Releasing Doves For Ceremonies: Where They Go Afterwards, And Why?

Have you ever attended ceremony where they release some doves into the sky? That moment looks graceful, right? This ceremony is kind of common in our society from all over the world. Doves, usually in white color, are used in many special occasions, as a symbol of love, peace, serenity, or as messengers for decades. In ancient Greece and Rome, for example, white doves were given as a gift because they symbolized white doves as honesty, loyalty, and devotion.

The most common ceremonies with realeasing white doves in it is wedding ceremony. During the event, usually the groom would give a dove to the bride as a symbol of promise to take care of the family, a symbol of peace in their home and throughout their lives together as a couple, or as a way to extend the luck and good wishes to their beloved ones from the guests. Besides, white doves are also traditionally used as a symbol of homeward flight of the spirit in funerals ceremony. It might vary in different cultures across the globe, but the main point is the ceremony includes releasing some doves to represent something meaningful or important.

Maybe, you wonder what happens after the doves are released? Where do they go after the ceremony? Do they live freely in the wild and find a new home, just like they are migrating somewhere new?

Releasing doves in ceremony might look magnificent and graceful. There is also some thrilling experience when you are the one who releases it into the sky and sees them fly away. However, there is some debate about this activity. Some people say it is okay as long as the doves are well-trained and handled to the professionals. Some others say that this activity is damaging and hurting the doves. 

Here is some insight for you to answer the question.

Releasing Doves For Ceremonies: Where They Go Afterwards, And Why?

A white pigeon, or a release dove, ia a rock dove bred for small size and resemble the white dove. This pretty bird actually has albinism, which makes them stand out in its habitats. Most of them are domesticated ring-necked doves than have been bred as pets.

Here’s where the problems and debates begin: white doves might be killed afterwards

Ring-necked doves do not have the ability to come back home safety or also known as homing ability at all. Since they are raised for centuries as domesticated birds, they don’t have proper skills or instincts to survive in the wild or for urban survival. So, they are considered to be way too fragile to be used as a dove releases because the high number of frequencies of being killed in car accidents or by predators before they return back to their home, or simply died because they are starved to death.

Just like we already talked before, their pretty color, which is pure white, unfortunately, put them in the spotlight when they are in the natural habitat. This situation makes them be easily targeted by predators like other birds such as hawks, seagulls, and ravens, or other species like cats, raccoons, and rats. 

For short, releasing ring-necked doves to the wild is not only to celebrate your weddings but it also a mark to celebrate the death sentence of the dove itself. Not that ‘graceful’ anymore, right?

This issue sparks many protests to the release doves companies especially from animal rescuer because a high number of injured and killed doves and they suggest to not to release doves for any ceremony at all.

Changing the white doves with homing pigeons

The companies that provide this service at events or ceremony then try to find the solution by changing the white doves with white homing pigeon, which is look alike but are slightly larger than the ‘true’ dove one. 

The homing pigeons are called rock doves or rock pigeons. Usually, the companies will train these homing pigeons so after they are released in the ceremony, they can find their way back home or fly back to the place where they are kept in immediately.

The trained homing pigeons are good navigators. They can find their way back over distances as far as 600 miles. Moreover, even if they don’t get all the way back, they do have more instinct and skills to survive in the wild or urban wild rather than the ring-necked dove ones. 

However, something that worth to be noted is that not every pigeon is homing pigeons. It all depends on how they are raised. Pigeons are one of the smart birds. Again, they are able to go back even after they have traveled far like over 600 miles from their home. But still, they have to be well-trained first to make them familiar with their surrounding areas if we want them to find their way back. They also have to only be released on a clear day because they cannot navigate after the sun sets or after dark.

Until this point, we know that homing pigeon can travel way back home after they released in the ceremony. Now the question is:

How do they do that? Do they have GPS or something?

Well, they do have their own ‘GPS’. Scientists used to believe that iron cells in the birds’ beaks that helped them to navigate, or for short, has the same function like a compass pointing to true north. But then, newer studies tried to investigate the function of proteins in pigeons’ retinas which are believed to be the right reason how they are able to navigate themselves., where the protein may let them see the earth’s magnetic field from the sun position –which is why they can only release in a clear day, not after dark. That sounds pretty cool, right?

That’s all the information about where do doves go after ceremony. May it feed up your curiosity!