Is is possible to have the wrong doves for a wedding? Yes, yes a thousand times yes!
Just read the following; it was written by Cathy Locke and originally appeared in the Sacramento Bee on June 10, 2011.
Sad ending for wedding doves in McKinley Park
The problem: A flock of white doves soaring skyward provides a spectacular ending to a wedding ceremony, but the aftermath can be a sad spectacle of dead or starving birds unable to find their way home or fend for themselves.
Dell Richards lives near Sacramento's McKinley Park, a popular wedding venue. She said white doves released around Easter had not been trained to return to a home base. They have been found dead, injured or wandering in nearby yards.
A similar article which appeared in the July 28, 2009 NY Times' City Room goes further and provides a clear picture of what it looks like to come across ringneck doves that had been released as part of some kind of ceremony. This photo on the right was taken by Jennifer Chong, a licensed wildlife rehabilitation specialist who took part in the rescue, which took place in the borough of Flushing, Queens, New York. They were able to rescue 18 of the over 40 that had been released. What happened to the rest is anyone's guess.
This is a good example of something that I mentioned in my Wedding: What Doves? post from earlier in the month. It stems from the unscrupulous use by some, of ringneck doves for ceremonial releases. I mentioned it briefly in that post, but since July is the height of wedding season, it's bears repeating.
It is not uncommon to walk into your local pet store or go onto sites like Craig's List or Kijiji and see pure white doves for sale. More often than not (and pretty much exclusively when it comes to pet stores) these are actually ringneck doves: a type of dove that has absolutely no homing ability, and will most likely wind up dead, injured or starving before someone finds and rescues them.
How do you tell a ringneck dove apart from a white homing pigeon?
- Cere: the cere is the fleshy part that seems to sit atop the beak and has no feathers. This is where the nostrils are located. On ringneck doves, there is little to no cere, whereas homing pigeons have a very prominent cere that is whitish in colour.
- Beak: ringnecks have a very slim beak that appears to be a bit longer due to the lack of a cere. Homing pigeons have a thicker beak.
- Neck: As you can see in the photo, there is a marked difference in neck-size, more bulky on the homer and quite slender in the ringneck.
- Eye Color: While it is not impossible to see a white homing pigeon with red eyes, it IS uncommon. White ringnect doves are more likely to have them. When I say "red" eyes, it is more like the pink that you'd see in an albino rabbit. Homers are more likely to have a darker colour eye.
- Body Size: there is a marked difference in size between the homing pigeon and the ringneck dove. Ringnecks are much smaller framed than their noticeably bulkier homer counterparts.
- Legband: Legbands are used by reputable breeders to clearly identify each bird and allow them to trace its lineage. It also indicates that said breeder belongs to a network of other fanciers or breeders, all of whom promote the highest standards of care and conditions for their birds. These bands indicate the association to which the breeder belongs as well as a unique identifier number for the bird / breeder. If the bird gets lost (it DOES even happen with homers) and is found by someone, it allows the owner to be contacted. More often than not such bands are absent with ringneck doves.
Having said all of this, ringnecks do have their place in wedding displays. It is not uncommon for Dove Release professionals to use ringnecks in their display cages, rather than homers, since the ringnecks are a smaller and fit more easily in most cages.
If you are at all interested in the possibility of doing a dove release at your wedding, please, please, please be sure that the people that you are dealing with are using White Homing Pigeons and not ringneck doves.
Thanks for visiting. If you like this post and would like to stay on top of all posts you can subscribe to the RSS Feed by clicking the button below. You can also subscribe by email in the top right margin.