Magicians need dramatic flair, zest, and mass appeal.
That’s something you can’t achieve with a costume and nothing else.
Dove tricks have been a fan favorite for years, and thanks to a few slip-ups here and there, we can confidently get down to business and discuss this trick in-depth.
Do Magicians Use Real Doves in Their Tricks?
Yes, magicians actually use real doves during these tricks. Even when a magician is using the classic dove pan, there are real birds being used in these tricks.
So why do magicians use doves in the first place?
First and foremost, they’re ridiculously calm birds. You could do just about anything to a dove, and it will just sit there calmly, patiently waiting.
They’re not very intelligent, and so detecting danger isn’t high on their list of priorities.
Using a calm dove gives a magician the ability to do flashy things without having to perform much sleight of hand.
While it’s not a cheap method to get live doves and make them perform tricks with you, it’s rewarding when you see the reaction of the crowd.
How Expensive Are Doves?
Whew, now this is where we’re going to get into it.
I would love to just say the price varies, because of it doves (see what I did there?), but I spent the time pinpointing the exact costs you can expect to pay.
For one to two doves, it can cost you around $125 to $350.
It’s a ridiculous amount of money, but you just have to weigh that against how much you want to pull doves out at a magic act or not.
However, if you wanted to go full MGM Grand with your act and make it spectacular, you could do that without going into the thousands.
Once you want to release doves, which is most commonly performed at weddings, you become part of a very niche group of customers.
Not many people are like, “Hey, I got this Groupon code for dove releasing, I thought we could give it a shot.”
They need that business. So you’re often offered inexpensive upgrades to more doves, like a modest increase from $125 up to $200 for eight to twelve doves.
That’s quite a big jump, wouldn’t you say?
The reason they do this is that the one-two dove package, which is offered almost unanimously across all of these businesses, is designed to appeal to magicians.
If you’re releasing doves at a wedding or at a funeral, you’re not going to just get two of them.
In a way, you’re being targeted before you ever even need doves. They know their audience, and it’s a small one at that.
Revealing Darcy Oake’s Dove Trick
Darcy ended up on Britain’s Got Talent some time back, and one of his most famous tricks to date was making a pigeon appear out of thin air.
Well, that’s what he wanted you to believe anyway.
It’s not like there are a million possibilities for how this trick could have been pulled off, and the folks over at Brightside were able to debunk it rather quickly (which makes it common-pool magic, by the way).
Essentially, Darcy did the following:
- Put flash paper in the palm of his hand and enacted it, sending a burst of bright light out for all to see.
- Reaching into one of his wide wizard-looking sleeves, where he nudged the dove out from its hiding spot.
- The dove then sits on his hand, and it looks like he summoned the poor thing out of thin air. Boom—magic.
So why did it have people talking for months afterward?
Even though it was fairly simple to figure out, all things considered, it’s still pulling a dove out of your sleeve.
That means that Darcy had to spend loads of time with tons of doves to make this work, because even though they’re docile creatures, you still have to handle them properly or their instincts will take over.
I can’t imagine the nerve of walking out on stage and saying, “There’s a bird in my sleeve, and this is going to work.” Just picture yourself walking through that scenario.
The Dove Pan Trick Revealed
Before you get upset, this is going to have a safety explanation right after I talk about the trick.
Just hold on one minute before you worry about the doves, because I assure you, they’re fine.
A dove pan trick can be done with about five or so doves, a pan, a liner, and a table that the birds can sit inside of. They will sit inside of the pan, which will not be visible to the crowd.
You show them the liner, ensuring that everybody sees it, and then you put it down into the pan. Drop in some flash paper, and you have a distraction.
I recommend using a lot of flash paper, but also having a few clearly visible mirrors nearby to make the flash seem that much more fantastic.
The liner, which just held some flashy paper in it, can easily be pushed down and fall into the bin below where the doves are stored.
When the liner comes down, it will startle them and send them flying outward.
If anyone were to look inside of the pan, they’re just going to see a big empty space that resembles the liner, and be none the wiser.
Are Real Doves Endangered During Those Tricks?
Magicians are ethical people, and they’re not interested in putting animals or people in harm just in the name of having a really cool trick done that stuns a few people.
Not only is that unethical, but it’s also potentially punishable by law depending on the severity of how you would endanger those animals.
Real doves are used for tricks, but they’re kept in safe areas.
Even if you were to put some doves into a box with a loose-fitting lid (to allow air), they’re still going to have upwards of an hour of air between all of them. They’re going to be fine.
What About Volatile Liquids?
Standard dove pans are designed to be used with flash paper or something similar, but then there are much more complex systems that magicians will use to ignite volatile liquids.
These are just basically any liquids that don’t produce a poisonous toxin when set aflame, that can easily be put out just by moving it around.
However, it’s not the safest, and it’s not recommended.
While a skilled magician can do this without putting any doves in danger, it’s still a heightened risk that most of us do not want to take for the sake of a trick.
Where Can I Get Dove Pans?
Any online outlet or brick and mortar magic shop is going to supply them.
The tricky part is getting the cable cut out to hold the dove pan, and working with the liner until it’s a believable act.
At this point, you should also stock up on flash paper. You’re going to need a ton of it, even if it’s just for practicing.
Other Forms of the Dove Pan Trick
If you’re not getting a dove trick that’s built into a table, you might get a standard looking silver dove pan.
The same magic applies because the bottom is false and requires a liner to trick your spectators.
The difference is that these magicians will light a real piece of paper on fire in the liner, and closing the lid will put the flame out.
That lid connects to the liner and pulls it up to reveal the dove left in its place as it flies away.
This is the reason why if you see this trick performed in person, the lid is carefully picked up so you can’t see the underside of it.
Diversify Your Tricks
You can’t be a one-trick pony.
Adding doves to your act, while expensive, can be a fantastic way to close out a show and leave everyone with something to think about. To leave them with questions.
It’s critical to diversify your tricks, because eventually, you can align them into a show and stick with that proven acts for years to come.
Vegas, here we come.