John Wanless – My Life with Birmingham Rollers
John Wanless My Life With Birmingham Rollers
For several decades the breeding and flying of the Birmingham Roller has had no real written breed or performance standard beyond personal opinions described in various pigeon journals, letters between fanciers, communications on internet sites, and the individual opinions of judges during competitions. As a result, controversy and confusion have dominated the fancy. Operating primarily on the basis of individual bias and personal opinion has destroyed numerous roller organizations and has the greatest potential to bring about the ruination of our hobby. Without a written standard, it is likely that flying competitions will continue to be judged and scored inconsistently and confusion will continue to reign as to what constitutes standard performance.
Following, you will find a copy of a breed/performance standard for the Birmingham Roller that has been developed and will someday be submitted to the NBRC for approval by a majority of voting members. As a part of this process, this article is designed to enlist your endorsement of this standard, as an individual or as a roller club, for support when it is submitted. The standard was evolved over the past five years through monitoring discussion points regarding Birmingham Roller performance among novice and experienced flyers and Master Flyers on a personal basis and at NBRC Conventions, with judges at NBRC competitions, and through communications on a variety of internet sites. It is intended as an educational tool designed to define the Birmingham Roller’s performance and breeding objectives in an effort to bring about more consistency in judging NBRC competitions from region to region across the country, and to provide concrete objectives for the backyard flyer who tends to be more isolated, and thus improve the breed at all levels. The sooner everyone who participates in the hobby at any level learns the performance standard, how to identify it, how to score it, and how to breed for it; the more we will see consistent improvements in the quality of performance in the various strains of Birmingham Rollers.
Please put your personal biases and feelings aside and read the document objectively, with an open mind, and with the highest regard for the benefits that it will provide in the breeding and flying the Birmingham Roller. We need to come together as individuals and as local, state, regional and national roller organizations to adopt these standards for performance so that all members understand what the performance objectives are in breeding and flying the Birmingham Roller, as well as to gain better insight as to what a judge will be looking for in the evaluation of kits of rollers for those interested fanciers. Do not be surprised if you see ideas, herein, that you have may have read in the literature or expressed personally in public forums. Please feel free to write to me or to e-mail me at email@example.com or contact me by phone at 336-601-6877, should you notice any apparent omissions that you feel are important to include in the standard, your feedback is appreciated. Thank you for your time and for your commitment to the roller hobby.
Birmingham Roller Breed/Performance Standard
The National Birmingham Roller Club is a nonprofit membership-supported organization established in 1961 that is dedicated to the promotion of the flying and breeding of the Birmingham Roller pigeon. The NBRC sponsors two national championship competitions annually, one consisting of kits containing eleven birds, and one for kits containing twenty birds. In general, a Breed Standard (also called a Bench Standard) in animal fancy and animal husbandry is a set of guidelines which is used to ensure that the animals produced by a breeder or breeding facility conform to the specifics of the breed. Breed Standards are typically devised by breed associations, not by individuals, and are written to reflect the use or purpose of the species and breed of animal. Breed Standards help define the ideal animal of a breed and provide goals for breeders in improving stock. In essence, a Breed or Performance Standard is a blueprint for an animal to fit the function for which it was bred, i.e., herding, tracking, racing, or in the case of the Birmingham Roller, specific performance feats during flight. Breed/Performance Standards are not scientific documents and are subject to modification and updating over time. This standard is intended to describe the breed and its standard performance during flight, thus assisting breeders in the selection of stock capable of producing that performance in the air in future generations. It highlights the most desirable and most undesirable traits possessed by the Birmingham Roller, and attempts to describe average, as well as minimally desirable traits. It is also a working document that will evolve as out knowledge and understanding of the Birmingham Roller grows. In developing a Breed Standard, I have included a range of qualities that are necessary to ensure the future integrity of the breed, and am committed to maintaining this integrity in future revisions. Again, this document is intended to assist people interested in the stewardship of the Birmingham Roller, with the ultimate purpose of passing on healthy, vigorous birds capable of quality performance in the air for the generations that follow.
