The story of Little Wing

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Carried in my warm sweater pocket

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seen with a full crop of food...

In the bird world Spring flings come early with mating and laying in January and February. It has to do with the increase in daylight. It is not unusual to find the "Rock Doves" in my loft going to nest even though temperatures do not very well support the tiny hatchlings survival in such cold weather. Nevertheless one day while doing my routine feed and watering, there on the floor of the loft not far from what was a makeshift nest was a naked featherless hatchling lying on the floor seemingly dead and quite cold. I picked up the small featherless apparently abandoned bird who was probably only maybe a week old old and put it in my hand discovering that there was still life in it. I held it for some 20-30 minutes until there was clearly a sign of life and blood flow returning.

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Snuggled like a little kangaroo

Occasionally for whatever reason, of which I do not know or understand, a parent bird will abandon it's young and this was one of them. There is no restocking of the nest for the parent had made it's decision and sometimes for good reason. Most often I allow mother nature and mother bird to take their own course. Mother knows best and the strong survive. This may be one of those rules of the animal kingdom where we should not intervene. However, this time I did and the small helpless cold bird came back to life in my warm hand on that very cold February day.

Once the small bird was warmed, hand feeding began, usually twice daily in the first week. Now I have hand fed many birds in my history of bird-keeping over the years and I must say that it can be a long process depending on the avian species.

Little Wing

Little Wing

The pigeon variety is actually a much shorter period until weening maybe about 6-8 weeks. This I am grateful for!

That afternoon was the beginning of my relationship to Little Wing, LW for short. I will say one thing, she/he (not sure yet) is one of the most photographed Rock Doves in my bird world environment and this story has only begun.

Balloons Blow...Don't Let Them Go!

It will be Earth Day this next Monday, April 22nd, 2013. We are raising awareness about the littering of helium balloons. We will be passing out flyers in our community this weekend advocating alternatives to releasing balloons. One of these, of course, is releasing white doves. We ask that you join us in our campaign and let people know BALLOONS BLOW...DON'T LET THEM GO!


Easter Sunrise white dove finale', Erwin, Tenn.

We have been honored for the second year to participate in the annual Easter Sunrise Service in Erwin, Tenn., a courtesy of Valley Funeral Home managed by funeral director, Mike Peterson. ValleyFHEasterSunrise.jpg3

I make my way in the dark to the NC/Tenn. overpass before dawn to arrive at Evergreen Cemetery just before the first light of the day. A small gathering of dedicated people, dressed warmly for the cold mountain temperatures and slight rain showers, are awaiting this meaningful Easter Sunrise Service. The small crowd all join in prayers and song to celebrate with enthusiasm in their voices. As Christians, there is a strong connection to the symbolic meaning of this holiday.

Michael Peterson awaits the right moment to release the white doves at the Easter Sunrise Service.

Michael Peterson awaits the right moment to release the white doves at the Easter Sunrise Service.

As the sun slowly rises over the mountains and the songs rise to the occasion, the finale of 20+ pure white doves are released from two white baskets symbolizing the joyous recognition of Christ arising.

All eyes are on the doves as they circle once, twice and or three times. There was a quiet feeling of gratitude as we all witnessed the doves join and fly off into the horizon.

And this is how Easter morning began...for one small group of worshipers in their community in Erwin, Tenn. this March 31st, 2013.

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A Special Dove Story...Update

Mareta 4-3-13

Mareta 4-3-13

Perhaps you read the previous post of this amazing story of the white dove that survived a hawk attack last month during a white dove release on March 9th, 2013. As I previously stated, occasionally there are attacks from predators and this is something we cannot avoid if these birds are given the freedom to fly, which is their nature and delight.

Groce Funeral Home graciously shared a version of this story on their Groce Funeral Home/facebook page if you are interested in reading it.

I would like to share the following exert from their post: Mrs. Morgan's daughter has written to us (Groce Funeral Home) and says, "Dale, I can't tell you how much this has meant to my family. God works in mysterious ways. This bird so represent's my mom's strength and fighting spirit. What a blessing!"

Mareta is continuing to gain strength each day since her incredible attack. She is a small dove, petite in size, yet shows great tenacity in her ability to recover from her almost fatal incident.

