Acquired: Bred bird myself
Posted Mar 16, 2010
Birmingham rollers are fascinating birds, as the description implies they spin backwards at an incredible speed so fast that the revolutions cannot be counted, and from the side they look like a spinning ball of feathers. They are about half the size of a proper racing pigeon, about the same size as those awful feral pigeons you see in the city centres, but of course much much prettier, as few of them are of the grey or chequer type. Although the novice might not appreciate quite what the colours are they range from Red to Blue ...the red mostly being a browny colour and the blue being a light slate grey colour. The colours in between can be pure black, black and white, mealy (a grey or beige colour) nearly always with white flights and badger type white markings on the head and neck. Although there is great interest in showing these birds, I have never found this aspect of the hobby very interesting. I get my thrill from watching their magnificent performance in the air. Rising gently to about 200 foot (and sometimes much much higher) the good team should perform in unison. Staying together as a compact group, at some point in their flying circle they will pause almost to a standstill and then together spin fast and furiously backwards (head over tail) at considerable speed toward the earth. The time taken to do this will vary according to the particular strain of BR, but a spin to be executed correctly will usually take between 1.5 and 3 seconds, and that means the distance covered can be anything up to 100 foot. The great thing about rollers is that they come in so many forms, from the birds that fly extremely high, and only perform individually and with some degree of seldomness, to the birds which are so full of performance that they might have difficulty achieving a safe height before spinning......unfortunately some of these can hurt themselves, and sometimes if mistakes are made in the breeding of these they can sustain fatal injuries to themselves.......this is one of the downs of the hobby. More recently this hobby has started to decline as the increased population of falcons and hawks have meant that fanciers are constantly tormented by attacks. A friend of mine in the Cotswalds (middle England) lost 83 rollers to the raptors 3 or 4 years ago, and such an attrition rate cannot be tolerated.....so he gave up the hobby. Fortunately for me I moved to Portugal a few years ago and here there are many less predators, so I can sustain the losses amounting to an average of 10 birds a year. The spectacle of the spinning roller has so captivated me since I was 12 years old that I am somewhat obsessive about them, and I need to watch them perform most days.....I need my roller 'fix' each day.......so beware you too could be hooked!