I couldn't help but notice the letter you published April 28, regarding releasing doves for events. While it's true that the birds you mentioned would not survive in the wild, you did not tell the full story regarding dove releases.
The fact is, all over the world, professionals are using pure white homing pigeons for special events. Members of the White Dove Release Professionals follow a code of ethics regarding the safety and care of "rock doves." The group's release policy requires that these birds are carefully trained to return quickly and safely home to their well-managed lofts. Upon release, they most often beat their caretakers home.
When properly and ethically done, White Dove Release Professionals can provide a beautiful release. Please let your readers know they can go to www.white-dove-releases.com for further information.
- Lisa Knight, Nampa, Idaho
DEAR LISA: Apparently that letter and my response ruffled some feathers, so allow me to offer another suggestion regarding dove/pigeon releases: Always make sure to use a reputable company, and that the birds they release are white homing pigeons and not ringneck doves. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: It is too time-consuming and expensive to raise white doves and then throw them to a certain death. Anyone who would release a "true" white dove at an event is an idiot.
Now for some real "education." White doves released at weddings and special events are not really white doves, but are the larger racing pigeons. Smaller white doves are often displayed in decorative cages. When it's time to release the birds, the white racing pigeons are substituted and released. The average person doesn't know the difference, and the pigeons can find their way home over great distances.
- Pigeon/Dove Fancier in Oklahoma
DEAR ABBY: I have to admit I never thought twice about the release of white doves either - until I attended the funeral of an acquaintance. As the casket was being lowered into the ground, the family released a white dove to symbolize the spirit of the deceased ascending to heaven. The poor creature was confused and circled the area several times before flying toward a wooded area. At the same time, a large hawk was circling nearby. Thankfully we were all spared witnessing the kill, but I doubt that poor dove, with its snow-white feathers, lived to see the next morning.
- Margo in Zanesville, Ohio
DEAR ABBY: White pigeons are banded and pedigreed, and are able to survive in the wild if necessary. Sometimes they do become disoriented due to inclement weather, but barring cats, BB guns and hawks, they return home 98 percent of the time.
- Bob in Kentucky
DEAR ABBY: Allow me to inject a dose of reality. Until the invention of the telegraph, homing pigeons were the only reliable form of rapid communication. From the days of King Solomon to G.I. Joe, the pigeon corps was an important unit in every army. We love our birds and take good care of them. The white ringneck dove (much smaller) is the species that "unethical" individuals use for these purposes.
Anyone who would like more information should contact the American Racing Pigeon Union at www.pigeon.org. *
- Jerry Holt, Heaven Sent
White Dove Release