to the preservation of the Oriental Roller as a Flying -
excerpt from the book “So You Want to Raise Rollers” by W.
Paul Bradford used with permission.
A. Naether writes in his book The Pigeon, That the
Turkish or Oriental Roller is doubtless the oldest breed of
performing, flying pigeon. It received mention in Persian
manuscripts of the twelfth century. Ever since, this pigeon
has been bred for its remarkable flying and rolling qualities.
was first introduced into England about 1870, being considered
a distinct variety of Tumbler. It had a longer flattened head,
back and a strong beak. Special characteristics of the
Oriental are its long, high tail consisting of from fourteen
to eighteen tail feathers, one lying over the other in two
divisions. It’s drooping wings, Yellow or Pearl eyes,
patterned or solid color, and especially its lack of
the oil gland, distinguish it from other Tumblers. The
Oriental is a swift flyer which, if well trained, will perform
satisfactorily in kits. The performance of any two birds is
rarely alike. It is a high flyer and returns to its loft in a
death defying dive. Another characteristic of Oriental Roller
performance is its nervous darting during flight.
are patterned, bar or check, with an abundance of kite or
bronze coloring. Orientals have a dilution factor allowing for
silver, yellow and buff colors to appear. They were small in
size and flown in small groups. These birds were prized and
were sold in central Europe and England. They were imported to
the United States by breeders of flying, performing pigeons.
The early breeders of the Birmingham used to cross the
Oriental into their birds to improve performance. Hence, They
became the ancestor of the Roller as we know it today.
are some special characteristics of Orientals if you are
interested in breeding them.
Oriental is unique in that it has no oil gland. Its feathers
have a naturally oily appearance. Most birds have an oil gland
close to the tail. They preen to oil their feathers; not so
with the Oriental. This is the first thing you should check to
be reasonably sure you have an Oriental Roller.
tail of the Oriental has Thirteen to eighteen feathers.
Sometimes they will have twelve and occasionally more than
eighteen. The tail feathers are long and strong and packed
tightly to form a slight arch. The tail is carried at an up
angle of about twenty degrees.
flight feathers are also long and strong. The wings are
carried below the tail. This is very characteristic of the
Oriental Roller. Its long flight feathers aid in its flying
appearance is very important in the Oriental Roller. It is
slightly larger than a Birmingham Roller. Its appearance
should give the viewer a long, snaky look. The head is
oval-shape and flat on top, not round or square. The Oriental
is streamlined, with sweeping wings below the tail.
flight of the Oriental is strong and swift. Its wings and tail
are designed for quick, maneuverable flight in order to stay
one wing-beat ahead of the desert falcon. Orientals are high
fliers and good performers, though not as frequent in
performance as the Birmingham Roller. They Range in flight,
then swoop and dive when coming in to land. They are flown in
smaller groups of twelve to fifteen birds. A kit of Orientals
will climb out of sight in within minutes, then before you
know it, their performance will bring them down to the landing
area or loft.
temperament of the Oriental is slightly mean. They are not
afraid of man and are content to allow you to walk among them.
They make interesting pets when given attention. I have seen
Dale Husband’s Orientals fly to him and alight on his
shoulder, wanting attention.
of the special traits of the Oriental is their cooing sound.
They are more dove like and have a rolling, singing coo. If
you listen carefully you will know if you have a true Oriental
or a crossbreed.
Orientals from Asia Minor are a little larger than the Persian
strain. They are usually black, red, yellow, dun, or almond
color. Other characteristics are common to both strains –
Asia Minor or Persian.
hope the breeders of this pigeon will rally to its support and
salvation. I have no idea of how many true flying performing
Orientals are left in the United States. If you have them, I
hope that you will maintain them as they were meant to be. The
Oriental Roller is a flying performing pigeon and should be
bred for that purpose.