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pigeon Outstanding Breeder Frank Reece pigeons
By: Joe Marlett
May/June 1997

This is a tribute to Frank Reece of Anderson, South Carolina. Frank, at age 43, is not well known nationally but to me, represents a thousand other outstanding breeders of the performing Birmingham Roller Pigeon in this country today. He has owned, bred and flew the Rollers for 30 years. Sold, gave away loaned and traded birds with many famous well know fanciers in this country and some overseas. Yet, due to his quite manner and laid back nature he has acquired a vast knowledge of Rollers and enjoys the friendship and respect of many fanciers. Frank is from the same mold as Nick Loshuk of Ohio, whom not many of us had ever heard of until he won the Paul Vaughn Invitational Fly in 1990. Larry Hubbard, of Kentucky, is another one. I have never read a Roller article from Larry or Nick but when fly scores are reported their names is there at or near the top.

Frank first got started with Rollers in 1960, when his friend Johnny Hayes, who lived down the street gave him two pairs. He is confident that Johnny taught him more about Rollers than any book he has ever read to this day and that is several in number. Today, Frank is still flying a Pensom strain he has kept pedigrees on for 21 years, with few outcrosses. He is not sure however, if there is really a Pensom strain as such. He believes Mr. Pensom owned and bred an accumulation of Rollers from different lofts in England and sold the offspring to fanciers in the USA, but Mr. Pensom was himself, a master of the master breeders. Frank met Mr. Sepio Perez who lived down the street from Pensom and was told that the Rollers flown in South Carolina were better than Pensom ever flew.

Frank first owned the famous "Old Almond Cock" (a dark tort, in fact) that was the sire of many good Rollers in South Carolina, but the best bird he has ever raised was black marked IRA 6878-82. Now, a lot of the best lofts are flying offspring from this bird. Over the years, some of Frank's birds have ended up in the lofts of: John Castro, Don Green, James Turner, Don Simpson, Carl Hardesty, Jerry Boehmann and Ellis McDonald to name a few, but he does not know the exact use of them now. He considers Don Simpson to be a Master Breeder of quality Rollers in his area.

Frank is convinced that about 20 birds gives the best kit action for group competition scoring and 10-15 for individual bird scoring. He thinks that a lot of the competitors are breeding for too much depth in their birds in order to receive maximum points while scoring 1-2-3 for depth. Velocity and style, to Frank, are much more important but some judges continue to score the deep ones although the quality of roll is just not there. Therefore, when the deep inferior birds win a contest more and more of them are bred for at the expense of the shorter and more stylish spinners. I must admit that statement is true in our own club at times. How deep is deep when flying competition? In my own kit, I like my kit birds to roll a good depth but not so deep that they cannot fly straight back to the remainder of their teammates without circling, but I can't speak for others.

Frank is convinced after flying Rollers for 30 years that good performing kits that are frequent, high velocity and stylish come in all types, shapes, lengths, keel lengths and sizes. There is no specific type any fancier can put on that. Through the years, he has had all types of birds roll correctly for him and has seen two birds exactly the same in “type” but be completely different in the air.

What should we pay for a Roller? Well, Frank believes that no price can be put on another man's efforts other than the breeder himself. A fair mutual agreement can normally be reached after considering feed, time spent and knowledge of the breeder. His strain of Rollers develops normally starting at from 4 months old to 12 months and most are stable, but he has a small percentage of rolldowns from both early and late developers Why does a champion young bird become sloppy for life the second year in the air? Frank thinks this may be contributed to longer flight feathers after the molt or growth in the keel and overall length of the bird, but not exactly sure. He has seen this a lot though and agrees with those who advocate at least two years of fly time before pulling the birds to breed.

Frank advises new fanciers to read, read, read and join the PFRC and other roller clubs. Find several kits that you like and visit the lofts several times and ask the owner questions during each visit. Visit pigeon shows even though you don't like Show Rollers or other breeds. You will be surprised how much you call learn by just listening and watching. Frank Reece is one of the Co-Founders of the Piedmont Flying Roller Club.

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