is much more to this than simply showing up and opening the lid.... there is an "art" to it. Only experienced professionals understand bird behavior, timing, and what it take seperate the "ho hum" release from the phenominal release!