White doves symbolize love, peace, fidelity, prosperity, and good luck. It is said that if doves are seen on your wedding day, a happy home is assured.
What better way to make sure they are seen at your wedding, than to hire someone to bring some doves to your wedding and let them go. Everyone will see the white doves as they fly up, group together and then fly off together. What a beautiful sight!
Unfortunately, for the doves, this may mean a death sentence to them. White doves stand out and are easy prey for hawks. Because they are albino, their eyesight is not very good in the bright sun (which makes the prettiest picture) and even as the birds group together, they donít know which way to go to get home.
This is a picture of one of my doves. He has never had to fly distances, but he does get to fly in the 12 foot aviary that I keep him and another male dove along with my cockatiels.
Doves and pigeons belong to the same group of birds, and homing pigeons are known for their ability to fly many miles to return to their home. Some of the companies who advertise doves for release at wedding say that their birds are trained to return home, but this would only be possible if homing pigeons are used instead of doves. Doves do not have a homing instinct.
Most of the doves will be killed by a hawk, hit by a car or will starve. Because the doves are completely domesticated, they have lost all ability to feed in the wild and will not instinctively keep close to cover when hawks are present.
Instead of having these beautiful birds released at your wedding you could still see a dove by having dove decorations. It doesn't seem right to send them to death just because releasing them at a wedding will look good in the pictures.
I must add here that when I first wrote this article, I was all in favour of this practice because I obtained my information from the companies that release these birds at weddings. After a reader told me about a dove rescued by her daughter that was starving, 3 days after a wedding, I decided to research the subject better. Our webmaster, Lisa Shea confirmed this information in her article White Doves Ė A Wedding Tradition.
Then I went one step further & contacted Garrie Landry of Exotic Foreign Doves who confirmed all the reasons to not release these birds.
If you can find a company that does use white homing pigeons (pigeons are also called rock doves) you might still be able to have the same effect without causing needless death to doves. White pigeon doesn't sound as romantic as white dove, but pigeons do have a homing instinct.
I have been advised that there is a group called White Dove Release Professionals and another group called American White Dove Release Association and one of their guarantees is that they use white homing pigeons. They also indicate that if the weather conditions are not appropriate to enable the birds to safely return home, that they will not release them. This may mean that you would have to celebrate your wedding without the white birds flying away, but if the weather is not ideal, the pictures would not be the perfect pictures either.
If you deal with a company that has these guarantees, and you really want to have white birds released at your wedding, then please consider a company that offers the above guarantees. They each have a map at their website indicating where their members are located.
If you have any comments about this subject, please join in the forum discussion - links to the last three discussions are at the bottom of the page.