We are always asked why they don't fly away - but of course, once they are 'homed' to their house or cote, and their feeding stand, they just stay. The dove cote itself is situated in a protected part of the yard, quite near the koi pond,so water is always available. Right behind is the lookout - a tall, dead tree that is the home to our bee hive and used as a roost to survey all.
Beautiful aren't they? But over time our numbers dwindled for one reason or another and so we needed to buy in some new birds and 'home' them, which is a bit of a process, but worth the time and effort when you finally free them.
We use star pickets to stake a wire fence around the dovecote and feeding stand, leaving a makeshift gate to come and go from. Then we cover the lot with bird netting, tying it down securely so no roaming cats can get in, making sure the birds have an adequate flight path to the feeding stand and the ground. And that's it for 6 weeks! Then, hopefully when we remove it all - the birds stay.
We set them free after six and a bit weeks, one Friday afternoon. They flew up into the sky where they hovered for a few moments, then flew off. We weren't too worried until the wind started blowing a gale not long after they flew off. Boy, our timing really sucked this time, as the wind blew harder and it got dark, and our doves were nowhere to be seen. We lay in bed that night, listening to the wind blowing over pots and generally reeking havok, and wondered where our poor birds were and if we would see them again.
The next morning it was raining and windy - and still no sign of the doves :( We felt so bad that we had let them out before a storm and cursed our poor judgement. We stayed in a lot that Sunday, watching Game of Thrones, as it was bitterly cold outside, so it wasn't until we went out late in the afternoon that we discovered the doves had found their way home! Three weeks later all is well as the doves discover the joys of flying, bathing on the stones in the pond and walking about on the lawns and gardens. They love their new home - and why wouldn't they, it's beautiful when the roses are out.
You can see more of Bloomfield's roses here http://rozgrowsbest.blogspot.com.au/2015/10/its-rose-time-at-bloomfield.html