Frequently asked questions

Q. Why can't your doves fly in the rain or in windy conditions?

A. Our doves are much smaller and more delicate than their cousins, the pigeons.  Their plumage is not as robust or waterproofed which means they can get waterlogged easily.  This is what makes it more difficult for them to fly in heavy rain.

Also, as previously explained, the fact that they are small and light means that extremely high winds can easily blow our doves off course and therefore lose their bearings of home as they are flying back from a release.

We would never allow our birds to be released during a thunderstorm.

Q. Why does being foggy affect the possibility of a dove release?

A. All homing birds need to be able to see where they are going to navigate their way home so if weather conditions are misty or foggy or there is a very low cloud cover then a release would not be possible.

Q. Why is it not possible to release your doves after dusk?

A. As previously mentioned, because the doves are homing birds and need to be able to see where they are going to fly home, if a release is requested too close to dusk and our birds need to fly a long distance, we would not be able to accomodate your needs.

We always ask that you choose your release time carefully for this reason.

Our doves are extremely precious to us and we would seriously consider not allowing our doves to be released in any of the above conditions because it would compromise their safety.  We would, of course, offer a full refund if a booked release were unable to take place due to any adverse condition

Q. How long does it take for your doves to reach home?

A. It depends of course on how far away from home our doves are when they are released.  Classic Doves covers a fifty mile radius of Havant, Hampshire but if a release were to take place from the farthest distance it normally takes the birds just over an hour to get back to their lofts.

Q. Have you ever released doves that don't make it home safely?

A. Sometimes, for their own reasons, we may have doves who choose to come back the day following their release, or even a few days later.  More often than not, when they do arrive home, they have sandy feet so we are assuming they had just fancied a jaunt to the beach before coming home!

Of course, we do also have a dove who never comes home and this could be for a number of reasons.  The most likely two scenarios are that either it has been caught by a bird of prey, probably a sparrow hawk or a peregrine falcoln with young to feed, or it may have flown into powerlines which of course stretch the length and breadth of the UK.  Fortunately, this doesn't happen too often although we are always very sad when it does.

Q. Do any of your doves arrive home injured and if so what can you do for them?

A. We do occasionally have a bird come home with an injury.  Mostly, these injuries are not life threatening and a couple of weeks of rest and recuperation, with a little tlc thrown in too, generally sees it back on it's feet (or should that be wings!) and in good health once again.

If a dove ever arrives home with a serious injury then we have to sometimes make the decision as to whether, sadly, euthanasia is in the best interests of the bird.

Q. Why does no-one ever see a 'baby' pigeon or dove in the wild?

A. When our doves start to breed they lay two eggs over two days.  The parents take it in turns to sit on the eggs, the hen bird during the night and the cock bird during the day.  They sit on the eggs for eighteen days before the baby bird starts to 'chip' out. Once hatched, the babies (or 'squeakers' as they are affectionately known due to the noise they make until adulthood) are looked after in just the same way by the parent birds and so kept warm and fed until they start to develop their feathers.  The adult birds then leave their chicks for short periods of time, only returning to feed them and obviously to sit on them all night to keep them warm! The babies are fully fledged and able to leave the nest within about 3 weeks having grown incredibly much bigger and looking remarkably the same as an adult bird!

Therefore, the reason no-one ever sees a 'baby' pigeon in the wild is because of the extremely short amount of time it takes for them to progress from hatching to being fully fledged and flying the nest!

Q. Which innoculations do your doves receive and how often are they innoculated?

We innoculate our doves annually against Paramyxovirus to prevent this debilitating disease from affecting our flock.   We also treat our birds regularly with medication to prevent canker, coccidiosis and worms.

Q. Can you supply dove feathers as memorablia?

A. Classic Doves have often been asked for feathers as a way of remembering the dove release which has taken place at various events. In light of this we are now able to provide 'Memories' cards.

These consist of one or two white dove feather(s) mounted on a card with details of the occasion inscribed on the reverse.  Alternatively, we can print an inscription of your choosing on the reverse for you.  Of course the back of the card can always be left blank if you prefer, for you to record your own thoughts!

Don't worry, all the feathers used come from our very own doves collected during their natural moult.

Q. What are the doves fed on?

Our doves receive best quality feed consisting predominantly of corn but including maple peas, popcorn maize, red & white dari, wheat, barley, mung beans, safflower, linseed and white & blue peas.   They also receive pellets, which contain maize, linseed, wheat, naked oats and soya plus an added vitamin and mineral formulation.  As well as these foods, our doves are provided with pots of grit which they eat and is stored in their 'crop'.  This allows easier digestion of the food, because it acts as a 'grinder' for the ingested corn.

Q. Can coloured ribbons be attached to the doves legs before a release to co-ordinate with a wedding theme?

A. We would not attach anything to our doves prior to their release as it could potentially cause harm to the birds should they need to land for a while or perhaps roost overnight prior to coming home.  The ribbons, or any other adornment, may become caught on branches of trees or wire fences and prevent the dove from continuing on it's journey.  If our doves were unable to free themselves then they would probably die of exposure or hunger if they were not discovered by anyone.

The safety and well being of our doves is of the utmost importance to us and takes precedence over everything else.

Q. Why can't your fantail doves be released?

A. Fantail doves are very pretty to look at but are not particularly good flyers, especially over distance.  They are not exactly streamlined birds with their beautiful 'fan' tails so find it much more difficult to fly than our doves that don't have quite such amazing posteriors! We have found that the fantail doves are much happier living in their aviary and parading their wonderful tailpiece in front of the camera in display cages rather than trying to fly back from fifty miles away after a release!  Of course, they are let out to go flying around their home regularly, so they do get some aviation excercise!

Q. Where do your doves live?

A. Our doves live in beautiful hand built bespoke 'lofts' in our garden.   The security doors of all the lofts are opened every morning to reveal wire mesh doors which means they have an idyllic outlook into an oasis of flowers as well as allowing lots of fresh air and sunlight into their homes. They are let out for excercise each day and upon their return they take great delight in pecking around amongst the rosemary, thyme, mint and various other herbs also planted in the garden!  They have their own pots of lettuce to forage in too, especially grown for that purpose!

The lofts are cleaned every day, there is clean, fresh water provided for them every day and they are fed daily also.  Then each evening after they've retired to their nest boxes, excercised, fed and watered the security doors are shut and locked again to keep them safe from harm.

Q. Will your doves 'make a mess' on my wedding dress or in my hand?

A. Our doves have NEVER made any sort of mess whilst being handled by a bride or anyone else for that matter.  We have been handing our doves out to brides for over seven years now and to this day not one of them has 'poo-ed' on a wedding dress or in anyone's hand!

There is a school of thought that insists the doves are unable to perform this particular function unless they are standing on the ground, so being held means that it is impossible for it to happen!

However, there is also a certain amount of care taken by us to try to ensure it doesn't happen.  For instance, about an hour before leaving home to attend your wedding day release, the doves lofts are cleaned, the birds chosen for the release are removed to their travelling crates and then fresh food and water is placed in the loft ready for their return after the release.

This way, any food from the day before will have already passed through their system making it less likely that there will be any 'accidents' during the release!

Don't worry - our doves are not starved in any way to ensure their return, which is a popular misconception!

Our birds are important to us and we would never do anything that may harm them in any way.  They lead a very happy and healthy life with us which is why they come back every time.  If they were not happy, then they would not keep returning over and over again!