note: This collection of articles was compiled by my mentor in Rollers,
Dan J. Ouellette for the bulletin of the Performing Roller Association
in 1988. Few copies of this collection survive today and one would need
to do much research and editing to put a collection
like this together for our own use. The Roller World is greatly indebted to Dan for his contributions and I am proud to call him "mentor". - 11-18-00)
HOLE AND NO HOLE
There have been numerous writings on the subject of the hole that is sometimes seen in our performing rollers. There are also many fanciers that believe the faster, tighter rollers will not show the hole. This bulletin will cover both of these opinions. Itm going to start this subject out with something that was written around 1875 by Mr. Ludlow, the famous artist, judge and fancierof England, for Fulton's Book of Pigeons.
is what Mr. Ludlow had to say about the Roller pigeon:
"Rollers are those which at every exhibition of their roiling powerspass through an~unaccountable number of backward evolutions or somersaults, in such quick succession as to appear like a falling ball. Most fanciers are satisfied if they come through the kit as a ring, but when they appear in a solid form, it is known their con-volutions are performed vith still greater velocity. A good Roller should fairly roll 20 feet. There are lots who descend by a series of treble or more somersaults to a greater distance, but the most perfect complete a long descent in onespinning bout." (Ludlow)
This next article was written in 1978 by Clyde Davis, Kokomo, md.
ROLLING STYLES TO LOOK FOR IN ROLLERS (Clyde Davis)
Since the death of W.H. Pensom there has been a gradual change in the Roller fanciers, and their attitudes. They seem to live in fear of losing sight of the true Birmingham Roller, as they believed was known only to Pensom himself. I cannot deny the fact that Pensom was an outstanding authority of the rolling pigeon in his time, but his time was in the past. We must look to the present to ensure the future, and by that I mean, "we must pick up the torch and carry on but there are so many who do refuse to carry on by living in the past with Bill Pensom's ideas and teachings, like little children not know-ing whichway to turn except backwards, as if they were lost. I am speaking of the younger generation, who are the future ones to see that the sight of the true Roller is never lost.
Iam getting just a little sick and tired of reading so many articles that are constantly repeating things that were said 40 years ago. They have been saying for many years that there can not be a rolling Standard, but I have come up with one here in my area, and it has worked very well for the past few years. I feelthe sooner everyone learns the rolling Standard, and how to judge it, the sooner we will have good competitions that every6ne can see eye to eye upon, and the improvements of our strains will increase to such high levels of quality that we could shock the old timers before us. I would like to say a little bit about the breeding Qf Rollers, and the way it should be done. It seems to be a very disgusting problem to very many fanciers when they breed maybe 50 pigeons, and only a small percentage are recognized as deep Rollers. When starting your family you must breed deep Roller to deep Roller, never using non-Rollers or Rollers that start one month but quit the next, and never roll again. To set one thing straight on my expression "deep", I feel that 30 feet is a good deep Roller for an average, give or take a couple yards. If one was to breed Roller to Roiler; he will produce Rollers. If this procedure is carried out forat least three generations, you have got a thorough- bred Roller. You then should produce deep Rollers everytime without the problem of non-Rollers. You then should select your matings as close related pa4rs by means of first cousins, half brother and sister, full brother and sister, etc. you are now inbreeding.
Inbreeding is not a means of modifying any characteristics, it is only used to maintain dominate, and purify what one has start- ed with. The only need for crossing would be to change, add, or modify certain characteristics but at the sametime nothing is domin-ate, ou are only adding new genes, and new faults, which could times take a lifetime to correct. So, one must always be very dis-creet when choosing his breeding methods. You should also remember to pick the age for your birds to start their development of the roll, and breed them together or as close as possible to that pdint so that it will become a family trait in your birds to have the same development stage in the future generations. I personally prefer the age when they have just dropped their seventh primary flight in the year that they are born, but prior to the seventh flight when theydrop their first primary, I pull their tenth, and when they drop their second primary I pull their ninih, and then third I pull their eighth, but I do give them time to grow their tenth, ninth,and eighth if they are dropping faster than they are grdwing. This is the way I produce safe early developers. This system derived from knowing the fact that a young bird, if rolling deep at the same time when he is dropping his eighth, ninth, and tenth flights, they become extremely dangerous to a point that they might hit the ground, or they may be irritated to another point that they could become discouraged to ever want to roll again. If your family has failed you before or after this point by such roblems as too many rolldowns or maybe retarded features, you had the wrong birds to start with. It is very important that you start with the best, and if possible a family from a fancier who practices close breeding.
The above method of breeding is the way I have found it most successful, and you do not have to know a lot or anything about genetics. There are a few things to remember when starting such a method as this, and that is that the deep Roller is recessive to the non-Roller, and your early developer is recessive to the late developer.It's up to you to make your choice on how you want them.
For the past few years there has been a great influence from the English fanciers, and their birds, in the U.S. They are trying to give us the impression that they are maintaining the best Rollers in the world, but my opinion on the matter is to the contrary. The U.S. has produced better Rollers to what would be their highest expectations.
seems to be an impressing new type of performance brought on by the English
fancier, but I could not call them Rollers. A better name more suited
for their typewould have to be Spinners. They feel that any bird that can
spin at great velocity, about three or four seconds and not lose altitude,
is the ideal type. I have studied rolling styles for many years,
and the only ones I have ever seen that come close to this ideal have not
been able to produce the familiar "hole", as seen in the true Rollers.
They have always said that the smaller the hole the better the style, but
I am pressed upon to disagree, and shpuld say the hole must never be smaller
than a half dollar, and no larger than 2 inches. The Roller style
is an act of high velocity, traveling downwards at great speed, fbr a good
distance of no more than 50 feet, but the meaning of spinner would be an
act of high velocity, and appearing as if it were standing in midair going
nowhere. So it seems that we are breeding •two separate varieties
of pigeons, Rollers or Spinners.
As it has been said for so many years by so many esteemed fanciers, their opinions concerning a rolling Standard can not be put on paper, as they felt is was too confusing or too complicated to put across to the novice fanciers. One would have had to be acquainted with one or more knowledgeable fanciers that could teach and explain in person the styles, and qualities of style,.to be seen in the air, while standing in his backyard, even then you would have had to be most fortunate, but like most of us, to travel hal? way around the country would be a bit of a problem, so then you might feel that the experience that you have missed would leave you less than knowing what to look for, in your birds, if you have never seen it. So, I have given much thought to this problem, and have attempted to put is down on paper as simple as possible. I have br9ken down the rolling styles into five basic types. These are not the only ones, but they are the ones to look for from the best to the worst. I have lettered them in frames from A to E, with A being the best to E as the worst. They are all turning a good velocity, and undoubtedly they will help you in knowing what to look for.
Frame "A", in a side view, shows a very small ball turning at great velocity, and you will note a small hole in the center about the size of a half dollar, traveling at such great speed in velocity you would probably see; from a front view, a small ball as well, and because of the rapidity of the roll, the wing tips have become practically transparent to the naked eye. This style of roll should be found losing altitude approximately the speed of gravity, because of his non-friction, streamline style. I should also mention if this should ever come in contact with the ground while rolling, it would probably be found dead instantly or severely injured.
Frame "B", is much like fram "A" as far as the quality of style in rolling, but the velocity is not as great as that of "A" so you should be able to sight a little more wing action than of "A".
