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Topic: Ethics of Dyeing Doves
Message: Posted by: daffydoug (Jan 26, 2004 11:08PM)
I wanted to know your feelings about the ethics of dying doves to create a more colorful act.

I have a feeling the topic will be controversial, although some of the top name dove acts use this. What say ye, gentlemen?
Message: Posted by: Bob Sanders (Jan 27, 2004 09:59AM)
What are the ethics of dyeing doves? I answer this question constantly on Dove Hotline.

Any adult male has learned that anytime he sees a sudden change in the coloring of a natural body cover, the thing to say is "Oh! That looks great!" Being honest is not a requirement here. But we are usually dealing with someone whose color change was self-inflicted. For doves that is not true and it changes the rules of engagement.

The colors actually are pretty most of the time. I have never personally been made aware of a dove’s death ever resulting from being dyed. The practice is as old as dyeing chicken biddies for Easter. Unfortunately, baby chicks were dipped and some died from the temperature change. (Baby chicks have to be kept warm.) Even worse, the left-overs were fed (sometimes live) to hogs. That practice of selling dyed chicks is illegal now in many states. Call your state department of agriculture to see what the law is in your state.

Forget ethics, the law may answer your question in some states. Incidentally, doves are usually considered agricultural birds for hunting purposes, if nothing else. From what I understand, that is the reason the US Post Office must accept them for shipment. They can reject other birds. You can mail your doves from one location to another in the USA.

(An interesting side note here is that the conservation departments and agriculture departments frequently mark birds in other ways that do hinder flight, color protection, balance, and breeding. That seems much more harmful than dyeing a caged bird.)

I’ve seen some good acts that were actually based upon the colors of the doves. Dan Sperry does a great color changing dove.I have also seen some good acts where the colored bird is the result of a skilled lighting tech. Watch the movie version of the Wizard of Oz and watch the ponies change color. The technology is hardly new in either case (dyeing or lighting).

Would I dye my doves? Unlikely, but there is no benefit to me either. They already match my white hair which I really just don’t want dyed green or pink. For me it is impractical. Ethically, I don’t have a pat answer. I grew up as a cowboy. The health and safety of animals is very important to me.

Maybe I’ll know when I get older? Good grief! Look at all those candles! Fire!

Bob Sanders
Magic By Sander
Message: Posted by: JustinDavid (Jan 27, 2004 12:13PM)
LOL excellent response Bob. As for coloring, I only use one colored bird in my act (now I KNOW I'm going to hear it for this :shucks:) She comes from a silk fountain, so I have her colored three different colors, to go along with the rainbow effect from the fountain. Anywho, being young I haven't really experienced the old school ways of dove magic. I know a few people were turned away from the magic castle decades ago for using a colored bird. It just wasn't considered right. Now, 30 years later, people are performing there with them all the time.

Referring back to what Bob said about this going on for eons, it's the same with anything else. Anytime that something is new, it either picks up right away, or it takes a long time to get used to. I don't think anyone is morally correct, just a matter of opinion. Good topic.
Message: Posted by: sperris (Jan 27, 2004 05:11PM)
I just got back from another week at the Castle and even I got hasseled by Irene (in a nice way) about my colored doves. It still happens, especially out that way because of PETA being pretty big out there. I just tell people they taste better that way and it horrifies them so they quit bugging me.

Sperris :stare:
Message: Posted by: daffydoug (Jan 27, 2004 05:31PM)
On 2004-01-27 10:59, Bob Sanders wrote:
Watch the movie version of the Wizard
of Oz and watch the ponies change color.


Bob, your answer was quite comprehensive and very detailed. It will give me much food for thought.

Now about the horse of a different color, I read the book The making of The wizard of Oz, and if my memory serves me here, the color change was actually accomplished by covering the horses with colored gelatin powder, like todays Jello.

They filmed the shot, and then had the horses for dessert. (I know, BAD joke.)

On 2004-01-27 18:11, sperris wrote:
I just got back from another week at the Castle and even I got hasseled by Irene (in a nice way) about my colored doves. It still happens, especially out that way because of PETA being pretty big out there. I just tell people they taste better that way and it horrifies them so they quit bugging me.

Sperris :stare:

That is precisely what I was thinking in my original post. That is why I mentioned the word controversial, because I figured if I asked the real question that was in my mind, that I would get slammed to kingdom come by a dozen guys who would tell me NEVRR to do that to my avarian friends. I have been slammed enough in other topics for my stand on Paul Harris's One and Only, and Max Maven's Four Face asssembly, that I didn't think I could take another one. Therefore I proceeded with caution.

