to the preservation of the Oriental Roller as a Flying -
a Young Kit of Oriental Rollers
a kit of 15 young Flying Oriental Rollers on a windy
afternoon. The larger bird at the right is a Cooper’s Hawk.
As the kit came down to land, this hawk jumped them and
missed. The Black-Self pigeon
that was chased flew up and remained very high.
The hawk flew into a pine tree. The remaining 14
pigeons circled the tree about 10 times then flew off, turned
and flew back at the tree. The hawk flew out of the tree
directly at the kit. The pigeons did not break but went into
overdrive straight at the on-coming hawk. The hawk didn’t
appreciate this and pulled out of his stoop above my loft.
That’s when I got the photo.
The kit stayed right above the hawk as it circled doing
spins and all sorts of crazy
maneuvers. A few
minutes of this and the hawk high tailed it outa there! I’ve
been lucky so far this year. Not one Oriental Roller lost to
hawks…Knock on wood. Kit
consists of Tuff & Buff Bar; Almond; Black, Red and
White-Selfs; Kite; Grizzle and Dun.
I’ve written a couple of detailed articles on this subject
but in talking to some of you who are having trouble with your
young kits I thought I’d touch on the high points again.
Many strains of flying/performing Oriental Rollers can be a
challenge to get into the air and flying high. The reasons for
this are the breed in general is slow to mature when compared
to breeds like the Birmingham Roller. Plus, most Oriental
Rollers are quick to develop habits that are difficult to
break. The most important reason concerns the fancier. Anyone
working with flying/performing Oriental Rollers must have
patience. There is little but the most basic knowledge a
fancier can bring from experience with other roller breeds.
the basics are in place i.e. clean, dry and draft free kit
loft, clean feed and water and time to train. Start with
weaning the squeakers early at about 5 weeks old. I put 8 to
12 in a kit loft with free access to an attached training
cage. There is clean food and water available all the times
for the first week. Make sure all are feeding and drinking
well. If any start to go light you might try putting them in a
separate cage for a few days where there is no competition for
space, food and water and let these gain some strength before
returning them to the kit box. It is a rare squeaker that
won’t feed or can’t find water and needs a beak dipped.
a week after weaning the squeakers should be strong enough to
fly very short distances. At this point I feed the squeakers
as much as they will eat once a day as late in the day
as possible. I may change the amount and type of feed as the
get older but I never change the feeding schedule. This
feeding schedule is vital.
a few day’s on the new feeding schedule the training cage is
removed. I use bob traps and begin letting the squeakers come
out through the open trap in the afternoon about an hour
before feeding. They will be tentative at first but will soon
be flying from loft roof to loft roof and will go into the kit
box when you put the daily feed ration in. The trap is closed
and the feed tray removed after they are finished. Never leave
feed in over night. And never let the squeakers land on the
ground or any other place except on the roof of your lofts.
Keep this routine going for a week, lowering a couple of trap
bobs each day until all bobs are down and the squeakers are
routinely going through the trap.
this stage the squeakers are about 7 weeks old. They should be
taking off on very short flights and playing around on the
loft roofs and always in one group staying close together.
It’s time to start getting the team into the air. Let the
team out on the roof at the usual time in the afternoon and
then flag them up. I use a black plastic garbage bag taped to
an 8’ bamboo pole. This setup makes plenty of noise. Only
flag them once even if the kit only lifts off and lands
immediately. Again, they must learn the loft roof is a safe
place to be. Continue flagging up the kit daily until the team
is making short 5 minute flights around the loft. Do not allow
them to settle anywhere but on the loft. Any pigeon that lands
on buildings, wires, trees and what not, should be forced to
return to the loft roof. I
keep an old fishing rod and spinning reel spooled with 150# Dacron
line and a tennis ball attached to the end of the line. This
comes in handy when persuading rollers that have perched
anywhere but on the loft to fly back to the loft or rejoin the
kit if it is flying. A
kit of squeakers flying for 5 to 10 minutes then landing and
trapping quickly is a major accomplishment. You can now fly
the kit at different times during the day or even 2 or 3 times
in a day. Use just a little canary seed or millet to get them
to trap if you need to but other wise stick to the feeding
schedule. If you feed the kit after they fly regardless of the
time of day, Oriental Rollers will learn they have food
waiting and will come down early to eat. This is a very
difficult habit to break.
kit should fly low about 150’ to 300’ and for short
periods for about 2 weeks if flown every day.
The only performance will be tail slides and some
flipping. It is very rare for this breed to roll from a low
altitude. I’ve had teams take as long as a month before
beginning to fly high. Be patient. Remove any pigeon that
appears to be landing early bringing the rest of the team with
it. “The kit is
only as good as its weakest member” is an axiom when it
comes to Oriental Rollers.
At some point the kit will go up high and start flying
for longer times usually about an hour or more depending on
conditions. This is also when they will start performing. Once
the kit gets a taste of high flying they will be eager to
take off into the blue.
be patient and be ruthless in not allowing bad habits to set
in. Whether the kit is flying high and performing well or
flying low and performing poorly is entirely up to the