A few months ago we talked about caring for our birds and even had the excitement of a new baby bird that was named Marshmallow Peep. Well Peep is growing up fast and has been under the care and training of my daughter Chelsea. Peep loves to be held and enjoys the attention of getting a workout from Chelsea. Handling the birds gets them comfortable with human contact and puts them at ease when they are used in a magic show.
Peep does a bit we call “walking the stairs”; this is simply done by having the bird perched on your index finger and having them step up to your index finger of the opposite hand. Repeating this process gives the impression of walking a flight of stairs. This is a nice showpiece to display the bird once it is produced from a magical apparatus. The benefit is that they actually are exercising by working their legs and they also flap their wings when stepping up to the higher perch. In general allowing the birds to be out of the cage and flapping their wings promotes a healthier bird.
We place the dove on our outstretched hand and lull them to sleep; they hold this position calmly until we set them upright again. This gives the impression that the bird is playing dead.
Believe it or not this is not that difficult to teach the doves as it seems to be a natural instinct for them to lie still when cradled on their back. Now remember, we have already worked extensively with our doves so they are relying on us not to harm them.
Finally, the big pay off of course is using your bird in a show. One of the easiest ways to produce a dove is with a dove pan; this is also very safe for the animal.
Step 1. Gently load the dove into the hiding chamber just prior to production, although they are safe in the compartment it is not kind to keep them cooped up too long.
Step 2. Show the bottom pan to be empty. Before the reveal, it is neat to add a little magic to the production; since it is winter a little sprinkle of fake snow in the pan adds a nice touch. This will take your simple production into a magical transformation.
Step 3. Place the lid (which is housing the dove) over the snow filled pan, wait a moment and then lift the lid to reveal the dove.
This is the time when you can show off the stair climbing bit to really wow the crowd before you send the bird off stage to have a little treat for their dedicated work.
We hope those of you who are working with live animals remember that these little critters are not just another prop but a living creature that needs proper care and attention. Also, not every bird will work well in a magic act, although doves by nature are calm not all of them enjoy being handled to the extent it takes to have them perform.