The real question I had wanted to ask, is what is used to color the birds, and what is the technique?

I had tried at one time using food grade food coloring and a cotton ball, but met with resistance from the bird, which made it a long unpleasant process, not to mention a messy one. Also, the natural oil on the feathers seemed to repel the color. It took me a very long time to achieve a satisfactory result, and I am guessing there is a better way to do it. I just have no idea what it would be.
Message: Posted by: Bob Sanders (Jan 27, 2004 08:49PM)

I think you are right. But the lighting tech would call changing the color with the light "covering" or "bathing" the object with "gelatin" (the colored plate) put in front of the light. (You can make them of powder.)

But the truth is I wasn't there. And I'll never forgive them for that. It must have been great!

(Don't eat the blue horses. There is no blue food.)

Bob Sanders
Magic By Sander
Message: Posted by: JustinDavid (Jan 27, 2004 09:11PM)
Daffydoug, I simply take two tablespoons of white wine vinegar, mix it with a cup of water, and add whatever amount of food coloring I'd like. As dark as it looks in the water, it always comes out lighter. As for the vinegar, it breaks down the oil in their feathers.
Message: Posted by: zaubern (Jan 28, 2004 10:00PM)
Andy Amyx makes a pre-mixed color. Check out http://www.andyamyx.com I have used colored birds in my act, but after a while I realized I get the same reaction with both colored and un colored. So I stopped because it was too much work for me and the birds.
Message: Posted by: Leo B. Domapias (Jan 29, 2004 03:52AM)
Dove feathers are, by nature, waterproof. You’ll consume a lot of food coloring before you will get the correct color saturation if you apply the food dye alone.

Instead of vinegar (which I suppose leaves an odor), mix a small amount of hair shampoo with the food coloring. You have to experiment how much of each you need in a mixture to obtain the color saturation you want.

Ben Benjay
Manila, Philippines
Message: Posted by: Dave Scribner (Jan 29, 2004 05:41AM)
This subject has been discussed several times in this forum and everyone has their own method so here's mine again.

First, wash your bird twice with No Tears baby shampoo. This will remove all the oil. Next pat them dry with paper towels. Don't rub, just pat dry.

Put them in a box with plenty of paper towels on the bottom and make sure they are not in any draft. I put mine under a lamp so they don't chill. Also, if your using several colors, keep them in separate boxes.

Go to a pastry or cake decorating store and get some Professional Paste food coloring. Wear rubber gloves unless you want to look like the birds Apply the paste evenly to the bird working the color into all the feathers. Wipe away the excess and let them dry.

This is very safe for the birds and gives them very bright coloring.
Message: Posted by: daffydoug (Jan 29, 2004 08:28PM)
Thanks, fellas! Now the light is starting to come on!
Message: Posted by: Bill Palmer (Jan 31, 2004 11:36PM)
I worked several times with Alex Arizpe, who used dyed doves in his act. He used a food coloring to do the work. I think he got the info from the Encyclopedia of Dove Magic. Anyway, he never lost a dove due to the dye process. It is perfectly safe.
Message: Posted by: amagician (Feb 1, 2004 05:53AM)
At least you're asking the question which means you're thinking about the birds' welfare as well as the flak you might get from some humans.
If there are proven-on-the-bird products, I believe it's okay as long as you realise you'll still get the flak!
I asked my veterinarian when I was using doves years and and he was strongly against it, so I didn't dye them.
Maybe that would be an effective way to answer those critics that will listen to your reply to their complaints - ask a well-known veterinarian.
If you get an answer that you don't like, don't get rid of the birds.
Change your Vet! :rotf:
Message: Posted by: snilsson (Feb 1, 2004 09:41AM)
The real question is if your audience will accept colored doves. The answer might well be "no". Some audiences will not accept any animal being used for entertainment purposes. Know your audience and proceed with caution. You may have to kill your darlings. Ooops, that wasn't the right thing to say, was it.
Message: Posted by: JustinDavid (Feb 1, 2004 12:24PM)
I think if you use a mixed variation, they won't bother you. In my act I produce a white dove... then next I produce a red dove from the head of a rose. From then on out I either use all colored birds, or none at all. But it still shows them the natural color of the bird. And if you show that you love your birds on the stage..i.e. giving them a kiss, petting them.. showing some sort of affection to them, then the audience will know that you care.

Ben thanks for the shampoo tip, the vinegar does make them smell like a sub sandwich for a little while.

