Utah State Roller Club

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Craig Smith

1-Tell us a little about you, who is Craig Smith? Craig Smith is a retired (worked at BYU for forty years) who has had pigeons off and on for 50 plus years, mostly off.  I am the Manager of the H&R Block in Payson, and have worked for H&R Block for the past nine years, before that I worked for Macey's Grocery stores for twenty years. I have spent two summers at the new BSA camp above Mt Pleasant working as Program Director. I love to garden, hunt and fish, watch BYU Sports and especially raise pigeons.
2-Tell us some of your struggles these first few years in the hobby. When I told my family that I was getting some pigeons, I received a lot of flack. But when I came home with 4 bald heads, every one of the family was hooked. The biggest struggle was trying to find Bald heads for sale,  I am always behind, so it is no surprise that I joined the Club a few weeks after the Club had auctioned all of Norm's birds. Thanks to Ray Crumbie, David Corneal, and Jason Hoaglund for selling or giving me my birds.  Most of my breeders are still birds from these men.
3- Any great triumphs? Three come to mind, First was when, after Judging my birds, Thayne Lee told me that I had the best kit of Baldheads that he had ever seen.  Of  course the BOP thought the same thing and ate all but two of them. Second, was when my foundation hen (Light Almond from David Corneal) was named the best of breed at the Hurricane "Color Country Pigeon Show". She went on to win best of the flying breeds, but did not place in the Best of show.
But my altime high was one morning this year, I was flying my birds and at least 17 or 18 rolled. Not all the same distance, but it was the neatest thing I have ever seen.
4-  You have served as a regional director for the Utah State Roller Club, in doing this and visiting so many fliers what was your greatest take away? I am just starting my service as director, but I have enjoyed working with others, ( I am working with Jon to have one Judge do Idaho and Utah at the same time, saving costs and maybe getting a real good Judge) I hope to visit every member in the club this year, and see their set up.
5- Tell us about your current birds.  Working with Norm's Baldheads and Almonds. I love to work with colors and will hope for the good roller now and then.
6- Any mentors helping you along the way?  Have to thank Guil Rand for really helping me get started.  I would go with Guil to as many fly's as I could, and as we drove between stops I would go over my list of questions.  Also I have visited some of the members of the club on other than fly's and always gotten good advise.
7- What are your goals with your birds? My goals are simple. I want to receive at least one point on the Master Flyer list.  I actually meet my daily goals by spending time with the birds, but I want to do my part in the growth of the Club. If I never win a fly, that is OK and I will continue to compete. I love fly days.
8- As a new person in the hobby, what do you wish would have happened with your birds? What would have helped you along better? I bought Dave Gerkey (SP) book and also Guil Rands book, so I had a lot of help in those books. I think the  Club should charge $5.00 more the first year and give a newby Guil's book.
9- What does the hobby need right now? More exposure. I don't meet too many people that aren't interested in my birds. My neighborhood is great, a couple of home next to mine, have said we could watch my birds from their back yards. I was the only member to show birds at the Utah County Fair.  When we get new members, we all need to help them with decent birds.
10- Any last thoughts?  Thanks to everyone for being so helpful to me.  Where else can you get Guil's pancakes and chilli, Nick's hot chocolate, a kiss on the neck from a llama, and the chance to say that Tom Monson has been in your back yard?

Cliff Ball NBRC Vice President


In 2007 when I moved to Thatcher Utah I was on the Internet one day and came across a photo of a group of men standing in front of a kit box. I do not remember all of the men in the photo, but I do remember the man in the center! It was Cliff Ball he had a good ten inches on all the other men, I thought for a second they were all sitting down and Cliff was the only one standing! The thought of the photo still makes me smile.
Cliff is the National Birmingham Roller Clubs Vice-President and is know for his undying commitment to the breed. He is a very accomplished breeder of some fine kits and champion performers. Cliff is know for his eloquent writings and firm commitment to his beliefs. His stand up personality is seen through his writings and his enthusiasm for the hobby.
Cliff always participates in the hobby, his generosity with his time, energy and even birds has helped many on their quest to fly the best. Cliff has sent me some fine birds of which I greatly enjoy. I thank him for taking the time to answer these questions.
David Curneal
1- Tells about Cliff, where do you live, work etc.
I first started keeping rollers in Canton, Ohio, in 1960 when my father bought my first birds for me from one of the first importers of rollers, Rich Krupke, also of Canton, Ohio. In 1963, I became a junior member of the Akron-Canton Roller Club, whose members consisted of such veterans of the sport as Frank Dallas, Wally Fort, Matt King, Howard Bealle, Roger Baker, and Walter Harter.  That year I also won my first show award, receiving a trophy for Best Old Roller Cock at the Stark County Fair in Ohio which was awarded to me, at the age of 14, by Joe Quinn. After a long hiatus from the hobby, during which I obtained a degree in dentistry from The Ohio State University, I was married/divorced three times, and I raised a family of two sons and one daughter after moving from Ohio to Greensboro, North Carolina. I returned to the roller hobby in 2004 and have been active and supportive in all phases of the breeding, training, and flying of Birmingham Rollers since that time. I am an active breeder, trainer and flyer of the James Turner family of Birmingham Rollers, breeding about 200 rollers each year. I have never sold a pigeon, but regularly donate kits and breeding pairs of rollers to NBRC and World Cup auctions, local and regional roller events, and to new fanciers in the hobby, to whom I attempt to serve as mentor and coach when I am needed. In order to gain experience breeding and training rollers.

