2012 Interview courtesy of the Utah State Roller Club
1- When did you get started out with roller pigeons?
2- Who did you get your first baldheads rollers from?
Frank Farrington. I bought six (6) birds from him for $1.00 each.
3- The Baldhead Birmingham Roller is what you are best known for, what are some of the other breeds you have tried?
Mookies, Clean Leg Tumblers and Oriental Rollers.
4-Why did you stay with the Baldhead Rollers?
They had color and patterns. The parents were docile and you could breed all the things you wanted out of them. They had all the qualities of what I wanted to breed.
5- Opal is one of my favorite factors/ conditions, tell us about your opals.
I received my first opal from John Fife. I bred these but was not getting anymore white bars. I matted a red bar cock with a checkered hen and got an opal white bar. Thats when I first recognized that opal was a condition of a feather rather than a color. I got a white bar out of that pair because the hen was carrying the opal factor.My questions were how did I get it? Why was it there? I learned to recognize it was not white it was a factor.From then on I started to look at the feathers and the condition of them to recognize the opal factor. The opal highlights the color of the feather. I came to recognize this in the young because the feather color was changed to an extent. Also, if you mate an opal with an opal the outcome can be lethal to the unborn. I witnessed the death of many healthy young birds in the eggs which were the result of matting an opal with an opal. It was not worth the risk.
6- Tell us about the “Red Badge ” from your friend Paul Bradford.
My birds were rolling so often that after six minutes they were worn out. I had a pair, a grizzle hen and a blue cock that were good high fliers. I used all their posterity to get my birds to fly higher which was successful after a lot of trial and error. I used a red badge offspring from Paul to get my birds to fly higher and still maintain their performance. I believe this red badge cock Paul had came from Gus Litchenwall who lived somewhere in the Pacific Northwest.
7- How did the color ” Brown” come about in the roller pigeons.
To my knowledge no rollers in the world had brown color until Gary Gilbert crossed a brown African Owl with a Birmingham Roller. Unfortunately shortly after that Gary harassed his wife and she shot him dead! Wayne Meyers had a brown baldhead hen that he raised from Gilberts cross. Then Wayne died but prior to his death he told me I could have any of his birds I wanted. I took the little brown baldhead hen and started the the family of brown baldheads rollers.
8- What were some of the obstacles you had to overcome with the addition of the color genes?
It was more or less learning what you could do I guess. You had to recognize how you obtain the color or pattern. A lot of guess work. You could never do it without experience. Recognition was the key. I did not have mosaics until I introduced brown. That was all trial and error.
9- You are my roller mentor, who was yours?
Thank you. I have enjoyed your visits since you were a young boy! I really did not have a mentor as no-one was pursuing, or had the same goals, as I did with my birds.
10- Are there any favorite birds you could tell us about?
I never singled one bird out except I had a little hen that had the type of style of what I was pursuing. She was a little black baldhead.
11- I now that you are an avid gardener and worked in the landscape industry. What are some of your other hobbies and interests?
Family! I enjoyed pursuing my beautiful wife! I also built and raced and raced stock-cars from 1947 until the sixties. I like horses and owned a mustang from age 15-17. My friends and I had a riding club where we would meet and chase Jack rabbits. I was also a boxer in the Navy on the ship the USS Hyde, I served in WWII.
12- How did the “Tight check or Closed Check” get into rollers?
There are three different checkers. The checker,the Checker-checker and the light print checker. The The light (Tight/ closed ) checker is from the homer pigeon. The Checker-checker is more of a loose print checker. The Checker is a standard checker. I believe from a combination of the birds the the tight checker or closed check came about.
13- When did you get your first Opal pigeons?
John Fife sent away and got a blue bar cock with white bars. That was the first opla I had ever seen.
Gar Gilbert crossed and owl pigeon with a roller pigeon and got a brown roller. This was the start of the brown bird. Gary let Wayne Myers have a brown with opal. Wayne had a brown bar opal baldhead hen. Prior to Wayne’s death he gave me the opportunity to have any birds I wanted. I brought the brown hen home which was the start of my brown birds.
I believe the closed checkers appeared when we combined the other checkers. I cant say exactly how the closed checkers came about but combining the three different patterns eventually produced the closed checkers.
14- Where the Monson Bell Necks developed in part from your stock?
15- You told me that you had several goals to achieve with these birds, what were the goals?
Colors and patterns in a performing roller. The looks and the ability!
16- What was your favorite thing about the birds?
That they were docile and took care of their young ones. They were not wild birds. Even the young, before they could fly, would be in the coop on the ground and come by my feet nudging me to lift them up for a drink of water. They knew I fed them and they were loyal to me. I could be down the street on my way home and whistle for my birds and they would fly to meet me. Although it was not something I condoned, they would enjoy eating out of my hand. The birds were my gift from God. Maybe he entrusted them to me.
17-Whe people talk about roller pigeons, the name Norm Drecksel always rises to the top. Your known in the hobby as “The Master of the Baldheads” That has to be a great feeling! What do you feel is your greatest accomplishment within the hobby?
Spinning ability, Color and patterns, I have accomplished my goals!
18- As a kid I used to ride the bus to your house, how did you have the patience for a kid, to come over and talk pigeons?
I was interested in teaching kids. I wanted them to know what it was all about and because of my love for pigeons I desired everyone to have some. It was never about the money, award or trophies but promoting the breed. I remember a little ten year old boy, maybe it was you, (yep )who came by and wanted to pay $10.00 for my Opal Black Checker. I told him it was not for sale because I had to learn how I got it. It was my first black opal. ( I ended up getting 4 blues for the same $10.00 )
19- Paul Bradford, Thomas S. Monson, John Fife and you started the “Utah State Roller Club” What were your goals of the club, and do you feel they have been met?
My club goals were the rolling abilities, colors, patterns and the type of birds. As far as I am concerned, my club goals were met. Thomas S. Monson was very busy being an Apostal for the ” Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints” however he participated when he could. I suppose he still has the type of birds he has had for the past fifty years.
20- What advise can you share with us concerning these marvelous little creatures we call the “Baldhead Birmingham Roller” ?
Patience! Patience! Patience! Trial and error. Nothing ventured nothing gained.
Patience! Patience! Patience! If you don’t succeed try again.
Patience! Patience! Patience! Know what you’re looking for and what you want to obtain.
Patience! Patience! Patience! Use a family of birds, don’t get a bunch of birds from here and there. If it doesn’t work, don’t try it that way again!