The first time I read Carl Hardesty's article on "The Hole" (Bulletin ~48, pages 12-13) I thought, "This guy is needling someone." Then I read it a few more times just to make sure. I don't think he's kidding. What he says is not at all funny for the roller fancy. He sums up his personal experience and observations with: "...I don't believe it possible, so please don’t say come to my place and see it."
The lad has been disenchanted and turned off. He has seen too much disparity between what he read or was told he should see and what he has actually seen. So, to explain the difference, he prepared some sketches to substantiate the conclusion he had already reached.
He has declined future invitations to come and see it. But we can't just cast the lad adrift believing that his pseudo-solution to a non-problem is valid. I certainly agree that if the hole were configured like a piece of pipe 3 to 4 inches long and one inch in diameter, right in the middle of the birds' back, we'd still be waiting for someone to report its existence. The reason it's been reported for so long is because it has been observed by so many roller fanciers everywhere. The thing is routine and normal for the birds. It's the only way they can spin comfortably.
The hole is there, all right. It isn't in the middle of the back, that's the bone plate, no joint there, and it isn't a "tunnel" 3 to 4 inches deep and one inch in diameter. The base of the hole is that tight little rump where the tail feathers are rooted. Right above the vent where the caudal vertebrae are, which is the only flexible part of the back. That spot is known as "the joint.
It's not a very exciting joint but that's the way things are sometimes. It also isn't 3 to 4 inches across. Should be less than two or it ain't a roller. The rest of the hole perimeter comes from the tail on one side and the neck and face on the other side. In a static position, that configuration wouldn't make a round hole. Things have to get in motion to do that. If you were to sketch it in the static position, it would look like a bagel with a humongous hernia. Or, you could envision it as an eccentric cam revolving around a fixed axis.
Both of those, the herniated bagel and the eccentric cam would look terrible revolving around a fixed point at a slow speed. But that's not what happens. What happens is exactly what happens when you go to a theater (theatre) to see "Star Wars." When the movie starts, you know dammed well that the screen is actually dark half the time because of; the shutter action with each frame advance by the projector.--But your eyes don't respond fast enough to pick up the-dark intervals while the light intervals linger on your retina.
If your eyes responded fast enough to register every dark interval too, you'd come out of the movie with a terrible headache and crossed eyes. So, you see, there's a definite advantage to being slow on the uptake in some things. But only some. What happens during a normal -spin is that the body bulk of the bird rotates around that open space over its rump fast enough and smoothly enough so that it becomes rounded off and so that it appears to be in the exact center of the bird's body. - Appears to be! It really isn't, obviously. Terrible thought! We can't even trust our eyes! Well, that's life. Things aren't always what they appear to be.
To make it even worse, the hole isn't one inch in diameter either. It's closer to two. I can't understand why some roller fancier’s -insist upon smaller holes. What kind of a complex is that? I mean... after all! For obvious reasons, the holes can't be seen when the kit is directly overhead--especially not when it isn't doing anything. But when you see birds spinning fast and smoothly, without hesitations jerking around, you can be sure the hole is there. When they're doing it right they make it look so easy and they never seem to get tired from doing it-that way.
Carl, I hope you will reconsider your position and agree to accept invitations to come and see it. I don't think any roller fancier would extend such an invitation just to make a damned fool of himself. Well, maybe I should take that back. Anyway, have at least one more go at it!
Hans Roettenbacher in the Sept-Oct 1983 IRA Bulletin 52.