It is with much pleasure I read Mr. W. B. Carter’s notes from New Zealand. I was particularly interested to see he is interested in Flying Tumblers (performing). Mr. Carter’s question as to whether tumbling and rolling is the same? My answer is: No. I can only conclude, unfortunately, that you have not yet seen a Roller.
There are several varieties of tumbling pigeons in existence, but the most clever and fascinating performer of all is, no doubt, the true Birmingham Roller. All these varieties come under the same heading, Flying Tumblers. Why, I cannot quite understand except, perhaps that common and performing Tumblers and Rollers are identical in type and color. The performances, however, are totally different.
Flying Tumblers are birds which, when performing, make all their clever and erratic movements, detached, for several years through the air. The Roller, on the other hand, rolls solid like a spinning ball, for a considerable distance through the air in such a way that, while rolling, it appears like a cricket ball with a small hole in the center, and recovers itself with a series of detached performances similar to the Tumbler.
Tumblers and Rollers are flown chiefly in kits of twenty to twenty-five. The main feature of this is that these birds all tumble or all roll together, gathering themselves, and again mounting to repeat the same performance. (September 10, 1930). Most Roller fanciers should now be fully occupied with the breeding and rearing of youngsters.
Everyone has my best wishes for a successful season. When the youngsters are about four to five weeks old they should be separated from the old ones, when they will soon learn to do for themselves. At six weeks old they should be ready to put out, and every attention is needed to break them to their surroundings.
If a few old birds are let out to fly, and when they drop play the young ones about with them (they should be kept on the hungry side), little difficulty will be experienced in breaking them in. When you are satisfied they know where they live, the next thing is to get them to fly by stirring them up with a few good old birds. When they reach the age of about twelve to fourteen weeks, if the stock were good, they should show signs of rolling near to perfection.
This period, in my opinion, is the most critical time for your future sport. Care should be taken to watch for the duds, which are at times difficult to detect, because when doing a turn every bird seems to roll or do something. It is that something we watch for. It is easy to pick out the best birds, but not so easy to find the duds. There may appear to be no duds among them, but there are.
It is comparatively easy to get a kit of young birds to do a turn, and some fanciers are perhaps satisfied with such, but that is far from having a first class kit of Rollers. A good kit of Rollers is only got by judiciously sorting out the best birds and keeping them on their own, even if you can only pick out half or less of the number started.
Much harm can be done to a kit of Rollers by letting them go on their own way, not sorting them out at this period as mentioned. Another important point to watch is the weather. Young birds should not be liberated in rough weather, because in wind they are apt to develop a nasty swing while flying, which, once they develop, they never forget, and their good performances are finished.
Whether they enjoy it or not, I do not know, but they race up to a point, and turn back like lightning, similar to the fly enjoyed by a large kit of Tipplers. If they do develop it, there is no cure, and the best place for them is under a piecrust, or they should be put down for stock. Therefore, it can easily be seen how your year’s work can be ruined by letting your birds out at an early age in windy weather.
Another matter I should like to point out is the feeding. There is no doubt that proper feeding is the only way to succeed with a stud of pigeons. You can take it from me; there are no secrets in feeding. It only comes by experience, and if fanciers would only pay more attention to feeding than merely buying mixed corn, better sport would result.
One thing I am certain of is that they should be fed with each sort of grain separate. I should like to hear other fanciers’ views on this subject. Another point I am deeply interested in is the showing of Rollers. I see one of our American correspondents is in fear of the day when we shall fix a standard for showing. I see no danger whatever.
The breed is too old established for its performances for it to be spoilt by a suggested show standard. We must admit that beauty upholds anything, and I am convinced that the Roller Fancy is yet in its infancy. I say breed for good looks as well as performances; it can be done. The rolling tendency, in my opinion, is too well transmitted into the breed to give cause for anxiety for spoiling by introducing good looks as well.
I have had many good performers that were really ugly, and I feared I might spoil the performances of their offspring by trying to breed beauty, buy my opinion has altered. It is just as easy to combine good looks with performances, as it is to breed for performances only. I would point out that I do not advocate the use of a cross, far from it.
It is certain that I should not lose sight of breeding, or keeping only the best performers, even if I failed to breed a good-looking bird. Except for a few cases in recent months, it is about the only breed that is kept shy of the show pen. I am speaking of the British Roller and not the Oriental, or West of England Tumbler.
There are many who keep Rollers and Tumblers simply for the pleasure they derive from them, with no thought for improvements. Fanciers must admit that the pigeon Fancy, as a whole, is today far more pleasing than it was years ago. The news items, tips, and practically everything that is known about our hobby has been put before the Fancy through the medium of pigeons. It is a paper that is worthy of greater support.
Such literature was not available in the old days to help those pioneer fanciers, and who make our hobby more easy and interesting by giving their experiences. To these I offer my humble thanks. I should like to mention that I have had marvelously good results from every point by careful inbreeding, and I am convinced that, as in all livestock, inbreeding in Rollers is the way to success.
I have proved it both with performances and good looks. How would Mr. G. Storey like another bird like his rosette winners with yellow eyes, which is truly a nice bird? I congratulate him on its success. What is Mr. G. Mannering doing these days? We have no news. We have lately been asked for some idea of a standard for Rollers, so below I give my opinion on same.
My ideal Roller, taken as a whole, must be well balanced in all properties, a nice medium sized bird, with full, round chest, tail well shut, appearing as if it was only one feather; legs well placed and rather short, with small feet and devoid of feathers, keel shallow to medium depth, nice round head, with yellow or white eyes, surrounded by a very fine cere.
The neck should be rather thick in keeping with the body. I like purity and richness of colour and regularity of markings. The feathers should be broad, fair length in wing tips, and these about half to three-quarters of an inch from end of tail.
The secondaries should overlap and be a fair length, well covered with small feathers; birds with good secondaries and feather generally, can stay and fly with little effort, being more buoyant, which must certainly aid the vigorous performances of a good pigeon. (October 4, 1930).
From Pigeons of England, September 10,1930 and October 4,1930