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Birmingham Roller Pigeon

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Graham Manning

Is the Birmingham Roller Pigeon right for you?

Species group:

Other common names:

Scientific name: Columba livia domestica

The basics:
The Birmingham Roller is a breed of domesticated pigeon that originated in England, where they were developed via selective breeding, for their ability to do rapid backward somersaults while flying. Originally just a flying breed, the Birmingham Roller is now bred both for show and for aerial performance.

As explained by The National Birmingham Roller Club, "The Birmingham Roller Pigeon... distinguishes itself by its ability to "roll", or summersault backwards in rapid, tight rotations. The rolling can be so fast on its axis that the pigeon resembles a ball of feathers spinning in mid-air."

"Birmingham Rollers, like all domestic pigeons, possess a homing ability which drives them to return to where they feel safe and where they find sustenance. With this natural ability, breeders launch groups of Rollers into the air to watch and awe at their synchronized acrobatics. During competition, these groups (known as "kits") are judged on a variety of factors, including the number of birds rolling simultaneously, the depth of the roll, and the quality of the roll, as well as "kitting" ability."

The Birmingham Roller Pigeon was developed by Birmingham, England breeders in the 1800s from several older species of rollers and tumblers, probably including the Dutch Tumbler, Old English Tumbler, West of England Tumbler, and the Oriental Roller. They are bred for their performance, rather than their looks, so they may resemble a smaller Racing Homer Pigeon until you see them in action. The true performing Birmingham Roller Pigeon should be capable of performing backward somersaults at such high speed that you can't count the revolutions. In the 1970s, there was a split in the hobby, with a separate line of birds being developed into the Show Roller breed.

Appearance:
These athletic pigeons can come in a variety of plumages, since the focus is on their performance, not their colors. They've been described as resembling a "scaled down" homing pigeon, another athletic breed.

Weight:
280 - 400 grams (10 - 14 oz.)

Average size:
30 centimeters (11.8 in.)

Lifespan:
7 - 10 years

Behavior / temperament:
Birmingham Roller Pigeons can be rewarding because they're confident, non-fussy, and trainable. If you want to be a competitor, you should connect with Master Flyers, breeders, and other knowledgeable experts. They might not share every secret, but they'll help you find good trainable birds to get you started. It is worth considering the birds of prey situation in your area before you choose to work with these birds. Many of us live in a flyway for migrating birds of prey or even an area where birds of prey may reside for several months in winter, so we are not properly situated to start training Birmingham Rollers. It is not legal or right to kill native birds of prey, so know your situation BEFORE you decide to enter the hobby.

If you happen to have a single pet, because it's a rehomed or retired bird, or just because you prefer it that way, then spend time teaching your Birmingham Roller to return to you for treats and affection. Try offering safflower seeds when the bird flies to your arm. They have the ability to be charming, friendly birds if you take the time to give them attention and training.

Housing:
The majority of Birmingham Roller Pigeon keepers are breeders and exhibitors who keep their birds in a specialized loft. Talk to another breeder before you design your loft, and make sure that it is easy to clean and secure from mosquitoes, raccoons, and other predators that would like nothing better than to feast on a nice tasty pigeon. Have a minimum of 4 square feet of floor space for each pair. Yes, that does mean that an aviary 4 feet wide by 6 feet long houses a maximum of 12 birds. Pigeons are messy, and their droppings and feathers can accumulate, so don't take on a bigger job than you are sure you can manage. Consider a security system to deter thieves.

Also, if you are planning to fly a performing kit, you need a specialized loft called a kit box, where you can house your competition team together, since you will train them to leave and return after each performance. For more information, it's imperative to connect with other hobbyists, perhaps by becoming a member of The National Birmingham Roller Club.

A single pet Birmingham Roller Pigeon should enjoy a rather large, easy-to-clean flight cage. Bird-proof the room where you spend the most time, making sure you can lock windows and doors from the inside when you have your pet out. These birds are good performers, but they are somewhat vulnerable to being captured by flying predators like hawks if they get outside. It is a myth that the spinning action allows them to evade or confuse predators, as hawks and other birds of prey are reported to catch some of these birds every year.

Birmingham Rollers bathe in water, so they should be allowed access to a shallow dog dish or similar bathing bowl to splash around in. Since pigeons lower the head to drink, they will need a deeper bowl for the drinking water.

Diet:
The Birmingham Roller Pigeon can thrive on a relatively simple diet. Most people start with a high-quality pigeon mix from a well-regarded source. You may also mix in quality grains such as millet, barley, wheat, whole corn, dry peas, buckwheat,oats, and so on, either from a good feed store with fast turn-over or from a health food store. Special pellets formulated for pigeons can be used to supplement the diet, to ensure that your bird has enough vitamins and protein.

Chopped greens like kale, dandelion greens, spinach, or fresh sprouts should be offered each day. Some people offer high beta carotene foods like finely chopped carrot or papaya.

All Birmingham Roller Pigeons need access to a high quality pigeon grit to help them digest the tough, uncooked grains they like to eat. A cuttlebone or another calcium source is also valuable. However, calcium may not be properly absorbed without sufficient vitamin D3 if your pigeon is an indoor pet. Therefore, it is important to choose a good avian supplement that includes D3.

Written by Elaine Radford

wonderful

Friendly creature, hobby birmingham rollers, beautiful pigeons, proper racing pigeon, amazing maneuvers

challenging

sure hawks, large pigeon coop

interesting

bracelets, cooing noises, worldwide competitions, gender differences

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