Can you think of anything more elegant and impressive to commemorate your wedding than releasing a flock of pure white doves into the sky above?
Until the summer of 2015, it was not possible to humanely include this element in your North Fork or Hamptons celebration, but now Cutchogue-based Salt Air Farm on the North Fork has gathered a flock of 10 white homing pigeons who are ready to fly at a moment’s notice.
So, from Orient to Riverhead, and soon in the Hamptons, you can commemorate any special occasion with a dove release that is sure to delight everyone.
Couples looking to include a natural element in their wedding ceremony often consider the release of butterflies or doves. From a humane standpoint, the use of butterflies is a problem. Their packaging and delivery alone could kill them, and they often produce very discouraging results, anyway. A dove release, on the other hand, is a beautiful gesture with so much symbolism. And when they are in the care of a conscientious handler, like Salt Air Farm owners Prudence and Dan Heston, they will enjoy a long, healthy and pampered life.
The birds used for ceremonial releases are not actually doves, but white homing pigeons, and are bred and trained to find their way home after a release. Prudence and Dan recently acquired several birds from the Disney line, which are descended from Walt Disney’s original flock. Salt Air’s flock includes 10 fliers and several breeding pairs which all are ensconced in a swanky coop getting pampered while they await their next assignment.
Dan and Prudence have earned a stellar reputation for carefully using their farm to grow flowers and keep several beehives, so it’s a safe bet their birds will be well cared for and released only in safe conditions. That means anyone considering a dove release will have to work within a few limitations.
For now, the birds are only familiar with the North Fork, though ultimately their range is expected to extend up to 50 miles. But whatever the range, the birds must be released in daylight, since they do not fly at night, and they must have time to get home before dark.
Prudence and Dan are quite excited about their new flock, and it was a joy to meet the birds and see them in action. The breeding pairs were so sweet, showing interest in new visitors to the roost, and also showing off the bird version of PDA—nuzzling each other on the neck. They mate for life, so Prudence and Dan have named them to honor some of history’s and literature’s best-known couples, such as Adam and Eve, Romeo and Juliet (let’s hope they are not star-crossed) and Lizzie Bennett and Mr. Darcy.
The fliers put on a show, despite the 90-degree day, launching themselves from the coop and making several circles of various elevations over the farm and orchard before finally landing on the rooftop and slowly making their way back into the roost for shade and a bite to eat. A couple of stragglers seemed to enjoy their time in the sunshine walking and pecking their way across the rooftop until they were finally convinced to join the rest of the flock.
In addition to the dove releases, Salt Air farm provides floral and event design and is a farm venue for weddings and other special occasions. In the first season with the birds, the releases are an add-on to any existing services available for the 2015 season. Starting in 2016, the dove releases will be incorporated into some of their packages, and can be hired separately for release off-site to commemorate any occasion from weddings, birthdays and even funerals and memorial services.