I saw Mareta the other day flying within the loft and enjoying the outside porch. Her wound, although visible, is healing quite well. I can see new pin feathers surrounding the affected area.

And just today I watched as Mareta ventured out for the first time since her attack from the loft into the yard to enjoy the wet grass from the rain with the other birds. Then suddenly in a moments time I saw her take flight with the flock.
Amazing! Wow, in just 3 weeks, Mareta is back at flying!
She circled twice but she knew her limits returning to the loft...for supper. What a spirit she has for survival! Yeah!

What happens to your online presence after you are gone?

Recently a discussion was going around about what advice you would give a teen about online safety. There was a report on accounts where the owner creator died. This brings up many questions that are surfacing regarding the online presence of the deceased.

Apparently few states have laws providing facebook access to accounts by spouses and children and literally there are 10s of thousands of them out there. What laws need to be created to protect the deceased and their families regarding cyber space?

So think about it, what happens to your online presence after you are gone?
Do you just live on in cyber land surviving countless facebook upgrades and live forever in cyberspace? And what are you relations going to find? grave stones1

How can family's legally access these accounts and make the appropriate changes to close them?
Should passwords be included in Wills and Testaments so accounts may be accessed more easily?
This is another reason to be aware of what you post online because it could wind up being your cyber memorial.

A special dove story...

ErwinTenn6-12 Occasionally I am asked if my birds (Rock Doves/White Homing Pigeons) do not make it home. I would not be honest if I said this never happens. It's a great big sky out there and my birds are flying in it on any given day.

As a farmer (bird breeder), there are going to be some losses naturally as it is a simple known fact that birds are part of the greater food chain, unfortunately. It has also been recorded that in nature birds do not often survive beyond their first year. They experience a very real threat of predators, weather conditions, the elements, sickness, starvation, and human intervention, any of which may contribute to their death.

Here in Woodfin, NC where I raise, breed, and train my birds, they are allowed to come and go freely from their loft on any given day unless we have an important ceremony to attend. Allowing them this freedom helps my birds to be healthier and more adept in nature and capable of out-flying their natural predators. On the other hand, being somewhat domesticated, they have the protection and safety of food and housing and a dedicated care taker, me. This does not change the fact that they share the sky with their greatest predator, the hawk. This means that occasionally a bird will be part of the food chain which is something we must learn to accept as farmers.

This leads me to share a very special story: On March 9th of this year I was asked to do a graveside service for an elderly woman who had passed away. Upon opening the final release basket, as planned, the small white dove who represented the spirit or soul of this beloved woman flew overhead swooping down. From a distance it appeared she had been taken down by a hawk attack. The three other birds released all made there way home safely. This was a very disheartening incident as some members of the family had seen the bird take a fall. Needless to say, I was quite upset, both for my bird and for this family.

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2 days after her attack

The hawk attack at a funeral service seldom if ever happens however it did happen this time. Following the service, my intuition told me to go look for the bird in the cemetery and luckily I found her. As I approached, I saw the hawk was standing on what I thought was a dead bird. Seeing me coming, the hawk took flight. Much to my surprise, I found the dove quite alive but with a serious hole in the front of her chest. I picked her up thinking she would pass before I got home. Oddly enough, she looked quite alert.
I drove home thinking that this seriously injured dove would not survive an hour. I put her in a warm safe pet container. Again I was surprised to find her quite alive and alert the next morning. After two days passed, she was eating, drinking water and appeared to be healing. This was a very good sign. Incredibly she had survived and now I suspected she would fully recuperate. At this point, I proceeded to contact the distraught family through the online guest book that Groce Funeral Home provided. I explained online that the dove who was attacked at Mareta Morgan's service had indeed survived. About a week later I was contacted by a very appreciative family member, Mareta's daughter. I told her that I named the dove after her mother who the dove had represented in the service. I felt she somehow became a symbol of Mareta's tenacity. Ms. Morgan's family member, Carol, agreed that this was an amazing turn of events.

