2011 - Volume #35, Issue #4, Page #22[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story | Read this issue]
They Breed Pigeons To Roll On The Ground
Parlor Roller pigeons somersault backward across the ground, rolling hundreds of feet. The pigeon handler holds the bird in the palm of his hand and releases it with a little roll, like a bowler aiming at some pins.
"They are strictly a ground bird and can't fly at all," says Mark Roberts, who raises and sells Parlor Roller pigeons and other pigeon breeds in Afton, Minn. The rare breed dates back to the 1850's in Scotland and the Philadelphia area.
Rolling on the ground is what the birds do naturally, and serious pigeon owners breed to reinforce that trait. Rolling 200 to 300 ft. is considered good. The world record is 662 ft., held by a well-known California breeder.
"There's a fairly large group of roller fanciers. We enjoy the performing," Roberts says.
During local events and at National Pigeon Association shows, there's often a roller pigeon competition. Birds are judged 60 percent on performance and 40 percent on appearance.
A Parlor Roller is a simple looking bird that weighs between 7 and 10 ounces. Its care is similar to other pigeons, though food and water must be available on the floor since they don't fly.
Because they don't fly, Parlor Roller pigeons are a good option for city dwellers. The birds can live in a rabbit hutch.
Roberts says he has raised pigeons all his life, and when he was a chemical dependency counselor, he incorporated the birds into his work.
"I developed an animal therapy program, and I brought in my Parlor Rollers. It helped the kids focus," he says.
Parlor Roller pigeons are often sold at $1 for every foot they typically roll.
Birds that only do one or two backward somersaults are called Parlor Tumblers.
The Parlor Roller breed is different from another performing breed called Roller Pigeons developed in the 1700's in Birmingham, England. They somersault in the sky, spinning backward like balls for up to 40 ft. During competitions, pigeon owners release a kit (20 birds).
"At least five birds minimum have to roll in unison to score," says Tony Chavarria, who breeds and sells Ruby Roller Pigeons in Seymour, Mo. (www.rollerpigeon.com).
For more information on all pigeon breeds go to www.npausa.com. Roberts has videos of his ground-rolling pigeons on his website. You can find other videos on YouTube.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Mark Roberts, P.O. Box 311, Afton, Minn. 55001 (ph 651 436-4984).
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