Frame "C", from the side view, would appear in a much larger ball than that of "A" and "B". You will also see a larger hole in the center of about two inches in diameter, and from a front view you should get a good description of the letter "H".
Frame "D", is a very common type. They are usually considered the deep Rollers. They can be found rolling 50 to 100 feet in what most fanciers try to claim as a good one in style. This is not to say they are always deep, but their abilities are not limited to the depth of their roll. This is the type that I feel is most misunderstood, because from the side view, if one was to look hard enough, he might see one or more holes, and also the ball would be about the size of frame "B" but from the front view, because the wings are in a 45 degree angle while rolling, you should see the figure of a letter "X". I should not fail to mention that the ½speed of descent, during the roll, is not as fast as frames "A", "B", and "C", so you can see the wings are giving the bird more friction while dropping, also this type could easily survive hit- ting the ground more than once, because of his lack of speed in velocity and descent.
Frame "E", is probably the most common type of all five frames. This type should be said the one that is turning in the style of a Tumbler, but at the same time has developed the speed in velocity of the roller. My name for this variety is what I call the Spinner. You can never witness the hole, in the center of the ball, from aside view. You should also note that the size of the ball is much smaller, much like frame "A". From a front view, you should find that the wings are stretched nearly straight out, giving the bird a much m6re dominant drag to the descent during the roll. These are com-monly found in the lofts of the so-called dual purpose Rollers.
review, on looking back to the five frames below, I should mention that
frame "A" is the most outstanding performer anyone could ever hope to see.
And so rare that you may never see it. I should also mention that
frames "B" and "C" could never be found in the I6fts of anything less than
the highest quality Rollers, of a fancier who has devoted much time to
the breeding of performance only.
In 1979 David Kowalski wrote this article in the A.P.J.
AN OBJECTIVE STANDARD OF ROLLER PERFORMANCE
(By David Kawalski)
In Part III of my series on "How to Found a Loft of True Spinning Rollers," I stated that, " a Roller's quality of per-formance (must) be objectively graded in the same way that dairy cattle milk production is measured in pounds." Thanks to Clyde Davis Jr. of Kokomo, Indiana, the flying Roller hobby now has that objective Standard - so far as the phenomenon of Roller performance can be objectified. In the April, 1978, issue of the APJ, Clyde presented a five frame illustration of the grades of Roller performance that is a truly masterful depiction of the stages of perfection of solid rolling that can be found at the upper ranges of excellence. Since Clyde is a Roller breeder, he did not concern himself with illustrating simple tumbling, others have already done that and Roller breeders shouldn't be concerned with a breakdown of poor performance.
The true Roller hobby, however, has been sorely in need of something visual and accurate by which to grade the performance of their birds. Decades ago, Bill Pensom presented the hobby with a full illustration of the ideal continuous rcbll from the side view. In "The Spinner", I included that drawing as the sole visual aid in the book with full credit given to it's creator, along with his written description of ideal performance. That illustration will remain. a classic.
These new illustrations by Clyde Davis must rank as masterpieces, as well. How many of us breed only birds that are ideal performers? There aren't any, I would answer. What do we do with those birds that are less than ideal? We must be able to evaluate them from best to worst and use them or not use them according to our needs and our understanding of what is required of a high quality bird. Now we have a vivid yardstick by which to separate the good from the best - a yardstick that is much more functional than any mere written. description, however precise it may be.
Of course, I am aware that some will be critical of my calling these drawings "objective" insofar as it requires individuals with their often "subjective" vision to do the evaluating. There is no.cure for this subjectivity of vision except to train the eyes to see what is there, no more and no less. Outright deception is like wise a problem. There will always be Roller men who see holes where there are none, just as there are show breeders who stoop to the deception of band switching to try to garner a cheap win. The best we can do is to identify the culprits and avoid them as we would any other disease carrier.
If they are widely employed, these drawings will bring a here-tofore unknown objectivity to Roller grading by replacing such im-precise words as "fast" and "tight" with a more precise reference to "Frame A" or "Frame B", always with opportunity to go back to these drawings to refresh one's memory and perception. These illustrations should prove of immense value in flying competitions, in backyards and breeding programs, and in the area of performance certification. Many Roller clubs have "Certifified Spinner" pro-grams and many more are contemplating them. We should now be able tp expressly define and limit "certifiable" birds to "A" and "B.", or "A", "B" and "C" depending on the strictness of our requirern~ents. The important thing, however, is that an objective standard of per- formance should also state the grade of performance, according to these drawings. What better way would there be to truly pinpoint the highest quality birds for general recognition? Furthermore, fanciers will no longer be satisfied with nebulous claims about a bird's ability. They will also have a guage by which to measure the vision and honesty of the bird's owner.
Iam in complete agreement with the majority of Clyde's article. However, it is unfortunate that he chose the word "spinner" to de-scribe the "Frame E" bird. As many of you know, I produced and edited a book on performing Rollers entitled The Spinner. That title arose from a joint brainstorming session with a fellow fancier in which we attempted to concieve a succinct and dramatic new name for Rollers of the highest quality performing ability. When the majority~of "Rollers" were still judged in the air, that name was indeed suf-ficiently accurate to describe the breed named for its performance. Through the years, however, that name "roller" has become bastardized in the same way the ideal performance has been bastardized and distorted. Bill Pensom's brilliant drawing of the ideal roll has been blatantly usurped by various clubs for many years without credit to it's creator. Its use, however., has become a caricature of the original. Some deft artist took that original drawing, gave the bird a big head and wealthy feather, but retained the original conception of the ideal, "hole-in-the-side" roll. The rather slick implication of this "new" drawing is that the "dandy dumpling" can still perform high velocity rolling ~ perfect style. The fact of the matter is that t ~ has lost the perfection of the roll for which it was originally prized. The show fanciers have persisted in calling their birds "rollers" when they should have changed its name as they altered its looks and warped its performance. Because of this distortion of the word "roller" and the bird, I fe!t it was time to coin a new name for the high quality bird that had once been proud to be called "roller". The name "spinner" was chosen to attempt to emphasize that distinction. It was this conception of the "spinner" that Clyde has depicted in "Frame A", and not Frame E".
Perhaps Clyde should coin a new word to decribe the type "E" performer, or simply leave it unnamed. Nevertheless, the important point is that we are in agreement that the "Frame "A" bird is the ideal to be bred for It doesn't really matter what we call that high quality bird so long as we strive to produce it. My real objection to "misnaming" in the Roller world, or elsewhere, is that words should be used to clarify, rather than to deceive.
congradulations, Clyde, on your brilliant illustrations. Now the true Roller
hobbiest has a visual, objective scale of rolling quality. It only
remains for fanciers to make full use of it.
This next excerpt was written by W.H. Pensom in the book,"Acrobats of the Air" around 1941.
WHAT A BIRMINGHAM ROLLER IS
A Birmingham Roller is not necessarily one that is deep to the extreme, but one that displays in its performance a likeness to a cricket ball spinning to earth in a straight line; the old saying put it, "Like a ball and straight as a boat line". The bird on starting generall raises its wings, claps, spreads its tail slightly downward, and finishes in a similar manner; any deviation frpm a straight course cannot be classified as a true roll. The true Roller shows no separate movement between each revolution but con-tinues in an unbroken spin; incidentally, such phrases as "inconceivable rapidity" and "lightning whirl" refer to the rapid manner in which each somersault is executed and not, as one might suppose, to~he descent from the start of the roll until the finish.
