An extremely popular pigeon, the Birmingham Roller Pigeon is a breed of domesticated pigeon that is beloved by people the world over for its uncanny ability to somersault in the air.
For some reason, these birds have taken to performing a strange type of aerobatics.
They are known for tumbling across the sky in seemingly perilous arcs, before somehow setting themselves right and flying on as normal.
Onlookers have described the sight of a Birmingham Roller Pigeon in full somersault as if the bird was about to fall to the ground. In a group, they look like dive bombers.
They can plummet towards the earth like this, and yet they manage to right themselves and carry on flying.
It’s unknown why they do this, but it seems to be a genetic trait.
Regardless of why, they must enjoy it – and it surely shows their mastery of the skies!
The Birmingham Roller Pigeon comes from the city of Birmingham in the United Kingdom.
Birmingham is an English city located in the Midlands – it’s the second biggest city in the United Kingdom, with a population of over 1,000,000! It is believed that the Birmingham Roller Pigeon was developed in the 1940s by hobbyists in the Birmingham area.
Gentlemen known as Mr Pensom and Bill Richards are believed to have played significant parts in the development of the Birmingham Roller Pigeon, amongst many others.
However, as to who exactly is most responsible for the development of the breed as it is today is perhaps impossible to determine.
It is known that the Birmingham Roller Pigeon of today comes from birds that were bred selectively in and around Birmingham for their ability to both roll and fly.
The pigeons have a behavior called tumbling.
Normally, birds known as tumblers can’t fly at all after the age of 6 months due to this behavior.
However, the Birmingham Roller Pigeon was selectively bred by these people to tumble in mid-air without losing the ability to fly, creating the magnificent aerobatic breed that we have today.
Birmingham Roller Pigeons have been exported from Britain for decades now. The breed is now known worldwide, and has thousands of breeders!
The Birmingham Roller Pigeon is known for it’s ability to flip over in the air.
It is a majestic and beautiful sight, especially when the birds do it in a large group, called a kit.
The sight is often akin to skilled pilots performing aerobatics – such is the precision and control these birds have over their flight.
The sight can also appear to be alarming for the unknowing observer.
The birds can appear to lose control of their aerodynamics completely, as if they were stunned and plummeting to the earth – and yet in an instant they miraculously regain control.
Again, this is like the maneuvers performed by a modern fighter jet, a machine designed to be aerodynamically unstable for the precise purpose of being able to perform such wild and crazy flying.
The Birmingham Roller Pigeon is bred for its ability to somersault and dive, so it should be no surprise that this very ability is the reason why so many choose to keep and breed them!
They are simply fascinating to watch flying in the open.
The way that they repeatedly tumble and dive alone is fascinating enough – but that they often choose to do it in sync with each other is often breathtaking.
Just the sheer spectacle alone of watching them in flight is enough to keep their breeders and owners fascinated for a lifetime.
They are perhaps less famed for their appearance, but they can and are also be bred for this purpose.
The Birmingham Roller Pigeon is not usually chosen for its appearance, but for its abilities in flight. However, they are not unattractive birds.
The Birmingham Roller Pigeon is most commonly found with red and blue coloring, and often an iridescence around and near the neck.
The most basic colors of roller pigeons are ash red, blue/black, and brown, with differing patterns also affecting the appearance of the bird.
Some patterns that one can find them in are barless, barred, checked, and T-check.
There are many families of Birmingham Roller Pigeons across the world.
These are often names after the person who first developed the family, and they can have traits and tendencies more specific to each family.
Some Birmingham Roller Pigeon names include Casperson, Fireballs, Hardesty, Jaconette, Whittinghams, and Westfall.
The Birmingham Roller Pigeon is bred for and used in competitions around the world! There are thousands of breeders in countries all across the globe who enter their birds and kits into competition.
There are two main types of bird that are bred for competition – here are some details about them!
Show Rollers are not typically bred for their ability to roll in flight, but are chosen more on their appearance. They are typically larger than performing birds, but are less agile in flight.
Performing rollers are Birmingham Roller Pigeons that are bred to be flown.
Of course, not every flyer of the breed enters into competition – but there are actually many competitions between owners of Birmingham Roller Pigeons from countries all over the world, judged by an independent panel of experts.
Since 1991, there has even been a World Cup for flyers of Birmingham Roller Pigeons. Judges travel across the world to find the best flyer!
In the World Cup, kits can range in size from 15 to 20 birds.
They are judged on their rolling in flight. Their rolling as a group is scored, with at least 5 birds needing to roll at the same time to score.
After either 20 minutes, or two birds landing (whichever happens first), the scoring is over.
Birmingham Roller Pigeons, like all birds, love flight – and they are great at it.
However, accidents and incidents can of course happen in flight. Bad and inclement weather can strike, which can be dangerous for the birds.
Being smaller birds, Birmingham Roller Pigeons can also sometimes be prey for larger birds!