Home - Join the FORS - Quarterly Bulletin - Membership List - Officers - For Sale  - Email


"Dedicated to the preservation of the Oriental Roller as a Flying - Performing Pigeon."

Training a Young Kit of Oriental Rollers

by Andy Estrada

This is 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.     A. Estrada

            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.

Assuming 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.

About 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.

After 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.

At 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.

Your 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. 

Remember, 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 trainer.  *

 Join the FORS