A fair impression of true rolling is obtained by rotating the forefinger
in small cirles, closely together, downwards; or better still, in similar
style to the action of an unwinding YO YO. A rolling pigeon can only be
so termed from its display in flight and if each movement is discernable
then that bird can only be styled a "tumbler" until perfection is attained.
On the other hand, should the performance be continuous but lacking in
speed and tight- ness, the bird could be called a "roller" but an imperfect
one. Such birds as the latter are capable of turning any distance of from
fifteen yards up whilst a true roller very seldom spins deeper than fifteen
yards, and neither will it twizzle.----The term'spinning' applies to a
bird making several
lightning somersaults, seemingly without losing altitude. W.H. Pensom.
Pensom wrote these next two excerpts in 1945 in the book 'The Birmingham Roller Pigeon' by W.H. Pensom and Others.
WHAT IS A BIRMINGHAM ROLLER?
Lewis Wright says that the true Birmingham Roller "turns over backwards with inconceivable rapidity through a considerable distance like a spinning ball," and this sentence provides an excellent standard for the performance of a Birmingham Roller. During my experience, I have always found a total ignorance re-garding this standard, and yet it is quite plain in its interpretation. Let us examine the set and precise performance of the standard roll. During flight the bird makes a series of backwar~ somersaults so raDidly that it is imp6s•sible to count the revolutions. Each revolution is so close to another that the bird rolls or wraps itself up like a small ball as it revolves at terrific speed in a straight line downwaids. A side view of the bird in action will reveal the ~resence of a small hole, about the size of a two shi11ing piece, and unless this small hole can readily be the bird not a first class Roller and should be valued accordingly insofar as its breeding qualities of the roll is very important, probably the most important feature of the per-fdrmance. I do not hesitate in saying that a distance of fifteen yards is the physical limit of a first class bird, if it values the pleasure of living. This is deep, in fact very deep, and more than a dozen birds of this nature can not be flown without serious casualties among them. The best and most spectacular ~ one of six to eight yards, if a fancier wants to results from his efforts. Twenty birds rolling in the correct manner, with six to eight yards as their limit, will give such an exhilarating exhibition of concerted acrobatics that the imagination can not describe it. Such performance is by no meansimpossible and should be the aim of every fancier devoted to the Birmingham Roller.
THE CHAMPION (By W.H. Pensom 1945)
is a champion? I will try to explain. First, a champion is
the greatest of all performers, a bird difficult to obtain but not beyond
the reach of any fancier who cares to produce one. As a performer, its
qualifications have no bounds. It can roll perfectly for any distance
up to a maximum of about eight yards. It~can regulate depth at-will, rolling
one yard, two yards or more at its own pleasure, according to its mood
and the circumstances under which it is flying. It can tumble any
number of times; it can perform as a "mad tumbler," spin, and "twizzle".
Its ability as a flier leaves nothing to be desired. In a kit a champion
can adjust its own performance to meet the requirements of the others.
If they tumble, the champion tumbles. Such a bird does not haye to-be
followed with the eye; he can be picked -- out at any time, and i-n comparison
with him other-Rollers are left at the post.
THE SMALL HOLE
by Herb Sparkes
After reading the last two NBRC bulletins and after reviewing the rules for NBRC kit competitions. I would like to offer the membership the following for their consideration. The performance and development of the true Birmingham Roller is very often mis-u~nderstood and hopefully I can shed some light of this subject.
Kit flying competitions should measure the abilities of the fancier. To carefully release a given number of birds, see them mount, maintain a tight grouping and perform in unison is a credit to the fancier that trained them. Hopefully this kind of quality management will allow the individual champion to reveal itself in time.
In his copius writings, Bill Pensom was quite zealous in his endeavor to raise the standards of the individual fancier by pointing out the distinction between the mediocre performer and the true spinning champion. - In fact, Bill did not feel that birds of- lesser spinning ability should be called Birmingham Rollers at a-ll but should be called tumblers. Well, there is quite a large area of gray between a champion spinner and a tumbler and this area is- the source of most confusion. I grew up and spent many hours with Bill Pensom and can tell you that not every bird that was called a Birmingham Roller was a champion. In an article by Ray Perkins in June of 1942, Ray quotes Bill and says, "to be worthy of the disignation of- Birmingham Roller, that the bird should roll straight down - like a falling ball with inconceivable rapidity." In-my years of experience I can find no fault with this description for the Birmingham Roller. Ray further quotes Bill and says that at the axis of the rolling bird a small hole can be seen, and when visible is the mark of the champion performer. I feel that Ray has clearly marked the distinction between the true Birmingham Roller"
I have bred and seen many birds that fit the description of the true Birmingham Roller, but only a few that can be called champions. The reason for this should he obvious, the small hole is simply not visible when the bird is properly viewed from the side. This bririgs-me- to the point of the article. The NBRC rules fo.r competition state that every bird in the kit of twelve MUST show the hole from the side. Thjs is an admirable standard, but I have been flying rollers for just less than 30 years, and I have never flown twelve birds in' the same kit that could show the small hole from the side at the •same time. I watched Bill Pensom's kits literally hundreds of times and when a bird showed the small hole it was practically a local event. I fear that the NBRC rule gives the impression that rollers that show the small hole are fairly commonplace. It is possible that in the world's best roller lofts that birds that can spin and do deserve the t-itle of Birminqham Roller are commonplace,but birds that show the small hole, ei Champions, are not. I feel t~his -rule forces the novice and the judge to see something that simply isn't there. If the novice sees a bit of daylight thru a fairly rapid spin he will think he is seeing what is termed the small hole. I have seen hundreds of birds that show some daylight through the spin, but this is not the small hole. Only the most extreme examples of high velocity spinning coupled with perfect type will reveal it. Further, when a bird does show the small hole, who is in a proper vantage point to see it? I can un-equivically state that there will never be a time in history when twelve birds will roll in perfect style, show the small hole, and the judge of such an event will be in a position to quarantee that every bird did in fact show the hole. To watch a roller flying at 300 or 400 feet in a kit, and to properly see the small hole you would have to be at 300 feet yourself. The times that I have been in the proper vantage point to see it have been very rare -indeed.
In 1972, Bill McRae and I had the pleasure to visit a fancier in the Black Country of the Midlands of England where our birds originated. Mr. Norman Pearson was our host, an4 he did indeed have a most unusual loft location. His loft was right on the edge of a 200 feet cliff and had he owned a bird that showed the small hole on that day we surely would have seen it because the birds literally flew at eye level and yet were more than 200 feet in the air. To state it one more time, you cannot see the small hole even when it is there if you are 300 feet or more directly underneath the kit when it attempts a full turn.
In my earlier days as an NBRC member it was the practice of the club to score a full turn for young-bird kits when every member of the kit (20) performed in unison regardless of the quality or extent of performance. This is not adhered to in England and I feel it is to their detriment. Requiring young birds to spin in order to score towards a turn forces competitors to cultivate early developing rollers This, of course, is not in the best interest of the breed when it is common knowledge that the best spinners develop later in i-n life Old bird competitions are another matter.
conclusion, I would like to caution the novice fancier not to look too
hard for the small hole. Look instead for extreme velocity in the
spin and study the body type of those individuals that appear to spin the
highest number of revolutions per second. The appearance of extreme
velocity is less deceiving to the eye than the search fpr the small hole.
When you DO have a bird that shows the small hole and when you are in the
proper vantage point to see it, you will.