The Birmingham Roller is a domesticated pigeon breed from the Rock Dove (Columba livia) or Rock Pigeon, which is member of the bird family Columbidae (doves and pigeons). This breed originated in and around Birmingham, England, where they share common ancestry with other performing breeds of pigeons, such as Tipplers, Oriental Rollers, Dutch Tumblers and West of England Tumblers. The breed, it is assumed, was developed from the crossing of some, as of yet, unknown combination of these breeds via selective breeding for their ability to perform a series of rapid backward somersaults for a distance of several yards during flight, referred to as rolling or spinning. 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, known as kits, into the air to watch and awe at their synchronized acrobatics. During competitions these groups, or kits, are judged on a variety of factors pertaining to the quality and depth of the performance. This Standard is written with the mature two-year-old in mind. Bear in mind that age may affect comparisons with this Standard and that it is most desirable to choose breeding stock at maturity.
In general, the Birmingham Roller is a pigeon of small dimensions, six to eight ounces in weight when in proper flying condition; round of body, which is not deep or shallow; sometimes referred to as apple-bodied, but also found to be long cast, as well. It is not too pronounced in the chest; nicely refined in head shape, which may well vary in contour between long, well-rounded, flat or with a pinched in face, and possessing small crests or peaks in the feathering of the head. There is generally a variable space between the end of the keel bone and the vent bones and keels may vary as to length and shape. They are short of leg and are to be found both clean and muff-legged. The eye can be of any color: usually pearl, yellow, orange, gravel, bull, or brown and should be bright and expressive of high intelligence and character. Hard feathering appears to favor quality performance over soft feathering, but standard performance can be found in rollers with either type of feather. This Standard will not address details of feather color or body type because these have not been found to be absolutes in the Birmingham Roller breed of pigeon. Characteristics of the Birmingham Roller such as character, temperament, intelligence, though difficult to portray on paper, are nonetheless possessed by the standard rollerand affect the bird’s response to organized training and stability of aerial performance. There may be exceptions to this description of the standard Birmingham Roller, but they should be treated as such, since they may not be capable of contributing much towards the goal we seek.
(Picture of a roller)
The historical basis for the breed standard, hereby established by the NBRC, was described by William H Pensom in his book The Birmingham Roller, Chapter 3, p. 10, where he quotes Lewis Wright: “The standard reads as follows: The True Birmingham Roller turns over backward with inconceivable rapidity through a considerable distance like a spinning ball.”
The standard set forth here operates on this historical basis that quality of performance is the essential characteristic of the Birmingham Roller, and that the proper execution of said performance is a requisite. The name Birmingham Roller shall be used to designate those birds that perform in accordance with the high standard set for these rollers since their origin.
Historically, many breeders have referred to the “True” Birmingham Roller. “True” appears to refer to the sense of the roller being genuine, i.e. living up to the standard as opposed to a bird that does not live up to the standard which was referred to as a mere “tumbler”, though the two may have occupied the same nest, according to Pensom. The idea of the use of the word “true” is to create contrast between the bird rolling correctly and a similar bird rolling improperly or not at all. For the purposes of the standard, as outlined here, the term “true” is confusing and redundant, so shall therefore be deleted from reference here, since the standard for the Birmingham Roller, as outlined, deals with only proper, correct, or “true” performance.
Similarly, the literature contains many references to “Champion” rollers. Such rollers may be considered to epitomize an idealistic roller possessing the very best of all qualities including character, type, performance and capacity for production; an exceptional rarity in the breed rather than the standard roller. Therefore this standard will not include this term in referring to the standard for the Birmingham Roller. Likewise, the terms rolling and spinning may be used interchangeably, here, though it is admitted that, in general, spinning denotes a higher quality and speed of performance than does rolling. The specific performance characteristics hereby defined shall include kitting performance, initiation of rolling, frequency of performance, depth of rolling, quality of performance (considering speed and style or wing position during the roll), and exiting the roll.