Message: Posted by: uknavynigel (Feb 10, 2004 03:02PM)
I don't perform or use doves in magic although this subject interests me, although some may say it is cruel to colour doves, if someone in your audience is gasping at the poor coloured doves and not wow how did that bird appear from that red handkerchef and wow its red aswell, then surely you have the wrong act or the wrong audience.
Message: Posted by: sperris (Feb 10, 2004 05:19PM)
I have discussed the idea of coloring doves with other dove magicians and what colors work best and look good, etc. It is nearly impossible to get a multi colored dove, although it has been done, it usually -in my honest opinion- looks like crap. There are some magicians out there right now who use several colors on one bird and I think it looks very unprofessional because they don't do a good job and the color smears and smudges and just looks vomitous. Solid colors are way better. As far as the colors to use is up to you, but from experiences combined myself and several friends concluded that using natural colors of birds is less likely to cause a problem. If you're using reds, blues, yellows, those are natural colors for every-day birds. Once you start getting into pastels of pinks, greens, oranges, etc. you run into an unatural looking case because those colors are usually associated with a breed of parrot. Just use caution and use your brain, I think too many younger magicians are trying to be original by combining colors and make tye-dyed birds and all other sorts of nonsense. Just think of the dove, its safety, and what your end result is. If you're just coloring a dove to have colored birds and you put all your time into coloring doves and getting them to look right and no time on your act....You're gonna suck big time. A colored dove should be a bonus, or a reward to yourself when you get your act down to where you want it and if it fits YOU and your character.

Message: Posted by: daffydoug (Feb 10, 2004 10:45PM)
Believe me, I would in no way give priority to the coloring of the birds over my practice and rehearsal time.
Message: Posted by: Daniel Faith (Feb 11, 2004 12:48AM)
I don't see where ethics even come in to play here.
You are merely coloring the doves. It doesn't harm them or cause them discomfort.
It's a preference. I know a magician that dyes his doves and think nothing of it. Personally, I would rather have white doves.
But like I said, It a preference.
Message: Posted by: DaveWomach (Feb 11, 2004 01:44AM)
On 2004-01-27 18:11, sperris wrote:
I just got back from another week at the Castle and even I got hasseled by Irene (in a nice way) about my colored doves. It still happens, especially out that way because of PETA being pretty big out there. I just tell people they taste better that way and it horrifies them so they quit bugging me.

Sperris :stare:

Just a note to anyone who TREATS THEIR ANIMALS WITH RESPECT, and has had the severe misfortune of having to deal with a member of this "organization" (PETA)... it is just that... an organization, not a government group. They have no authority. They are, using kind magic Café words... of no importance to anyone who is kind to their animals. Just assure the spokesman of this group that the animals are your main source for income, and you treat them like a child, not a prop. God knows if they were treated like some of your props, they'd all be dead.
Message: Posted by: sperris (Feb 11, 2004 10:04AM)
From my experiences the only thing the PETA folks will do is just keep asking questions and they get soooooooo annoying. Its just constantly "why do you have to color your birds", well there are effects in my act that are enhanced by colored birds. really it is totally safe uses a kind of food color that you feed to your kids and even you eat. "yes but why do you have to color them" *repeat same sentence above* "why are the doves colored though?" *repeat same sentence above* "how do you color them, is that tye die?" *repeat same sencence above* "So why do you feel you need to color your doves" -And it just goes on and on like that, you can never win with them or prove them wrong. They way I usually close the conversation is by saying something to the effect of how horse trainers have their horses, go to horse shows and that's how they make money. This is what I love doing, I've raised these birds since they were mere months old and most have lived past a dove's expected live span. etc. I just give them positives saying how they go everywhere with me...in the plane...fresh water...etc. In the eight years I've been doing doves I have only had two incidents where people have actually come up to me. You just have to keep ensuring them that the doves are fine and healthy, if they weren't -as Dave said above- they'd be dead already. If done properly, coloring the doves won't hurt them at all. Just be careful of putting two doves of different colors together because the coloring can smudge onto the other bird. If you have a yellow bird and a blue bird together, the yellow bird will start turning a green tint.

Message: Posted by: JustinDavid (Feb 11, 2004 01:20PM)
Very good points. I haven't been working with doves as long as you guys, so I've never experienced anyone questioning me about my colored doves.

daffydoug, have you tried coloring them yet?

Message: Posted by: Ron Reid (Feb 15, 2004 08:18PM)

Personally, I agree with Irene (and the late Bill) Larsen who say that it really is a shame when magicians choose to color their birds. White doves are so beautiful, it's really a shame to change them. It is also my understanding that the dyes are harmful to the doves - I remember an article about this subject by Irene and/or Bill in an old Genii. That by itself should be reason-enough not to color them.