In the 1979 Roller Special David Kawalski wrote an article entitled
"Aerodynamics and True Rolling Type". These next excerpts were taken from this article.
AERODYNAMICS AND TRUE ROLLING TYPE By David Kawalski- (1979)
THE HOLE IN THE SIDE
The other angle of viewing the roll is from the side. When reduced to geometric terms, the rolling pigeon is actually a re-volving triangle. One side of this trangle is formed by the back qf the neck and head as they are thrust backward to meet the second side of the triangle-the tail. Each of these two sides hinges on the~ critical "base" of the figure which is the bird's back. (Fig. 3) The pigeons's back is actually a number of vertebrae fused together to form one solid bone. The back of the pigeon does not flex during the roll or at any other time. The neck ,and the tail actually hinge upward toward each other from their respective points of attachment at each end of this backbone. During the revolutions of the roll, the head is continually pressing backward trying to meet the upturned tail. Counteracting this tendency to touch is the equally strong centrifugal force radiating outward in all directions from the center of the gyrations. Therefore, this rolling triangle is slightly open at one point-but the basic figure is maintained until the bird can no longer resist the forces acting on it. At that point;, the pigeon snaps out of the roll and returns to the kit or else it continues gyrating, though at a lesser speed, and plunges to its death.
At rest, and even during straight ahead flight, the pigeon's center of gravity-its physical "balancing point"-is- somewhere below and behind the point of attachment of the wings to the body. When the bird starts rolling, however, this center of gravity shifts up-ward to the top of the back, or even slightly higher, to that imaginary point around-which the pigeon rotates.
Going back to the image of the triangle, this center of revolution -is approximately at the center of the triangle. As the triangle rotates around this imaginary midpoint, the visual effect of a hole is created. The size of this hole is determined by the size of the triangle which is most closely related to the length of the back. Although this hole is not often seen it is there, nevertheless, when any above average bird performs.Whether this "hole in the side" is actually seen by the viewer is complicated by the presence of the ever-beating wings. The wings are attached to the leading point of the base of this triangle where the neck hinges to the back. As they beat up and down, they are continually flashing back and forth across this hole in the triangle. Whether the wings distort the image of the hole that is created is dependent upon how those wings are feathered. The critical factor here is the length and width of the secondary flights a-nd also the quality of that bit of feathers between the secondaries and the body. These feathers are sometimes called the tertiary flights. Excessive secondary and tertiary feathering will obscure the hole.
One of the current points of controversy in the Roller fancy is whether the hole in the side is actually the mark of ultimate velocity. This controversy has formed around the general statement that the highest velocity Rollers do not or even should not, show the hole in the side of the roll.
Before addressing this question, it is important to distinguish between rolling "style" and velocity. My definition of style includes cl-eanness of outline of the small hole in the side and also clarity of the external circumference of the falling, spinning ball. These are the two basic ingredients of style and, on the face of ~tt they can be distinguished from velocity of the revolutions.Among Rollers, one can find a number of combinations of style and velocity. A slower Roller of a certain minimum velocity couldshow a hole if its lack of secondaries permitted the feature to be seen. On the othe~r hand, a pigeon with more "cover" would not show a clear hole, or any hole at all, but still be capable of higher velocity revolutions than its more "stylish" loftmate du&to greater chest muscling and more aerodynamically efficient flight feathers.
the final answer to this question is only possible when one compares pigeonscapable
of equal rolling velocity. The only difference would be that one
has longer and wider secondaries and tertiaries. Longer, wider secondaries
increase the overall wing area. During the roll, the amount of wing
-area contributes directly to the degree of air resistance and air turbulence
which slows the roll. The pigeon with longer, "drag" inducing secondaries
which obscure the hole in the side would thus have a slower wing beat and
a slower, however imperceptible to the human eye, speed of revolution.
THE VISUAL EFFECTS OF A ROLLER PIGEON
(1981) By Dick Reimann
The appearance of a Roller pigeon in action is an often discussed and sometimes confused issue. Pensom carefully distinguished between various degrees of tumbling and actual rolling. (1) He was fond-of the following quote attributed to Lewis Wright, "Tumblers often make two, three, or more revolutions without stopping, and lastly there is the true Birmingham Roller which turns over backwards with inconceivable rapidity through a considerable distance like a spinning ball." This is a truly delight description because it challenges the imagination. What does "inconceivable rapidity" mean in the context? Clearly, the revolutions must be too fast to count which would make them a continuous blur. Further analysis requires going beyond normal human eye perception with either high-speed photography or simulation. The photographic approach-is very difficult because it requires a skilled photographer, careful analysis of numerous ex-pensive photographs or movies, and of course a "true" Birmingham Roller. Consequently, the following simulation technique is offered as a substitute aid for understanding.
First, imagine how the bird appears as it goes through its act.Photographs confirm Kowalski's description (3) that "the bird thrusts its head sharply backward towards the upturned tail" and vigorously flaps its wings one or more times for each full revolution. The following rather crude sketch of a "black self" roller against a white background at the instant of uplifted wings is labeled "A". If you momentarily ignore the rotation, an instant later the wings would be in the downward position as shown in sketch "--B". If the instantaneous scenes are averaged over time, the c9mposite picture labeled "C" emerges. Note that the wings are now semitransparent to indicate their rapid motion. It is like waving your hand in front of your face with the fingers spread and effectively seeing "through" them. - The spin may be added easily by means of a variable-speed electric drill with a sanding disc. Simply tape a drawing similar to "C" on the disc and see what happens as the speed is increased.
The current controversy of whether or not a closed "hole" appears in the side of a Roller can be examined with this model. If you place your unlabeled sketch so that the' axis of the rotation at the center of the disc is within the birds body at point "x" as shown below, no hole will be seen -- the center of rotation will remain black as the view spins. However, if the axis of rotation is slightly outside the body at point "0" as suggested by Kowalski. Consequently, the theory is offered that the hole in the side is due to rotation about an axis slightly above the bird's back. Care -must be taken not to confuse an actual bird's stray markings with this hole which should always show the prevailing color of whatever background it is viewed against.
Restraint should be exercised when interpreting these results. For an actual Roller, the axis of rotation is probably-very close to the center of mass or else the bird would wobble when performing. If this is true; a heavy bird with a deep keel and short neck should have its center of mass nearer to "x" than "0" and should not- show a hole. However, according to Lewis Wright's definition, it could still be a true Birmingham Roller if its spin is fast enough. This theory also predicts that a spinning shallow-keeled bird with a long neck would have a- better chance of showing the hole since its center of mass is considerably higher. In the lan-guage of mathematics, a hole in the side is a sufficient but not a necessary indication that the bird is a true Birmingham Roller. In either case, the blur is the important thing while the hole might simply be a matter of personal preference. Of course, the theory would -be disproved if there are many heavy, deep-keeled spinners with short necks which do show the hole.
Another interesting aspect of this model is the angular speed at which the image becomes a blur. A strobe light has been used to determine that complete blurring begins at about 6 full revolutions per second or 360 rpm. Numerous experienced Rollermen have wit-nessed this demonstration and feel that 10 rev/sec or 6OOrpm corresponds to the apperarance of an excellent Roller. Concern was expressed whether the view would change if the model were more life-sized. However, a larger sketch on a 20-inch diameter breeze-box fan drive by a variable transformer gave similar results when viewed at a meeting of the Idaho Roller Club. Also, the accuracy of the sketch is not critical. If you do not have access to a strobe light, a hand drill can be used, the revolutions quickly counted over a 10 second time interval and the gear ration taken into account. Alternatively, turn a bicycle upside down, rotate the pedals over a measured period of time and note the gear ratio. A ten speed works best because of its gear ratio. For me, a simple sheet of paper attached to the rear wheel next to the hub blurs into a con-tinuous circle for 16 revolutions of a pedal in a 10 second '-time interval. Since one complete turn of a pedal caused 3.75 revolutions of the wheel, this translates into 16x3.75/1O = 6 rev/sec in good agreement with the strobe results. It is hoped that your observations will confirm this.