The ability of Birmingham Rollers to fly and perform in groups known as kits is of paramount importance among the characteristics of standard flight for this breed of pigeon. A tightly-packed formation of rollers within the kit is most highly-favored, and rolling initiated from the front of the kit is favored over rolling from the back of the kit, though either is acceptable and either may be scored in NBRC competitions. The Standard Birmingham Roller is one who develops an awareness of the performance of the other birds within the kit, known as kit sensitivity. Kit sensitivity is a quality that promotes the simultaneous initiation of rolling among many birds within the kit, known as a “break”. A break containing multiple rollers performing quality spins is one of the most valued of Birmingham Roller feats, though quality spinning at greater depths by individual birds is, in itself, appreciated by large numbers of fanciers. NBRC 20-bird competitions require a minimum of five birds initiating the roll simultaneously in a break for scoring purposes. Rollers that time the initiation of the roll within a half-second or more of the other rollers in the break, which is known as a “waterfall”, may also be considered standard performers for the purposes of individual competitions, or in the NBRC 11-bird national championship, and for the purpose of back-yard enjoyment, where such performance is enjoyed and highly valued by many fanciers who focus more on individual performance. The initiation of a break, however, should appear as though the birds have all hit an imaginary wall at the same time in their flight path, causing them to instantaneously initiate the roll. Any five birds or more that begin to roll at the same instant, regardless of any individual rolling that may occur before or after those five birds in the break should be scored as a break. Standard performance of the roll does not include wing-clapping, sailing, tail-sitting or any other maneuvers in flight just before or after the roll is initiated. The roll should begin with a quick snap or instantaneous tuck backward along the line of flight, and end with a “popping out” or instant extension of the wings. However, a roller that sets up for the roll, which can be described as a slight banking move upward in a stalling motion along the line of flight is also considered standard performance. Standard performance for the Birmingham Rollers requires that birds that roll from the kit must return to the kit immediately after the roll is completed. While in flight and returning to the kit after rolling, a roller is not considered an “out bird” unless it assumes a flight path opposite that of the kit on an arc of more than 360 degrees and fails to join the kit upon intersecting it; or if the roller returns to a position more than ten feet above, below, or along side the kit at any time during flight. NBRC 20 bird competition rules state: “A group of five birds is the minimum that can score if the remainder of the kit is returning directly from a roll, have been separated by extreme weather, or have been chased off by a bird of prey.” Kitting is a protective mechanism among pigeons and kits of Birmingham Rollers will react instinctively to the presence of birds of prey in the skies during their flight. Initially a kit may separate due to their presence whether the attack is aggressive (on kit individuals or on the entire kit), or whether the bird of prey is merely flying by inspecting the kit as potential prey. However, standard performance flight characteristics of the Birmingham Roller requires that a bird return to the main body of the kit, that group containing the largest number of birds, within five minutes after the bird of prey is no longer visible in the skies to human observers on the ground. For competition purposes, scoring will resume at that point in time. Any bird that has not returned to the kit at that time is considered an out bird for scoring purposes. Any roller that flies and performs alone, as an individual without regard for the presence of the kit, for any reason, and in spite of any perceived quality and depth of performance, as well as those deeper rollers that strike off alone in a flight pattern other than that of the kit after being with the kit for some period of time, are deemed to have a fault in character or mental strength and are considered out birds and non-standard performers. It should be noted that some deeper performers may appear to be out of the kit during their return to the kit after rolling, but shall not be deemed so, as long as they continue to chase the kit with a flight path parallel or coincident to that of the kit, and eventually intersect the kit. Any such roller that fails to join the kit upon intersecting it is then considered to be an out bird at that point in time.
FREQUENCY OF PERFORMANCE
The standard for performance in frequency of rolling is one standard roll per minute. The minimum frequency accepted within this standard is one standard roll every two minutes. The physical abilities and limitations of the Birmingham Roller restrict its ability to execute standard rolls greater in number than 2-3 times per minute at this point in time, this limitation serving as adequate for the upper limit of the standard for frequency of performance. In other words, if any particular roller is capable of executing standard rolls at a higher frequency, that number shall serve as the standard for the upper limit of frequency of performance. Rollers that execute a standard roll less than one time every two minutes, and those that roll so frequently that they are unable to keep up with the kit are deemed to be outside the standard as hereby established. It is acknowledged that a roller’s age, condition, and diet may all contribute to the issue in the evaluation of whether or not the frequency of performance meets this standard.
