Roller pigeons can be a delight to watch as they turn and tumble in the air. A favorite breed to many pigeon trainers, the birds are a fascination to many. Though you can't actually train a roller to roll, as it is part of its intuitive nature, with proper training, you can get the most out of your birds' talent. On the opposite end, without proper training and handling, you can ruin even the best birds--they will become lazy and less entertaining.
- Skill level:
Choose the right birds. Gain roller pigeons either through your own breeding or through a knowledgable fancier. Start with squeekers (babies), since they are more easily trained than older birds. Training with older birds can and does work, but it takes considerable more time. Part of this is the fact that breaking bad habits can be difficult. Purchase breeding stock from a pigeon loft known for bearing good birds; then, raise and train the youngsters that you have bred.
Begin training while birds are still in the nest. Place a little feed in the box for the youngs' parents. As you place the food, whistle at your birds; they will learn to associate this with food. Before long, the babies will peck at the feed, and soon realize that you are the food source. Soon, they will squeak and beg for food whenever you come near in the loft.
Take the babies out of their nestbox and place them on the lower perches of the breeding loft once they are eating well on their own. Here, they will familiarize with the other youngsters, yet their parents can still feed them. At this point, they will be going to the flying loft soon, and that transition can be less stress-inducing if they already know other birds.
Feed them twice a day, always whistling as you place the feed. Make sure that all are eating and drinking enough; if this is not the case, put them back with the parents for a few days. Watch for scalping from the cock birds. Keeping a box near the floor for them to hide in seems to help.
Place the young pigeons in a kit box, which is simply a small loft for flying rollers. The small size prevents birds from flying much inside. Most kit boxes can be enclosed to keep out most of the daylight; this will help the birds to kit and perform better.
Start trap training a few days after the kit box process. A trap allows the birds into the loft, but not out. The simplest traps are small windows that the bird can squeeze through. There is a landing board on the outside but not on the inside of the loft. Show each bird how the trap works, and push them through it several times. Leave a little food in the loft as you train them to go through, and continue to associate the whistle with the food. Repeat this process twice a day for a couple days.
Place the birds on top of the loft at a time when they are hungry. Close the trap so that the birds have to spend some time outside. Open the trap and call them, and from training, they should trap right in. Only put the birds out on fairly calm days for the first few weeks.
Release the birds. After your birds are settled, open the door and clap your hands. Some of the older birds will fly out on their own. After a couple of days, lightly toss the brids that stay in the loft rather than trying to fly. Be gentle so they aren't scared too much. Soon, they will understand that clapping means it's time to fly.
Introduce a few older birds to the kit once the majority of the young are staying in the air from a few minutes up to a half hour. The young will learn from their advanced flying friends.