White Release Dove.

A Release Dove refers to any breed of Domestic Pigeon used for ceremonial release. Release Doves are often used to commemorate important milestones of life and offerings of hope at weddings and birthdays and as representing the soul's final journey at funerals.[1] They are also released at grand openings, sporting events, and many outdoor gatherings.[2]

The preferred type of Release Doves are homing pigeons, a member of the Rock Pigeon family, and some strains are specifically bred for ceremonial release. White Homing pigeons are preferable to ringneck doves for ceremonial release because ringneck doves lack homing ability and may not survive in the wild.

Dove ceremonies Edit

Release Dove handlers each offer their own unique list of release ceremonies to choose from. Some companies will offer either untrained homers, ringnecks, or other types of pigeon or dove. Those types of birds are likely to end up in the claws of a hawk, owl or cat, since they are unable to survive on their own in the wild.[1]

Common wedding release ceremoniesEdit

  • the "Hand Release" in which the bride and groom hold two doves which are then released together
  • the "Flurry" or "flock release" in which the bride and groom release two birds by hand or from a box and then a larger group of doves are released shortly afterward to join them in the sky.

Common memorial release ceremoniesEdit

  • the "Spirit" in which a single dove is released,
  • the "Trinity" in which three doves are released,
  • the "12 Dove" in which a single dove is first released, followed by twelve doves.

Types of White Doves and Pigeons Used for Release Edit

Four types of birds have traditionally been used for ceremonial release.

White Ringneck Doves Edit

Ringneck Doves are often smaller than pigeons. However, they are a bad choice for ceremonial release because they lack homing skills and do not return to their homes. Ringneck Doves are not native to North America and most cannot survive in the wild. Unfortunately, they are easily found for sale in pet stores by people who don't realize that releasing a Ringneck Dove will almost certainly result in its death.

Homing Pigeons Edit

There are many breeds of homing pigeons, often called "Thoroughbreds of the Sky". Colored homing pigeons are often used for ceremonial release when white pigeons are not needed or not available. The most common breed of homing pigeon is bred for racing, and typically flies 300 to 600 miles in a race. The earliest homing pigeons were not used for racing, but to carry messages over long distances in a short amount of time. Today, long-distance homing pigeons fly 1000 miles or more.

White homing pigeon

Many of these birds are used for the release industry as well as for racing

White Racing Pigeons Edit

White Racing Pigeons are often used for ceremonial release. They are typically bigger and heavier than a Release Dove as their primary breeding focus has been racing speed. They are judged and selected for how quickly they return home. A breed of white racing homer called the Belgian Pletinckx can be used for white dove release ceremonies as they make good racers.[3]

It should be noted that although many people refer to the white homing pigeon as "racing pigeons", not all white ceremonial release pigeons are used for racing. A racing pigeon is different only in that it is bred for the sport of Pigeon Racing and breeders select for speed, as well as homing ability; they are in fact the same type of bird.


One strain of White Homing Pigeon, and most common, is the Stielbacht.

White Dove Release Professional Associations Edit

Cite error: <ref> tags exist, but no <references/> tag was found