DEPTH (DURATION) OF PERFORMANCE
Depth of performance appears to represent the duration in time that the roll impulse is experienced by the roller. Depth is secondary to correct spinning. While the minimum standard of performance in depth for the execution of a standard is herein established at ten feet, it is important to bear in mind that those birds which rotate the most revolution in the shortest space, regardless of depth, are of tremendous value. Regarding those rare rollers that appear to spin in place without much vertical descent, most “slow rate descent” rollers that can be identified DO drop, though they appear to do so more slowly than other rollers. Two seconds of standard performance in the execution of spinning, with minimal descent is quite impressive three seconds-possible; four seconds-probably a stretch. For the purposes of awarding points and multipliers in NBRC competitions, the baseline for the minimum standard is ten feet of depth, 1 second duration of spinning, and awarded a baseline multiplier of 1.0 in competition.
The following table establishes additional depths, durations, and multipliers to be awarded in NBRC 20-bird competitions:
Depth Duration Multiplier
10 ft 1.0 sec 1.0
15 ft 1.5 sec 1.1
20 ft 2.0 sec 1.2
25 ft 1.3
30 ft 2.5 sec 1.4
35 ft 1.5
40 ft 3.0 sec 1.6
45 ft 1.7
50 ft 3.5 sec 1.8
55 ft 1.9
60+ft 4.0+ sec 2.0
As with the standard for frequency of performance, the standard for the upper limit of performance in depth is limited by the physical limitations of the birds imposed by the laws of nature as living creatures. Such abilities and limitations do not necessarily preclude the production of rollers capable of exceeding the upper limits of this standard for depth. If and when this occurs, it will raise the bar for the upper limit standard.
QUALITY OF PERFORMANCE (Speed and wing-position)
The quality of the performance of rollers reflects both the speed and the style or wing position demonstrated by the rolling pigeon. Standard performance for execution of the roll requires that the bird must turn over backwards, spinning clockwise like a ball, and that the bird must fall vertically with the appearance of a straight line from start to finish (with the rare exception of rollers that appear to spin in place with minimal vertical drop.) This simplistic concept of standard performance for rollers, which has been used by the NBRC for decades, will be developed further in this standard. The roll is to be of very high quality, smooth and clean from top to bottom, wings barely visible with no perceptible glitches or wobbling, and with sufficient speed so as to render individual revolutions imperceptible so that the revolutions cannot be counted; approximately eight to twelve revolutions per second. When viewed from the side, a hole representing the center of rotation may or may not be visible, depending on the vantage point of the observer, the body type of the roller, the speed of rotation, and the “tucking” ability of the roller.
During the performance of the roll, the pigeon strokes its wings by reaching toward their head with some part or all of the wing, pulling down and back to propel themselves, and holding the wings down beneath the stomach in a slight pause until the make the next stroke, repeating this pattern of movement over and over again with tremendous speed. Almost all will reach out and up to begin the power stroke, but never above the back or head. In extremely fast strokes, the bird seem to “flash” stoke too fast for the eye to see in what is appears as a rapid series of muscles spasms or muscle twitches; hence the blurring effect. The longer the wing is held in the down position, the more visible it is during the spin. This creates an illusion of wing position known as “style”. Birds that roll smoothly are “in sync”, stroking their wings once for each revolution and at exactly the same time each revolution and bringing their wings together under their stomachs when they are upside down as they finish each stroke. Style is also affected by the speed of the stroke; slower strokes making the wing more visible and creating a different illusion. There are also variations in the timing of the stroke along the arc of rotation during the roll that creates different illusions or styles. Variations in the timing of these dynamics create a variety of illusions that we call style or wing position which affects the appearance of the quality of the spin, and are awarded a numerical score or multiplier in NBRC competitions. The power used by the pigeon in the stroke, as well as the timing, length and speed of stroking, all contribute to the speed of rotation of the pigeon on the axis of rotation. The speed is also given a similar numerical score or multiplier. It is recommended for scoring purposes in NBRC competitions that the kit is given a separate score in each category in order to arrive at a single value for the entire kit after averaging the speed and style displayed by the kit members who perform in each break during the entire scoring period. Bear in mind that for the purpose of evaluating the performance of individual rollers, one might refer to a 1.4 or 1.5 quality pigeon; however, for scoring purposes in NBRC 20-bird competitions, the judge must average the style (and speed) observed in only the rollers that participate in each break throughout the duration of the scoring period, assigning an overall score averaging the performance of those birds. The individual performance of birds and/or waterfall performance observed outside of the breaks should not be taken into consideration in evaluating style and speed for scoring purposes. In NBRC 11-bird competitions, the quality of the performance of each bird must be evaluated and each performance by every spinning roller is to be awarded bonus points for exceptional speed and/or depth.
