Detroit Free Press
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) From weddings to funerals even gender reveal parties, people are hiring professionals to release doves into the air. The price for a dove release starts about $150 and varies based on the number of birds, weather conditions and the event’s distance from their home.
Twenty-one white doves emerged from white wicker baskets on a recent afternoon in downtown Detroit and launched themselves into the air, drawing applause from people gathered below.
The birds, which are actually selectively bred homing pigeons, at first began heading south. Then their inborn navigational systems kicked in and the birds turned around and flew north, back toward their home 100 miles away in Saginaw.
It wasn’t long after that Phyllis Stevens, co-owner of Saginaw-based Dreamers White Dove Release, got into her car and started the same return journey. But she relied on Interstate 75 and her smartphone’s GPS.
By the time Stevens arrived home two hours after the release, 10 of her 21 birds were already there, waiting on the roof of the pigeon loft in her backyard.
“Every time I see it, it always amazes me how they know to get home,” Stevens said.
The white dove release business is reaching new heights of popularity in Michigan.
Bird handlers and business owners are doing multiple releases every week at events like weddings, funerals and high school proms. The latest trend is “gender reveals,” where partygoers look for a blue or a pink-painted dove to find out whether the expected baby is a boy or girl. (Handlers say the paint is safe and soon washes off.)
The most common bird release in Michigan is for funerals, these owners said.
“That lasting image of a dove taking off is far nicer I think than a shovel full of dirt,” said Joan Luther, owner of Winged Occasions dove release in Flat Rock.