Wednesday, November 17, 2010

How do you train white doves?

When ever we do a white dove release it is going to be inevitable that some will ask how do you train the white doves to come home?  So I thought this might be a good question to start with.  Before we get into training it is important that you have birds that are trainable, in other words having youngsters that are related to birds that have a good homing instinct.  My white pigeons are related to racing pigeons of which some have raced 500 miles on the day.  As you recall white doves that are used for ceremonies are rock doves better known as homing pigeons. So to expect my birds to be trainable for a 100 miles is not a great expectation.  So breeding is the first step to successful training.

The egg takes 18 days to hatch and the young bird stays in the nest roughly 30 days before the parents kick them out to start another clutch of eggs.  I remove the young and put them in a cage so I can observe the youngsters to make sure they are eating on their own.  In a week to 10 days after I feel confident they are eating on their own they go to the young bird loft.  The loft is a 4x8 shed like building used for settling the youngsters.

When the birds are 40 to 50 days old they are very curious of their surroundings.  On the loft is a landing board.  For the first two weeks that they are in the loft they are caged on top of the landing board.  It is done for two reasons, first being caged on the landing board they are able to view their surroundings  in safety from hawks or other animals of prey.  Second the loft has an entrance where the birds can go in but they cant go out, this time gets them comfortable with the bob system so when they are finally given free flight they feel comfortable in getting into the loft.

When the birds are 60-70 days old they are given free flight.  They are placed on the landing board with no restrictions.  For the first couple of days they rush into the loft, a few days later they start flying in the trees, top of the roof, they stay pretty close to the house.  In 7-10 days I want the birds to be flying, some times it takes a little persuasion so I have a long bamboo pole with a red flag to keep them flying but anything that keeps the birds up can be used.  At this time I introduce the training crate to the birds.  A training crate is a canvas box with a dowel top, capable of holding 20 youngsters.  The birds get used to being crated and transported.  So I crate the birds and release them in the front yard where they can see their loft and get used to the process to feel comfortable.

As the days continue the birds fly further from the house out of sight.  When the birds are gone for 45 min we start to road train.  by the way when the birds are gone for that long we call it routing this is the process that the birds start learning their surroundings and learn to fly as a group.  The first training toss is 1 mile from the loft.  As the birds are released they are observed for how well they group and how quickly they get to the loft. If it is a good toss we will toss in the opposite direction again one mile, this toss is repeated in all four directions.

We repeat this process jumping the distance to 5 miles, 10 miles, 25 miles and 50 miles.  Once the birds are trained out to the distances we want we keep the birds conditioned.  Conditioning is done through exercise and diet .  If we have a wedding or event that is greater than 50 miles we train to the location of the event to make sure the birds are comfortable when they are released.  If you have any questions on this topic or any subject having to deal with the our white pigeons email me at

Monday, November 15, 2010

Purpose of setting this Blog Up

Often times when we do weddings or funerals questions arise about the birds or how others utilize the birds in their services.  What we will try to accomplish is to address the questions most frequently asked and show what others are doing to incorporate the birds.  If you have questions, or you have had doves used at your wedding or observed the use of white doves that had impressed you please email me at

The area we service is NJ and some area of PA and NY.  The birds we use are "rock doves" better known as homing pigeons.  These birds are trained out to a distance of 100 miles in either direction from their home base of Creamridge NJ, just as a reference point we are 2 miles west of Great Adventure.  These birds are used because of their ability to return home after their release where they are cared for. Domestic ring neck doves are unable to survive the wild and the release of these birds at a ceremony is certain death, either by starvation or become a food source to other animals such as hawks and cats.  So please if nothing else when you look for white doves make sure they are homing pigeons..  In the blog we can touch on things to look for when locating a handler for a ceremony, its important to minimize the possibilities of things going wrong and we do want the safety of the birds to be in consideration

I heard this quote and as I get older I believe it to be true that "Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the number of moments that take our breath away!"and that is what a white dove release does.  It takes a wedding ceremony up another level, to where people remember and talk about it  long after the wedding service.  A release at the grave site where a loved one releases a dove in memory of the one who has died brings comfort to those who are left behind that's what a dove release does.  Share your thoughts email me at