The upper limit of standard performance, a roller spinning at its best is perceived as a shrinking ball of feathers with no distinguishable anatomy; a blur. For the purposes of NBRC competition, an extremely high speed, shrinking ball, blurred spin in which the speed accelerates with depth is awarded a multiplier of 2.0, regardless of depth, as long as it is within the standard range for depth. Performance faults observed during the execution of the roll shall not be included as standard performance. These include wobbly, loose, slow and sloppy, and/or plate rolling and twizzling, slow low X-wing performers, or slow Axel rollers whose wings are visible angling at less than 45 degrees or less laterally from the side of the roller. Also included in types of faulty performance are wing switching and rolling where the plane of the spin is tilted off of vertical by more than 45 degrees. In other words, the axis of rotation deviates from horizontal by more than 45 degrees.
Rolling style is characterized by the appearance given by the position of the wings during the roll when viewed at 90 degrees to the axis of rotation of the spinning pigeon in front of, behind or below the performance. As described earlier, the length of the wing stroke contributes to the character of the wing position or style, shorter, faster strokes being favored over longer strokes, the latter also tending to be a little slower. Because rolling styles are illusions, correctly identifying their differences is an area that tends to be open to dispute. Various rolling styles are illustrated geometrically in the chart below:
(Wing style chart)
Just below the shrinking blur performance, a slightly less ideal wing style is characterized by the roller spinning so fast that the revolutions are still not capable of being counted and the wing position (style) is not visible. Barring any obvious faults, such execution of performance, also known as ball rolling, is granted multipliers from 1.8-1.9 in NBRC 20-bird competition. Standard execution of the roll, slightly below ideal, is characterized by pigeons whose wing strokes are only slightly shorter than the blur and ball rollers with wings held close to the body, yet appearing somewhat visible approaching a vertical position with wing tips that bow in slightly. It is best described with the symbol ( ). This superior style of performance earns multipliers of 1.6-1.7 in the NBRC 20-bird competition.
The predominant standard wing style for high-end quality performance is the “H” pattern; often described as “wings straight up” or “wings parallel” during the execution of the roll. They are similar to the ( ) rolling style, except the vertical wings do not appear to bow in or touch at the tips. There is a wider separation of the wing tips. H pattern rollers are awarded multipliers of 1.5 in NBRC competitions. ( ) pattern rolling is preferred over H pattern rolling because the wings are kept in tighter during the stroke, and the length of the wing stroke is shorter than in the H pattern, so they look better-more like a spinning ball-from all angles. H pattern rolling, and above, tends to show some of the cleanest spins, fluid and smooth in appearance. Viewed from the side, if the stroke is short and fast, the outstanding illusion of a spinning ball is created very effectively with H-pattern rolling. A slower, longer stroking version of the H pattern is the U pattern which is awarded a 1.4 in NBRC competition.
Lesser rolling styles are characterized by the degree to which the wings appear to project out to the sides of the rolling pigeon, relative to the axis on which rolling occurs. The “A-pattern” or “A-frame” rollers do pull their wing tips together at the top of the stroke as desired, but they tend not to be particularly fast in the roll, and they tend to have the longest stroke because they start with their wings projecting laterally at nearly 180 degrees from the body of the pigeon, parallel to the axis of rotation. The wings in this style are more visible than in any style yet described, especially from the side, parallel to the axis of rotation, and in front of, behind, or underneath the axis of rotation at 90 degrees to the axis. They tend to be so visible because the wings are stretched out laterally away from the body, and then brought together under the roller so that the wings touch. A-frame rollers generally are awarded 1.3 multipliers in NBRC competitions.