Although these models might be amusing, they pale in comparison to the real thing. Carefully interpreted photographic analysis is- needed. A recent reprint of an article by McRae (4) describes the results of motion pictures taken at 36 frames per second of a "very mediocre solid Roller" He determined the angular velocity - to- be 27 rev/sec and felt that a truly "high class Pensom Roller" might execute 40 or 50 rev/sec. The simulations, as discussed above, clearly does not agree with McCrae's results which seem ex-cessive. Even 27 rev/sec is 1620 rpm which is beyond the top speed of typical electric hand drills. Whether the bird could survive such stress is doubtful. The equation that describes centripetal
-acceleration "a" is given by:
= (2'T~F)2r/g, where g= acceleration due to gravity
- 32 feet/sec/sec 2
-1.23 f r f = Angular frequency in rev/sec,
r = radius fr9m axis to point of
interest measured in feet.
For example, if the bird's eyes were only 1.2 inches = 0.1 foot from the axis of rotation and it was spinning at 10 rev/-sec then a/g = 12.3 or a = 12.3 g's of acceleration. Points further from the axis of rotation would experience proportionately greater ac-celeration. In contrast, a/g = 90.for f = 27 rev/sec! According to one popularizer of physics, "a typical fighter aircraft is designed to withstand accelerations on the order of 8 or 9 g's. (5) This fact makes the claim of 27 or more rev/sec even more questionable. Obviously, collaborating experiments are needed to settle this issue.
above analysis is not meant to detract from one's enjoyment of a true Birmingham
Roller's phenomenal performance. It is so complex that we will probably
never "understand" it well enough to lose interest in it. Instead
we should appreciate it all the more.
In -the Jan-Feb.1983 IRA bulletin No. 48 pages 12-13 Carl Hardesty had this to say about The Hole.
THE HOLE (by Carl Hardesty)
has been said and written about the hole that should be seen from the side
view of the ideal roll. It has been said that the position from which a
person viewing the spin has a lot to do with it. Lets examine the
prospect. Realize first that what we see when we see the hole is
daylight on the other side and the fact that we are looking through a tunnel
which is as long as the pigeons width and not much smaller than a half
dollar. Using a tube about as long as the width of a roller and about as
round as a half dollar (3 to 4 inches long and 1 inch dia.) examine the
below diagram and note that at too steep of an angle we can not see through
In bulletin 38 Dick Reimann's article on the center axle I see no good reason to repeat but would like to add that I agree with his findings.
Another possible explanation could be feather rising on the back while in the spin. This would either shrink or completely block the view of daylight on the other side. Much has been said fQr the H position and well said at that. Imagine if you will that the wings are fans attached to the.roll and if they rotate in a full swing from top to bottom they will only block the viewing area for a minimum amount of time and if the roll is of excessive speed then wings should pass the viewing area ( or hole) at a rapid pace and become transparent thus allowing us to see the hole.
The last example of why we do not see the hole is the most common I feel, and in its slightest degree is the reason the hole appears to shrink. If the tunnel area does drop in a straight line as- in fig. ~1 then the hole can remain visable, but if as in fig.~2 the roll is~ out of balance (much like an auto tire) then the viewing area is moving and changing the viewing angle constantly thus eliminating the clear view. At high speed this slight out of ba1ance spin is not very easily detected. But-the-end result is a non existent hole or a very small one. Commom sense -tells us-that the back woul& break if we bent the head to the rump or tail in a donut shape. Even if we insist the hole has sh-runk to nothing and it may well appear to do so I don't believe it possible, so please don't say come to my place and see it.
wings away (a full stroke at high speed should give this effect) and rolling
in a straight line at excessive speed almost has to create a visable hole
fig. ~1 below, it is all the attached circumstances and conditions that
deprive us of this beautiful sight. Don't make excuses for the hole
not being there but rather improve the quality. I have seen rollers
spin with breath taking speed wi-th the wings going transparent and still
no hole, it was a great spin but not a-perfect one. - If we stop trying
to get the best then what we have is second best.
This next article was written by Hans Roettenbacher in the Se t-Oct 1983 IRA bulletin ~52.
THE HOLE IS NOT A HOLE -JUST OPEN SPACE SURROUNDED BY A ROLLER
(By Hans Roettenbacher) 1983
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 pleasedon't say come to my place and see it." The lad has been dis-enchanted 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 psuedosolution to a non-problem is valid.
Icertainly 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.
hole is there, alright. It isn't in the middle of the back-- that's
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 terri-ble 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 sta-rts, you know d~mned 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 re-sponded fast enough to register every da?k 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 upptake 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 the become rounded off and so that the appear to be in the exact center of the bird's bdy. - Appears to be! It really isn't, obviously. Terrible though.t! 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 fanciers -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--espec~ially not when it isn't doing anything. But when you see birds spi.nning fast and smoothly, without hes-itations je-rking 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.
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 invitat-ion just to make a damned fool of himself. Well,
maybe I should take that back. Anyway, have at least one more go
- This was Carl Hardestys-reply to Hans Roettenbacher-. (Nov--Dec. 1983)
I REALIZE YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU THINK I SAID, BUT WHAT YOU THINK I SAID MAY NOT BE WHAT I MEANT" (By Carl Hardesty)
In bulletin #52, pages 21-22 Hans Roettenbacher was referring to my article in bulletin #48, pages 12-13. One thing about Hans, its straight for the jugular, no beating around the bush. Good honest criticism is good for all of us. Now to the points at hand.
am not sure I understand everything that you feel we disagree on so I would
restate some of my
beliefs. First of all I didn't see anything that we don't agree other -than the fact that the width of the back rotating around would be the length of the viewing area as we see through the hole. I in no way believe that the pigeon rolls so tight as draw the hole up to nothing. I agree that the edges of the triangle are rounded off by the excessive speed of the roll (when it is there) and this forms the round hole, but my best spinners throw a hole about the size of an inch, not 2 inches as you claim. And Hans anyone who -has ever had chicken for dinner
- should know that the back bone is bone plate, I in no way meant that the back bone was flexible. Really Hans, give me a break even if I am a roll down! - What I was referring to when I said "...I don't believe it possible, so please ddn't say come to my place and see it." The IT I was referring to is the spin so tight that the hole is no longer there. As for my being disenchanted and turned off, I don't think so, I have had a banner year, raised and flew some real cracker jacks. Roger Baker who I consider a close friend and one of the last of the old timers to stili value the quality of spin first and the turn second (it seems many of 6ur fancy feel if the birds don't work turns there is nothing else) was by to see my birds fly and share a lot of roller talk. I value any conversation with Roger even though we disagree on somethings because there is a lot to be learned from the man. I think Roger will tell you after watching- my birds that I have no reason to be disenchanted. Hans, I don't know what else I can say except that maybe I should take a course in writing~ because something got lost in the translation.
