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pigeon Try Some Color pigeons
By: Doug Brown

Published in National Birmingham Roller Club
March/April 1998 Bulletin

I would like to take the time and thank everyone investing in our project of breeding spinning, colorful rollers. Randy Gibson and I have worked hard to breed spinning rollers with color, and with the help of others who are doing the same we’re well on our way.

We have been fortunate to have bred some truly fine spinners in most of the factors, colors and patterns and have found that a good spinner can come in any, sometimes in nearly the same number as the quote “normal” colored birds. Success in breeding these different birds lies in the birds used to create them.

Our philosophy has and will continue to be “From the Air First”. I was once told that I would ruin my birds if I strictly chose birds from the air. Well, all I know from talking to people who breed animals for work, hunting, etc. is that they never breed from those that do not do as they want them to. They are looking for stock that shows the highest expression of the traits that want in them. I truly believe in this concept. I also believe that we can find birds that roll exactly the way we want and have them look the way we want them to also. Our “color birds” as people refer to them and term I will use from this point forward are descendants of very best pigeons we could obtain. Anything less wouldn’t have been worth the effort.

The path we choose to accomplish what we sought has taken some time in many cases because we really don’t like to breed color to color. This is sometimes a necessity, however. If you use quality birds from the air is doesn’t hurt all that much provided you do it on a regular basis. You can create problems if you change your philosophy to color first and air second. That must be in the back of your mind all of the time when you are breeding.

We have found it much easier to breed color birds that are dominant in their expression rather than recessive. You will find more birds that are both the color you want and have the type of spin you want since the color shows up much more often. You will have many more individuals to work with in the air.

We have a family of andalusians (indigo factor on black) that we have had great success with. The blacks in our families have been very good spinners and the original andalusians came from James Turner of Greenwood, South Carolina. The birds that he sent us were already spinners so we were able to short cut. We have quite a number of very good spinners in this family. The best andalusians come from poorer black selfs. It seems that the shiny blacks make the andalusians too dark in their expression. We like them on the “silvery” side.

Dominant opal has been a real learning experience. A very important piece of information that we came across was how bronze affects the dominant opal. As you may or may not know, dominant opal makes white bars on what would be normally blue bars. It also makes white checks on what would normally be plain checks. It is best used on the blue family; it just shows up much clearer on the blue than on the ash red family. Don’t be afraid to use the ash reds because so many of them are such good quality in the air. We found that if you use blue family pigeons that have a lot of bronze on their wings and flights that which would normally be white on the offspring will be a pinkish shade. Since we found this, we are always on the look out for blue birds that have bronze. We have come to call them “Powder Blues”. This is also problem because it is hard to come across a lot of good blue bars that are really of quality in the air. That is why I am willing to use a red bar now and then, because I find quite a number of these that roll the way I want them.

On Recessive Red the Dominant Opal looks yellow, and if your recessive masks blue bars you can sometimes get birds that are recessive with white bars. They are quite unusual and not easy to come by.

Almond has always been a puzzle to me. I can’t figure out why so many almond cocks are so large. This isn’t isn’t always true but it is a significant number. It is odd because all of the non-Almonds from these matings are usually quite normal in size. Almond hens don’t seem to follow this trend. Also real quality spinning almond cocks are not easy to come by, but there are a lot of good quality hens and there are good quality birds that are of the normal variety produced from these matings.

The recessive traits come along slower because of the difficulty coming up with recessive cocks. The recessive traits that we have been working are Dilute, Reduced, Barless, and Recessive red.

Recessive reds are very common these days and there are many really fine ones in the air. You can improve this expression if you really want to. Bronze really makes recessive red dark. When you see dark checks with patches of bronze on their shields they will enrich the expression of the recessive reds they produce. T-pattern birds that are used in producing recessive red will show young that have more even recessive red. So will the use of spread blue (black). Also, look for blacks that have been sheen to them. They will really make some nice recessive reds.

Another recessive trait that we have had success with is Dilute. This factor changes the expression of what you see. Dilute ash reds are called yellow checks and cream bars. Dilute blues are called silverbars and dun checks. The spreads in both of those colors are also very attractive. In recessive red you have a bird that is what we call yellow from the tip of its tail to the top of its head. Dilute also affects all of the other factors that we have been dealing with up to now. It just softens and lightens the intensity of the normal expression of what you expect to see.

Reduced is a truly beautiful factor both on the blue and ash red families. If you have bronze in your family it causes the factor to turn more like a peach color on the birds. It is difficult one in some ways because only cocks can carry it. Hens cannot carry it; they are either reduced or normal. If you mate a Reduced cock to a normal hen all hens will be reduced, but all the cocks will be normal and carry the reduced. If you mate a cock carrying reduced to a reduced hen you can get reduced hens and cocks, and again all the normal cocks will be carrying reduced. A normal cock carrying reduced mated to a normal hen can only produce reduced hens and you will not know which of the normal cocks is carrying reduced unless you breed them to a reduced hen. So you can see this is quite a project of genetics. This is also how the dilute family works. Reduced to reduced will only produce reduced. This is a dangerous way to go unless the birds you are using are quite good spinners. If so then it is the fastest way to get what you want. We do it once in a while because reduced cocks are so hard to make conventionally.

Another really nice factor is Barless. It is just what it says. There are no bars. It looks like a blue bar that someone has erased the bars. It is strictly a recessive pattern check and normal bars can carry it, both hens and cocks. It makes for an easy improvement. In fact every thing that I have written about can carry the barless pattern. It means that you can use any great spinner to a barless bird and have young that carry it. You can then mate any of these birds together and get barless quickly.

These are just a sampling of what is out there for us if we are willing to take a chance. Many people are working on these projects and because of it there will be in the future more truly talented birds of color. Birds that any breeder of performing rollers would be proud to show anyone. Don’t be afraid of the color birds for good pigeons will be respected. So put good ones up and breed only from the best ones.

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