If you've followed us from day one or even yesterday, you will have seen that we have a flock of White Rock Doves which are White Homers. We breed our own birds, occasionally buying some in from reputable breeders (Pigeon fanciers) to keep the blood lines healthy. Our flock have spacious and dry lofts which are cleaned regularly for them to roost at night. During the daytime, they are free to come and go as they please. (we keep them in a few days a year following treatments)
Open lofts means that the flock get the exercise they want to keep fit, but they also get very streetwise towards birds of prey. In fact it was only yesterday a hungry sparrowhawk came looking for dinner, but she was too slow thankfully for our birds, and they "escorted her off" into the distance, flying above her until she was out of sight. Their fitness and nutrition mean they are quick off the mark, and don't hang around once released at an event. They love their home, and all they are interested in is getting back there.
But sadly there are couples who prefer to buy their own doves for their weddings, and families for funerals. Usually the doves purchased are either fantail doves or garden doves, none of which have a great homing ability.
There was a post put up on facebook last week that has gone viral. The post did have some truths in it in as much as if you release fantails of garden doves, or any untrained bird, they will perish. What they failed to mention though is that they have no evidence the birds allegedly reported in were released at weddings. In fact, due to the very small percentage of people getting married that do release doves, it is highly unlikely this is the case in all reportings.
There are several other reasons "white birds" would get found wandering the streets.
1) Dovecotes are very popular at the moment, and people buy doves for their gardens often not knowing how to home them. In urban areas, cats will frighten them, and they take off, often just a little too far from home and get lost. We have rescued many of this type of loss. Been called to a house to collect, and then called back several days later by the keeper.
2) Young birds that have been removed from the nest by their parents or a stronger sibling. A parent will kill or remove a young bird if they know there is a defect within that young bird. Usually this is within days of it hatching, but sometimes it can be later when the bird is almost grown. If that young is weak, the stronger sibling may also edge it out, and the result is, that bird being lost disoriented, hungry and cant yet fly. Its nature, it happens. We do have wild white birds too!
3) Farmers and town councils often have times where they want to remove doves or pigeons from buildings. Sometimes they use poison, sometimes they will just block the access to the place the pigeons and doves roost and nest. They will find other accommodation elsewhere. Often there are young birds with them and this can also be the cause for wandering lost birds.
So without PROOF that these birds are from a wedding, we believe that the post should have given a more objective view on why birds are sometimes found. The post implied that all birds released at weddings perish, and that is simply not the case when you book a professional and caring company to supply you.
. All our birds have ID rings on them, and we have EVIDENCE that they do home, because those ID rings have year of hatching on them.
To add to this, for their claim that "it is no coincidence that its wedding season and white birds are being found", well wedding season is practically all year round now. Quieter in November, Jan & Feb but still busy for weddings 9 months of the year. Also just as many families release doves at funerals - there is not really such a thing as "dying season" apart from it tends to be busier for funerals in the winter - so to say birds are being found in wedding season is not really any evidence to back up this claim, as they are released all year round!
So yes, if anyone is releasing fantails we hope you get prosecuted for animal cruelty! We couldn't believe the Vatican did this, and also it was on the opening of the last world cup. We were astounded that people would use fantails!
So, if you want to release doves for your wedding or event, do as we have always advised and book a professional WHO ONLY USES WHITE ROCK DOVES - HOMERS!