In 1987 Carl Hardestv wrote an article in the APJ entitled - "STANDARDS OF PERFORMANCE ROLLERS" (1987) (Carl Hardesty)
Standards for what ever they are worth are in my mind only if they help establish a better product. For years the hole in the side and the H position of the wings seen from the front, back or underneath have been the accepted teachings as per quality for grading a spin. I for one follow my own goals and that being straight and as fast as possible. That summary of my standard is only the result of the after product, for I have never seen, to my knowledge, a fast spin that was not without extreme tightness. Tbe straightness of the spin I would liken to a yo-yo or as the o-ld saying goes "being able to spin through a 6" drain pipe" or the wheels of a train as they move along the tracks.
The point being STRAIGHT, yes straight as a level line with no twisting and turning (changing wing action). Now, if the angle of fall is not perfect it is no matter to me and what I mean by angle of fall is while one might draw a straight line at 180 degree another might do the same at say 160 or 200 degree angle of fall but all being straight. And before I make myself misunderstood, try to see a large circle in the sky and the spin starting in the center of the circle and while yet straight fall at different angles, of course 270 or 90 would be the flight of the bird or one spinning in 60 mile an hour wind which ever you like.
Fluid is a great way to describe a perfectly well balan&ed straight spin. The twisting and turning in the -spin is anything but straight and balanced and I believe is the effort of the pigeon to break free from the roll but unable to do so by the compelling urge to roll.
Control is spoken in terms like rolldowns, bumpers and stable but the twisting
and turning is also, I believe, the effect of lost control. While
yet a different type of control or confidence, it
is still there. Some birds will show very little loss of this control and others struggle to over come it for up to a year or more and last but not least some never do.
Speed is just as important and in my mind goes hand in hand with tightness of the tuck in the roll. It is for this reason I no longer look for the hole in the side of my best spinners although I- do on occasion see it. What I look for is the outer circumference of the spinning pigeon and the smaller the better.
Agood standard for tight is the appearance of a softball spinning at great speed and falling. I have seen tightness as small as a baseball-or I call them snowball spinners. The tightest of all s~pinners don't show a hole in the side because they are drawn up past this point. The hole in the side most likely will be seen in the spin the smallness of a softball. These spins I have been talking about--it should be understood that the wings are not seen from the side view because of the greet speed and tightness of tuck. Any time you can see the wings from a side view we are not talking about a fast quality spin. The wings from the front, back and underneath viewing are, I believe the most mis-understood. I have seen so many rollers in the H position, it is not worth telling all. An example would be a cock that Jerry Boehmann has flown in our area the last year or so. I can't ever remember this pigeon ever spinning in the H position but I can remember a great number of outstanding quality performances by this cock known as whiteside and I can recall on one occasion he dropped about 10' looking like a snowball and other-times I have seen him go 40' looking great, but never the H position or the hole, at least while I was there.
What value is the H position? And do the wings stroke while the pigeon in in the spin? If they do stroke what kind and how much? Is the hole and the H position the end of the rainbow for performance? I for one don't think so! Yes, I have seen some truly outstanding spinners with the wings in the H position and some with the wings looking like knife points, but where is the merit of this performance other than personal preference. I don't believe the rollers that Bill Pensom and the other old timers were flying were of as high a standard as some of the best we have today. I believe this was confirmed by Bill Barrett in the tape that Rick Schoening produced for us. If I remember correctly the English fanciers regard the hole as an old standard which has outlived its usefulness. Bill Pensom and the other old timers did a great service for us in bringing these fine pigeons into this country and developing them to the standard they were able to come to in their lifetime.
But.. that standard was not the most possible quality level these pigeons are capable of! I believe only in these last 10 years or so have a few selected fanciers started to produce this standard or quality. This new family of performance rollers being severar generations removed from the old imported birds require a higher standard quality grading system. Those old standards were fine in their day as were the birds and the fanciers, but today is today and then was then.. In my travel I have noticed one thing and that being that those that hang onto the old ideas produce the quality of old gathering up as many as possible of the old birds as close as possible to the original birds, standing still if-you will. The otherside of the coin being the fancier that doesn't care if his birds have this number bird or that one in the background but that they perform to the greatest quality standard, this is where I have found the most outstanding spinners.
speak of these quality levels it should be noted that we should not expect
to produce a great number of these spinners that are of the- best quaIity.
Every bird we raise and fly should
be; examined to our sa-tisfaction as to keeping, culling and breeding. 0ne spin does not a champion make! It is the long run that makes a keeper and breeder. In the second year of flying (if they are good-enough to-keep that long) is when the test really starts. Will the pigeon still be frequent enough? Has the quality dropped off a little? Qut-of 10-spins how many are still pleasing? These are questions-we should ask~ourselves as we continue to evaluate our flyers The group of young birds that we started with after one year.has decreased in size greatly if we cull vigorously, now into the second year the culling continues and the group of birds from that year is even smaller and yes, as we continue- to fly them we are still evaluating them year in and year out. When evaluating rollers their condition should always be taken into account. Are they molting? Are they a little under the weather? The older bi#ds should have a lot of consideration before culling because they didn't last that long in the kit by spinning sloppy and just flying. Think what could possibly be wrong and that you yourself have done wrong that cause a problem for the bird.
these are some high standards and we should not expect our birds to perform
at this level day in and day out. But it does give a means to be
able to correctly evaluate a spin as to its quality level. If we
only have one bird that on occasion Spins of a high quality, it is no reason
to cull the rest but it -does give us a guideline as to what is possible
Our goal is~½o put as many as pOssible- into our kit and continue
to build year in and year out. Don't 1ook for a great kit of birds
in one year's breeding~, it takes time and effort. If the wings can
be seen from the side view it does~ not mean the bird is a cull but if
it looks as big as a basketball.. cull it! Remember... STRAIGHT..
Fast... and have a lot of patience. All persistent wing changers
after not more than one ~year should be culled, many a lot quicker.
Have you notic-ed I haven't-said a-thing about depth, well...it is only
and I mean only important when the quality is there first. Go for
it.. .now build a kit that comes up to the standard.. yes, a real performance
standard for Performance Rollers.
(THE HOLE IN THE ROLL) by Bill Barrett (1987)
hole itself is no more than an obtical illusion. A great deal has
been said and written about this hole in the middle. To- give the impression
that there might be a hole when you are looking at the pigeon. Bare
in mind, more often than not, the pigeon is not falling in the correct
position, to view it sideways, anyway, to see the hole in the middle.
The hole in the middle is no more than an optical i-llusion. Taking
into consideration. You are talking about- a revolving ball that is moying
faster on the outside than it is in the center. This in effect gives
you an-illusion there 's~a hole there. But, it doesn't exist.
When you look at the structure of a pigeon. You ask yourself a question,
"How could this pigeon draw itself up and leave a space in the - middle."
What you call a hole. It is impossible.
IS WHAT YOU SEE WHAT YOU KNOW (By Robert Krenz 1987)
There may never be a clear definition of what causes a Birmingham Roller to roll, therefore the question of what is happening when the bird performs will be examined. I believe there are two basic modes of-performance and hundreds of- variations on these modes.
Most fanciers believe that with each turn over or flip, the bird does a wing stroke. The bird rolls backward; there are no forward rolls. This first theory says that the faster the wing strokes, the faster and tighter the roll. Presumable, if the wings go fast enough, they- become transparent. Some believe that if the feathers of the prim-ary and ~secondary flights are narrow, there will be less wind restistance. -Others believe that a broader feather which is flexible "scoops-" more -air -and adds to the speed of the roll.