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1 week later

She responded in an email, in her words: You see, my mom's hallmark trait was fighting through adversity and thriving despite all odds. You performed a beautiful service and we appreciated every moment of it. That bird is indeed a testament to mama's tenacity. Please do keep me posted about the winged "Mareta" - I can't tell you how much that picture made my whole week! Thanks Julia. You are wonderful. I hope that one day I can find something to do that means so much to people when they are grieving. Carol

Today, March 21st, 2013

Today, March 21st, 2013

In conclusion I would like to add that this has also been an amazing experience for me. Through the symbolism of this dove and her amazing recovery, this story holds a very special meaning. Maybe it is about trusting my intuition. Maybe it's about survival. It tells me about the spirit that thrives in spite of all odds. It reminded me to follow my instinct and intuition. I think we can each find our own meaning here. I have found mine.

I am happy to report that Mareta, the dove, is now flying in her loft, sitting on the open porch and enjoying her flock and family once again, making a complete and full recovery. And I am so happy to share this incredible story that has a happy ending because sometimes we can find happy endings even in loss. I would like to offer my sincere condolences to Mareta Morgan's family for their loss. And I hope that somehow they have found peace in some small way by this story. I thank them for allowing me to tell it. Julia Gaunt of Asheville White Dove Releases

How To Handle Grief

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Good Grief...and it's misconceptions

Last year I was going through divorce and experienced some of the heartfelt emotions and sadness related to letting go and moving on. In that process I decided to research grieving both for my own sake and to have a better understanding of the families I serve through providing the white dove releases. What I discovered was that I had this preconceived misconception that "time heals all". What I learned was that grieving, like healing, is personal and individual and that no two people experience it exactly alike. And I learned that grief can have a lifelong negative effect on our capacity for happiness. th (5)

I also discovered some of the most common incorrect ideas that you may have been influenced to believe about dealing with sad, painful, and and negative emotions are as follows:

  • Don't feel bad - can someone else really tell us how we should feel?
  • Replace the loss - do you think if we just grab on to something else, we will somehow feel better?
  • Grieve alone - who ever said we need to do this all alone? and why?
  • Time heals all wound s - one of the biggest misconceptions because it's not how much time passes but what we do with that time to heal.
  • Be strong - how did being strong and sucking it up really ever help in the long run?
  • Keep busy - maybe if we just keep busy, we won't have to feel anything and that will somehow help.

We may all know someone who for whatever reason is still grieving maybe years or decades after having loss someone. For whatever reason they have not been able to embrace moving on. However they, like anyone, can begin to embrace the process of healing when they are ready to and there is a lot of help and information available to help them.

One book I found to be very helpful is called The Grief Recovery Handbook, The Action Program for Moving Beyond Death, Divorce, and Other Losses...including Health, Career, and Faith by John W. James and Russel Friedman, founders of the Grief Recovery Institute and authors of When Children Grieve. This book gives you a step by step method for recovering from grief and regaining energy and spontaneity and provides specific actions needed to move beyond loss.


Come to find out, grieving is not just about time after all, it's about what we do with that time.

Dove Release vs. Balloon Release You Decide

download I have always thought that balloons could not be a natural or safe way to celebrate any event. I would never consider throwing plastic or the likes of it on the ground or out my car window knowing that I would be polluting the very planet I live on. So why would I intentionally release a balloon with a string attached to it, in the sky...and forget that what goes up must come down?

Many people love watching balloons fade off into the horizon at celebrations whether they are funerals, birthdays, or parades. There is something sweet about witnessing the air currents carry ones prayers and wishes symbolically attached to the balloons into the sky with nature's wind current slowly carrying them up and away until you can no longer view them. I have personally witnessed how endearing this can be especially for a family suffering from the loss of a loved one. However at what cost is this symbolism and what will remain of the balloon when it finally makes it's way back to earth?

Would you like to know more about why balloons are not the best choice? dove & mtn.

Read more at the following link where a couple of beach roaming women decided to do something about educating people about the real hazards of releasing balloons. Apparently they personally witnessed with their own eyes the kind of damage "balloon remains" can cause wildlife and habitats.

Think twice next time you are considering releasing something in the sky, think about the birds, the one's you could release (who are trained to come home) and the one's you may kill as a result of releasing those balloons.

Balloons Blow ...Don't let them go!