Message: Posted by: sperris (Feb 15, 2004 10:32PM)
That's okay that you don't know me. Its okay that you haven't heard of me either because I don't think either of those issues has an effect on how I color my birds nor my decision about PETA. I don't expect you to know me or hear of me either so no worries, I haven't heard of you either. However I do color my birds the same way as some of the people you have heard of and would maybe like to know. I'd be more worried about some of the so-called Pro's who mis-treat their birds and parrots and produce them half naked because they pull their feathers from neglect than me painting a little food coloring on my birds. Yeah I'm only 19 but I've seen enough to know to stay away from too much magic. I've done my homework, I've read all the books and seen all the crappy videos. I like freaking broke tapes of Channing and Shimada and Cardini as I was growing up, those were who I looked up to not these new whip em' out as fast as you can on invisible harness folk. What you're saying to me is like me saying you don't like my purple hair and colored birds. But you're old so I'll take that into account.

[update/edit]...well now that Ron edited his post and took out a paragraph about me and womach ignore about half of what I posted earlier.
Message: Posted by: Dave Scribner (Feb 17, 2004 06:48AM)
If you're coloring your birds just to color them, then I tend to agree with "what's the point". But if you color them to blend into your act then that's a good thing. Greg Frewin juggles yellow tennis balls then throws them to the ground changing them to yellow doves. It would look strange to change them into white doves now wouldn't it?

Jason Byrne opens a ball of yellow playdough to produce a yellow bird. Again, it fits with the act.
Food coloring in just that. Food coloring. We eat food everyday that has been colored and it doesn't have a negative effect on us and it doesn't harm the birds either.

Look at General Grant. I don't think I've ever seen him produce a white dove. They're all colored and he has been doing this for a loooong time.

As David said, PETA is just another organization that happens to be a pain in the butt and I wouldn't worry about them. I know my birds are healthy and well cared for and to me, that's all that's necessary.
Message: Posted by: Bob Sanders (Feb 18, 2004 08:24PM)
You could ask the folks from PETA if they have any piercings or tattoos. Did they cut off their dog’s tail or trim his ears. People dock lambs’ tails, dehorn cattle, declaw cats and debeak baby chicks. We don’t do any of those things to stage animals. We don’t kill our rabbits testing cosmetics either. Should we catch up with the others? I even quit using my Flat Rabbit.

OK Dan, it’s time for dove to pizza! Pass samples out to the audience.

I ran for a statewide office years ago. I will never forget a long day in Birmingham where an irate woman about eight months pregnant relentlessly blew her killing cigarette smoke in my face and demanded to know if I planned to make the public utilities take a stand on abortion. Where do we get these people?

Bob Sanders
Magic By Sander
Message: Posted by: sperris (Feb 18, 2004 09:56PM)
Dove to pizza -hold the feathers is more like it. I'm just kidding Uncle Bob, well at least one person doesn't think I'm a "cocky, foolish, punk, who only cares about himself and doesn't treat his doves very well young man". ...I think that covered everything. That's messed up when you have to quit using a flat rabbit prop and you can get away with using the head chopper in a family show...
Message: Posted by: Bob Sanders (Feb 25, 2004 12:59AM)
Magic life is easy and fun. We leave people happy and entertained. Have you ever lived as a rodeo clown or contestant and had these people ask you if running from bulls hurts them? They ask! Rodeo bulls lead a good life too. It is not rare that the bullfighter is also in charge of security and even sleeps in the bullpen after the shows to protect the bulls from drunks and other "visitors". The only part an audience ever sees is the clown protecting the cowboy from the bull. He does both.

I never dyed a bull, but I doubt it would hurt him. The need was just never there. My favorite uncle was a rodeo producer. He taught me to protect bulls and cowboys because they were both sacred. We also enjoyed good steaks and bucking bulls that were hard to ride. Balance is an important concept.

Abusing doves or bulls or cowboys or children rank about the same to me. My doves are not dyed. It doesn’t fit my act. However, if it did fit my act to dye doves or bulls, I would do it unless it harmed the animal. I don’t believe the animal is hurt. I see more show animals hurt by neglect than attention. Accidents do happen. But I firmly believe that a dyed bird in safe hands is better off than a naturally colored bird in careless, abusive, or panicky hands. Ethically, there are people in our business that shouldn’t be allowed to use animals. I don’t think color has much to do with it. It is just a costume. I think we are majoring in the minors. That might also be translated into the notion that we are minoring in the majors.

