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(Rollers Not So Good As They Were) From
PIGEONS of ENGLAND, March 20, 1930
By Bill Pensom

Now we are getting some Roller news. Perhaps the time is opportune for some discussion on what performance is expected of a good Roller pigeon. Some fanciers consider the Roller is an improved bird to what it was twenty to thirty years ago. Myself, I do not think it has improved; in fact, I am inclined to think it has deteriorated. My ideal Roller is a bird that can roll tight like a ball for at least four or five yards without stopping, and to end that performance with what is known in Birmingham as a “twizzle.” Such shows the bird has some sort of control over itself, and also adds brilliance to its performance. It has been said that long Rollers are no good for competition, that they do not seem to get back to the kit after their performance, fly out of the kit, and kill themselves, etc. Such remarks I consider ridiculous, except when describing a bird which is no good whatever, and which we all get often. Our hobby would not be interesting if we had no duds at all.
I have conversed with many an old fancier of Rollers, and they all seem to be of the same opinion: that the Rollers of today are not near so good as they were years ago. They consider it is dying out, and that a tumbler or short performing bird is taking its place. It is not being displaced by a long way, except by some most ardent and enthusiastic competition flyers, on the ground that this class of bird (the shorter performer) is a more sure and regular performer, flies and packs closer together, and is not so dangerous. Certainly every praise is due to all these preservers of this class of bird, but I am of the opinion that the longer rolling bird has not been tried out, as yet, in real earnest for competition, except by a few, and brought down to such a fine standard as the shorter working bird.
We know that the deeper performers are more difficult to cultivate, but bred scientifically on the right lines, I do not see why they could not be cultivated in time. I have to admit myself that I have seen very few kits of long-rolling birds put up in competition that, from my point of view, were perfect. One kit in particular which I shall never forget was a kit of twenty birds put up in one competition to become eligible to fly for championship honors, which it won. To describe them is beyond me, except that they all flew close together, and when doing a turn or a break they must have fallen anything from twenty to forty feet, and on occasions twice that distance. They must also have made ten or twelve complete full turns in the fifteen minutes allowed. That was in the first competition. In the championship they were not so good. They fled [Compiler’s note: “fled” is Black Country dialect for “flew”] different, and did not perform so regular, but they were still good enough to win. That is why some fanciers do not care for deep Rollers: because they are not so certain as the shorter ones. The kit referred to was eventually lost. If they could have been kept, and their performances preserved, and other things bred for-regularity, etc.-I think it would have startled even the old-time Roller fanciers. Much can be said of the performances of the “shorter” working birds on the distance they fall while doing a turn, but I think there is little comparison when seeing a kit of deep Rollers break and then seeing a kit of “shorter” Rollers doing a turn. Then take a kit of deep Rollers flying on a day when they do not seem inclined to work much. You get a certain amount of satisfaction-in fact, a thrill-to see an individual bird come rolling at a terrific speed through the air. Such cannot be said of the “shorter” Rollers when in the same mood. I am told that in the old days competitions were made for the deep rolling, the number of times they rolled, and the style of flying of an individual bird. I think, therefore, that if you can get one good deep bird, it is possible to get another one to go with it. I have set myself to breed a strain of long Rollers that will fly and perform close together; in fact, to do everything appertaining to competition flying, combining good looks at the same time. The laugh is on me now, but time will tell. Anyone out for a change of breed, or a beginner, should give the Roller a trial. It would certainly find a permanent spot in any fancier’s heart if only he would. They are inexpensive to keep, easy to manage, and very docile, and the variety of colors found in these birds is astonishing; practically all the colors and markings known in the pigeon world. Little mention need be made of the well known Harborne Roller Pigeon Club and the good work it is doing for the fancy, and of which I am proud to be a member. Its name may not be of long standing, but the fanciers are some of the staunchest breeders that ever lived. Every credit is due to them for the way in which they preserve the interests of the Birmingham Roller. In conclusion, these lines are from an enthusiastic fancier young in years, and I hope anything I have written will be taken in the good sprit in which I have written. I have no wish to be antagonistic in any way towards anyone, but simply out for an even greater improvement in a great pigeon family.

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