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The Flying Oriental Roller Common Misconceptions
by Andy Estrada
*Special thanks to the Flying Oriental Roller Society for use of this article.
are many false ideas about the Oriental Roller in this country. Some are so
prevalent that the false idea is taken for fact and is “common knowledge” in
the pigeon fancy. Many of these ideas have been around for some time and are
usually regarded as true because it appeared in print at some time or an opinion
leader in the pigeon fancy said it is so. Some of the ideas are relatively new
but just as untenable. A few of the more common false ideas about the breed are
listed below with an attempt at correcting them.
Rollers don’t kit. They are individual performers.”
This is the most common falsehood about the breed! I have listened to
more than a few fanciers describe how they’ve seen Oriental Rollers fly all
over the sky and never kit. Maybe there is or was a strain of Oriental Roller
without kitting ability that I’m not familiar with. Oriental Rollers were kit
pigeons back in the late 60’s when I first flew them. More recently, I’ve
flown just about every strain available in this country and some from recent
imports out of the Middle East and Europe. All fly in kits. Oriental Rollers
have a strong instinct to kit. So much so that one weak flier in the kit will
bring the entire team down. Oriental Roller kits are loose with the lead pigeon
constantly changing. There is a nervous shifting and flitting in the kit and if
the team is too large the kit may break up into two or three individual kits but
eventually re-group into one team. A kit of Oriental Rollers appear rough and
rowdy in the air compared to the orderly, regimented appearance of a kit of
Birmingham Rollers. None the less, they do kit and should kit well.
only flip over once or twice” or “There is no velocity to their roll” etc.
other ideas are performance related. There are very few fanciers in this country
with substantial experience flying the breed but there are many that know all
about how the breed is a mediocre performer. The fact is there are all sorts of
styles, depths and velocities in the roll seen in the Oriental Roller.
Some of the deepest rollers I’ve seen have been Oriental Rollers. They
can also spin with high velocity though I’d stop short of saying they are as
fast as the best Birmingham Rollers. Oriental
Rollers generally perform to their full potential when flown in kits of their
own kind and the kit performance can be spectacular.
Rollers are only popular in Utah.” While
it is true that the State of Utah and more specifically the Salt Lake City area
has long been a hot bed for Oriental Rollers since at least the mid-1930’s,
the breed has had a following as a flying breed in other sections of the
country. Fanciers were at least semi-active working with the performing type
Oriental Roller in parts of the Mid-West and on both coasts prior to 1995.
Currently the breed is found in most parts of the country.
breed was developed somewhere in Europe.” How
this idea came into being I can’t say. I’ve been hearing this lately and it
is patently false. The Oriental Roller is an ancient breed originating somewhere
in Asia Minor or in the Middle East and can still be found in these regions. It
is documented that some of the first imports of the breed into this country came
out of Turkey and shipped to a zoo in New York in the late 1920’s. In 1998, I
received a few pairs directly from the Middle East in and these are nearly
identical in type our flying/performing Oriental Rollers.
Rollers are physically weak due to the lack of an oil-gland.” Or “..when
they get wet, the feathers get water logged due to no oil-duct” etc. It is true Oriental Rollers have no oil duct. In fact if the pigeon does have an
oil duct it is definitely not an Oriental Roller. However, the lack of an oil
duct has no apparent ill effect on the pigeon. The absence of the oil duct may
be compensated for by the over abundance of oil quills common in the breed.
These pigeons can appear to get more water soaked only because the flying
feathers are proportionally longer than in many other flying breeds and
not because of a lack of oils. The Oriental Roller is an exceptionally
sturdy breed that is long lived and seems resistant to many pigeon diseases.
Oriental Rollers have or should have neck or head tremors and this is a
desirable trait in the breed.” Yes,
some specimens of Oriental Roller shake their necks to some degree or another.
However, the issue of this trait being desirable is at least questionable. None
of the Oriental Rollers from the recent imports out of Germany and the Middle
East are neck shakers. Neck shaking appears from time to time in my stock as a
recessive trait. In 1997 I bred for the trait and in 1998 I flew 6 young birds
with visible neck tremors. Every one of these rolled down. So, it seems that
neck shaking is definitely not a desirable trait as far as my Oriental Rollers
are concerned. This trait in another strain might be fine.
Remember to see what you see and not what someone tells you to see.*
Birmingham Roller Guardians by Paul Sisk
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