DES MOINES, Iowa - Michael Oz is 19, but he's a pretty good magician. He's been practicing his magic act for most of his life, and his two doves are a crucial part of it.
"I pretty much work with them every day," he said.
But this year at the Iowa State Fair, where Oz has performed since 2007, his doves won't be a part of the show. That's because he was told he can't bring them due to the dangers of the avian flu outbreak across the state.
"When I first heard of avian flu, I had no idea it could affect me," he said.
But now, with a little more than a week to prepare, Oz is working on a replacement act for his doves. Though he admits he's sad his greatest feature can't be present this year, he feels worse for the farmers and FFA showers who can't bring their birds to the fair.
"For them to be taking that away, I feel terrible for [the farmers.] So, for me, myself, it's really affected me because I've worked my whole act around my birds. So I've had to completely re-do my act. So now, I'm here, you gotta make the best of the situation," he said.
Oz says organizers with the fair told him no birds are allowed this year for safety reasons; though he's an entertainment act, he says organizers told him they wanted to be fair in the bird restriction.
Oz will perform at the Iowa State Fair on Sunday, August 16. He says he may incorporate a "Life without Birds" theme into his magic act to both comically address the absence of his feathered friends and to pay respect to the farmers across the state who have suffered from the avian flu outbreak.