White Wing Dove Connection
While "dove" is the term we use symbolically, the flocks are actually white homing pigeons. In fact, the word "pigeon" comes from the French, which when translated means "dove".
The white racing homers we use in dove releases, are descendants from the rock dove. The main distinguishing factor between doves and pigeons is that doves are generally smaller than pigeons. Homing pigeons helped greatly during the two World Wars. They were used as secret message dispatchers that returned to their lofts with messages on their legs in small cases sent by the troops. Many provided important details about where the allied and enemy forces were. Many people owe their lives to these birds. The most heroic recorded feat of a Racing Pigeon was from the late 1800's when a pigeon returned 55 days after being released from Africa to England. It has been estimated that the bird flew in the region of 7000 miles to get back, avoiding the desert where it instinctively knew no food or water would be found.
A miracle of nature enables them to find their way home from great distances. Keen senses of hearing, smell, and sight, and the ability to read magnetic fields are thought to be some of the tools they use to complete their successful journey home.These magnificent athletes in the sky have come about through man's intervention of using selective breeding over many thousands of years. Homing pigeons are selectively bred and are not the same as the pigeons you might see in the wild.
Doves are paired monogamously for life. Both the male and the female guard the nest and incubate two white eggs, with several clutches per year. The incubation period lasts about 18 days. The hatchlings are helpless, blind and downy. The young are able to fly approximately one month after they have been hatched.