The other idea about rolling is that the birds wings "lock" into position and the momentum and ability of the bird to stay in this position determines the styleof the roll. It would be similar to an ice skater going -into a "spin." Another example would be a eucalyptus leaf, long and narrow, failing from a tree comes whirling down-, moving faster with its decent.
I believe that the "perfect roll" or the "donut hole" roll can only be done when the bird locks into position and not by the wing stroke method. I think that all the variety of performance from the true, straight drop is the bird either "fighting" the roll or l9osing control. A bird could "lock" into a wings out spin and appear to- move as fast as one locked into a wings up spin. If a bird spreads or fans out the tail feathers, this would slow down the spread of the -roll; therefore~ if the tail feathers are not fanned out but rather cbmpacted (OR the "one feather tail") -the bird will spin faster. Perhaps this is why the old timers looked for birds, as Ollie Harris said,- "Most of these good pigeons look as if you've been shoving th-eir tail into the body. Not long cast. A shortish tail."1
Feather quality and condition certainly affects- the roll. Mr. Pensom
repeatedly said: "due to the moult, they cannot fly and roll properly...".
Many experienced fanciers do not fly their birds during the moult.
-Some other remarks by Bill Pensom: "The tendency for a long tailed
pigeon- is to sidestep on anygiven the roll and plat? roll or do anything
but reallY spin.. a balanced pigeon is around 3/4 of an inch between end
of tail and wing tips" and "Judgee on type, feather and condition and you
cannot go~w rong.." In a 1953 letter, Mr. Pensom suggested
that judging be done "in the dark, the judge could wear a mask... He would
then have to select those he thought were perfect in body and there would
I would like to have a response from other fanciers about the above. Do you agree that. there are two basic -modes of performance? Why or why not? Any other ideas about what happens during the spin?
Harris-interviewed by William McRae 2/86
2~Letter from Bill Pensom to "Fred" -circa 1951-1953
3--Letter from Pensom dated Jan 18 1953 to "Ed"
*This next excerpt was written by Mr. Frank Lavin and I believe to be the soundest advise of all. I agree whole heartedly with Frank.
'There is so much written about the Champion Roller, that illusive bird with the inconceivable rapidity, hole in the center, one or more a minute... Surely this is what most of us strive for; but are we (aiming) our sights to high? They are definitely rare.
Roller pigeon can only spin so fast, it goes beyond this and something
has to blow, whether it be blood vessels in the head, eye, (or) vent...
Why not try raising good solid spinning Rollers in the 10 to 25 foot range,
cull the sidewinders, open large birds, wingchangers, and just generally
sloppy birds. Before long you should have some decent kits in the
air, that -is, if you started ~-with good stock... (Frank Lavin)
Editors Note: My sentiments exactly!
A VISIT TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF ROLLER FLYING (1987) By Rick Schoening, Polson, Montana
Ithought I would make an effort to share an experience I recently had. I had the pleasure of spending -two weeks in the Mother country of our beloved Birming'am roller pigeon.
What I saw and learned was quite an experience. I was humbled to say the least.
Iwas the guest of Mr. John Huntington of Dewsbury, West Yorkshire. This guy should be a professional tour guide. - I was on the road visiting roller flyers all but three days of my stay. He had each day planned out. We traveled North the Middlesborough and as far south as Bristol.
John and his wife Sylvia, were very gracious hosts and went out of their way to make me feel at home.
terrible thing happened to John the day after I arrived. Nine of
his best stock pairs were stolen during the night. I felt extremely
terrible and saddened at his loss. I too had been violated by thieves
three times while living in Illinios. Pigeon thieves are on the increase.
People with quality stock should prepare for the worst. In a matter of
a couple of days, John had received calls from
the top flyers in England dffering to loan him~some of their fineststock pairs. This generousity w-as very moving Thanks to these fine people, John will have a team to fly this year.
One major observation I made was that of proper kit management. These guys don't take it lightly.Kit performance is stressed highly. When a kit is flown, performance of individuals is second to performance in unison. Turns or breaks is what really turns an Englishman's crank.
They also demand quality of spin above all other aspects of aerial ability. I had heard rumors that these guys were so keen on- kit perfomance, that the depth and quality of spin was over-looked for frquency. I found no evidence of this in the kits I saw fly.
The types of feed and the amounts feed given to kit birds is very precise. They also pratice LOW protien diets. Especially when preparing for kit competitions. Milo and wheat are the mainstay of English kit birds.
The type of bodies they are trying to produce on kit birds are similar to those of gymnists. Building excessive muscle is not persued. Body builders don't make the grade on the uneven bars, either will well muscled rollers make it in a kit. Protien causes them to fly and not roll. Lean and flexible, not big and powerful. Body fat is brought to zero as competition nears. High protien can't be fed~to a team of young rollers, racing Homers yes. These methods are practiced by the winningest roller flyers in England. That's all I needed to change my management program.
Iwould like to mention a little about the quality of spin I witnessed in England Their pigeons didn't spin any faster than ours. They had alot more quality pigeons on hand than most American fa-nciers. It appeared they produce less culls than we do. At least amongst the top flyers. Its probably due to them not putting up with as many average rollers than you see in the States.
Kit birds are expected to perform in good style with depth and ~be frequent. Inferior birds are not tolerated by the winning flyers in England. They say that too many flyers in America "baby" their kit birds too much.
The best performers I saw were at Bill Barrett's of Bromsgrove, George Mason's of Derby and Steve Wheatly's in Middlesborough. I was reminded that the best pigeons had been stocked several weeksprior to my visit. The best time to watch the best pigeons fly is in the Fall. It was February or never for this bloke.
Going to England was a dream come true. If it hadn't been for a mutual interest in roller pigeons, I may have never had the opportunity to meet Bill Pensom or see his kits fly. I have read most of his writings, but still I wondered about my birds.
Now I know what true quality really is. I have seen it for quite a few years and never realized it. The realization that pigeons can't blurr into transparency was one obstacle overcome. Wing tips yes, but not whole birds. Some people write too much about their fantasies. If you have a pigeon that blurrs wi-ng tips, treasure it.
Ihave always wanted to help people and enlighten new fanciers about what to expect and how to do it. I have had to learn the hard way. If I can spare someone the grief and expense needed to;fly real Birmingham rollers, I will do so. With this in mind, I took a video camera with me and recorded three hours of rollerdom.
-- George Valiska and the N.B.R.C. made it possible for renting the camera. The tape will be made availiable for anyone interested in paying for the cost of making and shipping a copy to them. I am thinking around twenty dollars. The tape features interviews with the pros and footage of Bill Barrett's incredible kit of sixty! OLD birds. Lofts and training methods are explained. Anyone who flys rollers will enjoy it. This was just another progressive action taken by the leading Performance Roller Club in America.
Ihope this script has enlightened some of you, I know the video will. If you have a chance to go to England, Do it!
Below is a list of the fine English fanciers that I had the pleasure to meet. Their warmth and openess was greatly appreciated. They'll never know how much they did for me. Thanks!
John Huntington my host, Mohammad Zia of Huddersfield, Pat Benton of Dewsbury, Bill O'Callahan of Sheffield, George Mason of Derby, Bill Barrett of Birmingham, Ron Snow of Birmingham, Graham ~Dexter of York, William McRae, Steve Wheatly, George Kittson and the rest of the Middleborough crew.