Continuing down the scale of quality, among the most common of rolling styles we have is the “X-pattern” roller, which varies from High X to Low X. In these patterns, too, the wings are clearly visible, projecting out to the sides of the rolling pigeon at varying angles giving an obvious “X” appearance to the style. They can vary in both the speed and length of the stroke which affects the appearance and quality of the roll. Some are ugly, if they take longer, slower strokes, but most rollers seem to take short strokes with only a slight outward stretch of the wings giving the High X appearance with less visible wings. These will look like a nice spinning ball when viewed from the side along the axis of rotation and underneath, and some can even blur the wings with this style. Because of this, the High X-pattern, especially with short strokes and speed, is favored by many fanciers over the A-frame roller, and likewise, earns a multiplier of 1.3 in NBRC 20-bird competitions. However, if the strokes are long and slow, and the speed of rotation slow, the wings become clearly visible projecting out at 45 degrees from the sides of the roller, and we have the very mediocre and less desirable Medium and Low X-wing roller, which qualifies for only 1.1-1.2 multipliers in NBRC competition.
“Axel rollers” are a rarer type of performers which give the appearance that the wings project out horizontally from the sides of the bird. The strokes are short with the wings fully-extended and the speed of rotation of the roll is very slow. It is difficult to imagine how a bird can even roll with both wings held straight out, which likely accounts for the scarcity of this type of performance. It can also be very difficult to define the point at which Axel Rolling merges into Low X rolling. Axel rollers do not meet the performance standard of the Birmingham Roller and should not be scored in NBRC competitions. However, a minimum standard performance, also rare, has also been identified that is sometimes mis-identified as Axel-rolling when viewed from in front of, behind, or underneath the roller. This style is similar to A-frame rolling where the wings are visible, but are only somewhat projected laterally, usually only the last joint of the wings or the wing tips; and the wings are not brought together under the stomach of the bird. The speed of rotation is extremely fast and the stroke is more moderate in length. Since the roller takes smaller wing strokes than the A-frame roller and the wings don’t stick out to the sides as much, and do not fully extend when stroking (like the Axel Roller), they look even better from the side than does the A-frame roller. In fact, when viewed from the side, they are often mistaken for H-style rollers or better. This minimum standard performer earns a 1.0 multiplier in NBRC competitions.
Each and every wing style described here, depending on the consistency of the spin, the speed of rotation of the spin, as well as any introduction of identifiable glitches such as wobbling, wing-switching, loose or sloppy rolling, etc. would not be considered standard performance, and should not be scored. Wing position alone is not the sole determining factor. As pointed out earlier, true quality of standard performance is composed of both wing position (style) AND speed. Style, speed and faults are all the result of different degrees of inconsistencies created by the rolling pigeon varying the speed, timing and length of the stroke. All rolling styles have to have speed, or they are not considered standard performance. Short, tight stroking is always preferred over long stroking as it contributes to both the speed of rotation, as well as, the tight illusion of a spinning ball of feathers.
EXITING THE ROLL
Upon completion of the roll, the Birmingham Roller should finish cleanly with the wings snapping out away from the body of the pigeon in order to stop both the rotation of rolling and the vertical descent of the roller. There should be no wing-switching, tail-riding or plate-rolling at the end, and the roller’s flight path should be the same as it was when the rolling performance was initiated. Notice we do not say “….in the same direction as the kit”. This is for the obvious reason that the kit may change the direction of its flight path while a bird is rolling deep. Certain rollers seem to develop an awareness of where the kit is located at the end of spinning and have developed an uncanny ability to execute a quick flip, if the kit has changed directions, so as to reverse its path of flight and make a quick return back to the kit. By no means is this considered a fault and the performance of these rollers should be considered as standard and scoreable in NBRC competitions.