As has been pointed out before, it is commendable that the question is asked and that the health and safety of the dove is considered. There is no evidence that I have ever seen that shows any indication that properly dyed doves suffer for health or safety because they have been colored. It does divert time, energy and other assets. Those are not ethically questioned. There may be states where it is simply against the law. Law and ethics are not the same thing.

Some good points have been raised. What difference does it make to the audience? Audiences are different. What fits my audience may not fit yours. A casino audience is different from a trade show audience and a school audience. The audiences at magic competitions are very different from lay audiences.

Dan is right. I don’t think he has ever seen me work. (That lucky soul! There are tapes but nothing should be commercially available.) I dropped the flat rabbit years ago but I do a guillotine segment in the two-hour show. I even use a power saw to saw someone in half. My audiences are more accepting of one than the other. Perhaps it because I show the human is unharmed at the end but the rabbit was simply gone. Maybe transpositions are more puzzling to the audience than a head chopping or sawing in half. But the decision was made because of the reactions of those buying the tickets. In shows that have a lot of children in the audience, I make sure that they see that the vanished birds are alive and well at the end of the show.

People who know very little about animals or magic are free to jump to erroneous conclusions, and as entertainers, we have to live with them. Why should it surprise us that they can misinterpret something? We depend on it!

Bob (and Uncle Bob to some)

Bob Sanders
Magic By Sander
Message: Posted by: g0thike (Feb 25, 2004 07:01PM)
A PETA person first confronted me about 5 years ago. So I realized, if I can’t beat them, might as well join them. I am a member of PETA for convince, I have a nice PETA card to pull out if I get confronted by animal rights activists. I would not call myself even an active member since I don’t their strong viewpoints or attend their meetings. I just keep my birds and animals safe and happy.

But even though I have a PETA card, some PETA people still confronted me. But I had a great response. I just asked them, “Do you eat meat?” and they all said, “Yes”. So I replied, “I am Vegan, I don’t eat meat or consume animal products because of my love and caring for animals. You people disgust me, you are not animal rights activists, and you are hypocrites”. They all looked stunned and said “What?” and I replied again, “Cows, pigs, chickens are animals and you are eating them. You are supporting the cruelty by the meat industry. You are wannabe animal rights activists and hypocrites, get away from me before I throw up”.

They left me alone after I started attacking them even more. I actually made one of the ladies cry. Then I finished the show, packed up and I enjoyed a steak dinner at the Sizzler.

Message: Posted by: Mr. Muggle (Mar 4, 2004 04:06AM)
On 2004-02-10 18:19, sperris wrote:
I have discussed the idea of coloring doves with other dove magicians and what colors work best and look good, etc. It is nearly impossible to get a multi colored dove, although it has been done, it usually -in my honest opinion- looks like crap. [/quote]

I was in a pet store the other day, looking at exotic birds. I found a small Mexican parrot, just a bit larger than my dove. He had 3 colors in all, with the primary color being a green body.

Reading your post, have you ever heard of anyone attempting to make their dove look like a parrot? I know this sound's silly, but I was talking with a friend about coloring birds just before seeing the parrot. The color pattern appeared to look really easy to duplicate, with the head and chest only being different colors.

I neither have the knowledge, or the experience at dying birds. I'm just curious, and looking for more information.

Nothing on coloring doves is found in my library.

Message: Posted by: sperris (Mar 4, 2004 12:26PM)
Yes, I know of one person who told me he tried to color his doves to look like a blue and gold macaw. I knew it wouldn't work since when you color a bird it isn't really permanent. It rubs off and smudges. As I guessed it he later told me it didn't work because the colors bled into each other and turned the bird brownish/green. Something people don't take into consideration when they color their doves is the way colors work when mixed with each other as well as when diluted or saturated. They just go out and try to color their doves with only doing a half-hearted attempt at researching. Then their birds look terrible, but they perform with them anyway, and laymen see them, which can send a bad message. ...just my thoughts anyway

Message: Posted by: Mr. Muggle (Mar 4, 2004 03:48PM)
Thanks Sperris. Im not going to color my birds, but was interested in the topic.

Message: Posted by: Michael Bourada (Mar 17, 2004 02:01AM)
I always thought that if you have a dove act with music, (that is somewhat up-tempo) then color could be used but if you are doing the classical magic, then I wouldn't worry color. And as for those annoying orgs. who bug you about animal respect, tell them that this is your living and they are your source of income, they are like your own children and are treated fairly and with respect. As a matter of fact you don't have to tell them anything, they are not the police.

-Michael Bourada

Experience the Magic