Here is something that I hope you will put in the bulletin. know it will
cause some discussion. I have always felt this, but as afraid
that maybe somewhere there really was a Donut roller.
After my trip to England, I convinced myself that the "S" sketch is;the true article. When people like Bill Barrett disagrees with the "Donut" idea, I felt confident of my vision and more importantly, pigeons.
If you watch your pigeons close enough, you will see the "S" forming on your better spinners. Your slower rollers will show some type of opening in a straight over backwards roll. The "S" won't show up-until the bird is "Smoking with "S"tyle. So, I hope you will put this in the same bulletin that my England ~rip article is in Thanks George. I hope it will enlighten our mcm bers. That's what it's all about!
I thought I would take a moment to help flyers who are really serious in flying the genuine Birmingham Roller pigeon. This info-is mainly for people who have not had a true roller "flyer" show them, in the air, what a true spin really looks like.
- Sketch one is the "supposedly" minimum of a true spinner. I have been looking for it for years. I have travelled as far as Erigland looking for it. I have finally come to the conclusion that it doesn~t exist. I am sorry fellas, I don't buy it anymore. T-hose of you that claim to see sk. 1, need glasses. If you havegood eyesight, you'll see sk. 2.
pigeons can tuck so tight that the hole is too small to see. So-,
let's put the donut to rest and come down to reality. I like to refer to
sk. 2 as the "S", (style) I hope this has opened your eyes
and minds. Think what you like, I am convinced t~hat the donut is
Rick Schoening wrote this to clarify his comments he wrote in the previous article.
CLARIFY (By Rick Schoening 1987)
I would like to take a moment to clarify my comments with regard to the view from the side of a Birmingham Roller. In the last bulletin, I drew a sketch that has confused a lot of people. Hopefully, I can clarify !&y intentions of the comments.
years, I was under the impression that in order for a bird to be called
a real Birmingham Roller, it had to show a nice donut. Well, after many
birds and much expense, I still hadn't seen a
donut I did see what I call the "S" on the fastest spinners that - I: had witnessed. Let's not make people believe that they have to have a donut roller before it's called a Birmingham Roller. I have seen the hol~ in the side of rollers for years. It just appears at a different location. The center was always dark to me. It all boils down to the fact that these little birds are incredibly intriging.
While judging the International Kit Fly this year, I had the pleasure of meeting many long time roller flyers. One fellow in particular was Dick Reimann of Boise, Idaho. He is a physics professor. He has done many experiments with regard to the proper style of a Roller. His simulations are quite convincing. One point he brought up to me was this--the point of rotation can be varied on each bird. Longer pigeons can throw their rotation from the shoulder to the space above the back. This would cause them to revolve around the "hole" shorter, more compact birds spin on an axis that is within their body. Thus a no hole roller. These type show what I call an "S". The center of the spin is body, not space. Think about it anyway. I believe that we need to look at the rolling ~phenomenon more closely. If we want to see the hole more often, maybe we should breed longer birds. If we want ultimate velocity, then maybe shorter pigeons should be strived for. Who should make that decision? The fancy or the fancier? Food for thought.With that said, I hope to see a rash of letters to George for publication into our bulletin. Let's use the medium that we have at our dispense.
article of Rick's mentioned the simulations with regard to the proper style
of a Roller by Dick Reimann, Boise, Idaho. On pages 31-34 in this
bulletin is what Mr. Reimann has written.
There are some fanciers that feel they have created a new family of rollers that are far superior to the birds that Bill Pensom and the old timers raised. They feel that they need a new standard to qualify their birds. Here is what some others think.
DONUT HOLE (1988)
By Richard Espinoza
a note to tell you I really appreciate the excellent job you're doing in
the bulletins and bands. The respect for the NBRC has never been higher. Apparently the other national club (IRA) is losing members and interest due to the problems caused
by their lack of leadership.
Also a comment in regards to all of the articles I've been seeing, which claim we have now progressed past the hole in the center standard. As stated by a repected fellow roller breeder and flyer Dave Sanchez. If we have indeed progressed past the standard, why is it no one is flying a kit of birds which will show the hole. I can except the excuse that the~hole can be seen on rare occasions, as some claim. But that we have surpassed the standard, set by Bill Pensom is a hard one to swallow. Before we set a new standard, let's prove the old standard can easily be done. Ha!
STANDARD (1988) By Hugo Blaas
Ican say this for the most part, the True Birmingham Roller can not be improved upon. The strain was fixed a lona. long time ago,even before Bill Pensom. The only thing we can do is cull and strive to maintain it.. Period.. If the breed could have been improved upon especially in the last 50 to 70 years, all the birds would have been perfect spinners of the ultimate order, and we probably would have grown tired of them for lack of challenge. Today, I believe we may be flying birds of higher kit quality, but how can I say that for sure? It seems that in the 40's they had some awful good imports, the fore-runners of our contempory birds.
Here is a categorical rating system some experienced fanciers formulated for the Bill Pensom family of pigeons. Perhaps this will "shed-light" on hypercelarity gene for rolling.
#5 Type Roller- a pigeon that rolls straight over backwards; can be smooth or bumpy but relative to his speed. Wings out at side, not loose, not sloppy, nice straight smooth over backwards roll, that has an apparent lightness to -it.
#4 Type Roller- Very, very fast tight spin, maybe you can see 3'~to 4 of wing tips sticking~ out at the side when it rolls. Very fast spin. Hole- from side view not apparent.
#3- Type Roller- (This is the category in which we feel "Bill Pensom" started classifying his birds as Champions: Absolutely incredible speed, wings-you can't see them anymore; the bird looks like a "H" from underneath (small H). Virtually a blurr, can't make it out as a pigeon anymore. Hole is 50~ piece size from the side. No wings are s.ticking out. If wings are sticking out, it's a #4 or slower.
#2 Type.Spinner- Tuck is tighter-shrinks in size, wings in H position are invisible~ because the flights bend-because of forward centrifical wind resistance and arch into a ball; not a H anymore, very little wing butts sticking out. Looks like a round baseball. Hardly anything visable (in this category the wing tips may touch; but is insignif icant.
Type Spinner- Ridiculous speed 3"-4" diameter virtually the maximum limit
i-n speed a pigeon can possibly achieve.
-I hope you all enjoyed this bulletin on Hole and No Hole. Please let me know what you think of the bulletins. The next bulletin will be dedicated- to Mr. W.H. Pensom. It will be 20 years since his pass-mg- and I thought it would be appropriate to honor him with an entire bulletin dedicated to~his memory. Mr. Frank Lavin wrote a nice article and I invite-all of you who personally knew Mr. Pensom to write and submit an article in the- memory of him. It has been 20 years since his death but his memory lives on in his writings and with his birds who some of us still keep in a dose family without crossing. AREA DIRECTORS: REMEMBER TO VERIFY YOUR GOOD ROLLERS! Don't be shy, contribute to this bulletin. - Write an article and participate. THANK YOU
Note: This bulletin on the Hole and No Hole triggered my memory that one
of our Honorary Life Members and good friend, Mr. Roger 0. Baker, has Professed
the No Hole roller for years. It's only been in the last year that
others are now realizing what he has been advocating for many years. "The
No Hole Roller-" I bet it's a nice feeling for Roger to know he's
not alone in his observations. So, when you read this Roger, not everything
you say to us younger fanciers goes in one ear and out the other. I REMEMBERED.