There are several things that will cause a roller to exit the roll not facing the direction it faced when the roll was initiated: 1. wing-switching will turn bird 180 degrees each time it does so. If it occurs more than once, it may or may not alter the direction the bird is facing upon exiting the roll; yet it is a fault. 2. As the roller spins downward, it may slowly corkscrew or twist, as it drops, so that it will exit the roll facing in another direction (if the depth of performance is sufficient.) This too is a fault. 3. Winds can also have an impact on this and cause the bird to exit the roll in a different direction in a roller that otherwise performs straight and true. This is not a true fault and should not be considered to be one. It takes critical observation to distinguish these differences, especially in breaks of any significant size.
There is no other class of performer which gives so much satisfaction as the Birmingham Roller, both in the air and in the breeding pen. However, it must be understood that the Birmingham Roller is one of the most difficult of birds to cultivate, due to the complexity of its performance. Only fanciers possessed of patience and determination will be successful breeding them, because little can be accomplished in a short time. In striving to produce the ideal spinning Birmingham Roller, breeders should consider, first, confining their choice of breeding material to those individuals which conform to the desired standard of performance during flight. Each year, the fancier will recognize such quality performance, and any outstanding, mature bird should be considered for use in the stock loft after being proven in the air for two years.
Genes for qualities such as constitution, temperament, intelligence and reproductive capacity, should not be ignored less they be lost or dissipated, not through the working of some mysterious force, but because little effort has been made to retain or cultivate them. Any hereditary character which is ignored or taken for granted, instead of being carefully observed and consistently bred for, may be lost in a breed or strain, possibly beyond recall. The careful consideration of all desired qualities is essential if they are to be preserved or enhanced. This applies equally to structure, constitution, temperament, or performance ability. The mature Birmingham Roller is equipped to control the quality and depth of the spin, especially when coming to land. Rolling ability may certainly be stabilized and improved by various methods, including, inbreeding, line-breeding, and family outcrosses, if sufficient care is given to the choice of rollers used for breeding in each generation, and is accompanied by sensible observation of performance. Weaknesses that may appear do so because the parents or other ancestors carry the genetic factors responsible. Through these various breeding methodologies, all qualities, whether good or bad, which lie latent or hidden in a strain, may be brought to light. However, breeding is not a creative force and its effects are limited by the nature and content of the genetic material to which it (breeding) is applied. The conception of the Birmingham Roller as a breed possessing an unlimited degree of plasticity, and capable of being modified in any direction by selection, is mistaken.
Likewise, the assumption that by selection we can ensure that each generation will automatically show a progressive development of the attribute the selection upon which the selection is based is equally flawed. Selection can never cause the emergence of a quality, whether physical or mental, that is not already represented genetically in the stock used for breeding. Selection can only bring about the chance for the particular arrangement of genetic material that may produce the specific physical, mental, and performance qualities that one seeks to produce. The only way to effect improvement in any direction is to make sure that the appropriate genes are present in the pigeons mated, through the laborious process of trial and error and critical observation of performance, and then to fix them in the strain in a goodly portion of the birds that are bred in that strain through selective breeding.
There is no formula available that can establish a Birmingham Roller as a product noteworthy among pigeons except the evaluation and praise of experienced and qualified authorities on the breed who are able to frequently witness outstanding birds in flight. The only guarantee a breeder can have of the true quality of the rollers that he has produced is that the birds have met with the approval of other qualified breeders, who are also informed in the intricacies of cultivating the Birmingham Roller. The NBRC seeks to provide such a venue for its members through the competitive process in sponsoring National Championship competitions, though other effective means may be available to the fancier through local, regional, and state organizations. This written standard seeks to supplement the individual opinions of judges who may be experienced flyers of spinning rollers, helping to insure that performance in flying competitions will be scored more consistently so that confusion, as to what constitutes standard performance, will no longer reign. It is anticipated that roller organizations will adopt this standard for utilization in the encouragement of beginners and novices who are unfamiliar with the fine distinctions of roller performance, but also to mitigate changing personal taste in performance among fanciers with more experience in the breeding of rollers. This will serve to improve the odds that all flyers of the Birmingham Roller will be more successful through more participation and more consistent judging, thereby achieving personal gratification and status through the achievement of awards, such as the status of Master Flyer.