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Release and Catch

March 11, 2001

Judy Rosen of Judy's Dovecote is one of the few Southern Californians who raises white racing pigeons to release rather than race. As such she has been a memorable part of events as diverse as the Rose Parade, a recent memorial service for Alaska Airlines crash victims and a romantic moment between pop music's former first couple, Sean "Puffy" Combs and Jennifer Lopez, before they broke up in mid-February.

"One of the nice things about what I do is I get to be the surprise," Rosen says.

Prices for a standard release of two dozen birds are about $350 to $400, depending on the distance and complexity of the route her birds must fly to her backyard in Northridge. But she works often enough to consider her 180 birds a career. Already she is booked through the spring wedding season.

For the Combs-Lopez interlude, Rosen says she was summoned unexpectedly about noon one day in late January. She packed her crates and zipped to the designated meeting point, where she was escorted to a West L.A. hideaway. At dusk, Combs beckoned Lopez to the balcony, and Rosen, hunkered down out of sight, released her birds. One hundred white pigeons fell immediately into a "lazy eights" formation, crisscrossing the sky with wings perfectly in sync.

"Only my birds know what went on between those two," says Rosen with a wink.

She couldn't hang around to find out. She hopped into her truck to race the birds home. It took the birds 20 minutes--25 minutes less than it took Rosen to drive. "I was stuck on the freeway."

Judy's Dovecote, (818) 885-0540.

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