2- Tells us about your birds.
I have worked with a number of families of rollers, including Pensoms, Schoenings, Jaconettes, Scott Campbells, Higgins, and Don Simpsons. I find that every family has its own unique qualities, and its own inherent set of problems to work with. As one might expect, the individual birds that stand out in my mind are birds that I have flown in my own back yard; primarily because I have had the opportunity to observe them a number of times under different flying conditions. One is a Don Simpson "Old Almond Cock" family of rollers that I raised; a 60-footer that was a very clearly-observable shrinker for the last 20-feet of spinning. The other two were 35-foot spinners from my Turner family, with no wings observable during their spinning; true blur-factor performers possessing all the qualities we aspire to create in our birds. One of my current projects involves breeding and training the Hannes Rossou/Ron Swart family of South African  rollers to determine if there are any significant differences in the performance qualities from my family of rollers or from the families that I have worked with in the past. Another pet project of mine is the investigation of dna sequencing of the Birmingham Roller; for the purposes of the identification of  parentage, of lineage, and possibly of  markers for the inheritance of roll. As to my greatest achievement in the hobby? I think that only time will tell, depending on the results of some of these projects and endeavors in which I am currently involved.
3- You are the Vise-President of the NBRC how have you used this opportunity to enhance the roller hobby?
 From 2005 to the present day, I have been very active in the organizations within our hobby: reorganizing our local roller club, the Central Carolina Performing Roller Club, as its Secretary-Treasurer. In 2007, I was an instrumental player in this club’s hosting of the NBRC National Convention in High Point, North Carolina, viewed by many members to be one of the best NBRC conventions ever. During that same time, for the past seven years, I have served as the Regional Director for the Southeast Region of the World Cup. As Regional Director I have actively participated in discussions and policy-making on the World Cup Executive Committee, organizing the regional competitions, and hosting international finals judges from all over the world in my home. During that same time I served as NBRC Regional Director for Region 1D for four years, likewise actively participating and supporting discussions and policy-making on the NBRC Executive Committee. I authored and submitted the predominant elements of theNBRC Fly Policy to the NBRC Executive Committee, which was subsequently approved and incorporated as official policy. At the same time, I was appointed to serve as the NBRC National Fly Director under two NBRC Presidents, a position I held for four years from 2006 through 2010. As National Fly Director I was instrumental in recruiting Hawaii to form a region and participate in NBRC competitions, as well as working to establish Virginia and Florida as separate regions. As a result, flyers in both Hawaii and Virginia have produced National Champions in NBRC competitions. In 2012 I was elected to the position of Vice-President of the NBRC which I have held for two years. For these past two years, I have administered the Master Flyer Award Program, directed the Hall of Fame Program and also served as Facilitator to the Executive Committee discussions and voting.
In my early years in the NBRC, I digitally updated and re-mastered the old, out-dated NBRC emblem into a new, more professional electronic form for a wide range of uses in the NBRC. Using this re-mastered emblem, I then developed an NBRC auto and truck window decal that was made available and marketed to NBRC members through its Accessories Secretary, Henry Cook. I also researched and developed the marketing for a handy tool to be used as an egg candler for NBRC  breeders, also available through the NBRC Accessories Secretary. In 2006, I wrote The Regional Director’s Handbook for the NBRC; an outline of the responsibilities and duties of an NBRC Regional Director, which has been distributed and utilized since that time in the training of new Regional Directors in the NBRC.
In 2012, I nominated Joe Quinn for the NBRC Hall of Fame; researched his accomplishments and provided them for the Hall of Fame members who subsequently inducted  Joe into the Hall of Fame.

4- Being a judge and having seen many kits, tell use about the ones that stand out in your mind.

I am absolutely committed to roller competitions and have participated in World Cup and NBRC 11 & 20 bird competitions every year that I have had rollers. The success of my family of birds speaks for itself as I am a consistent competitor for regional qualifier for the finals in both competitions; competing in one of the toughest regions in the country, against veteran flyers; a double Master Flyer, a World Cup Champion, and four NBRC National Champions. These efforts, so far, have rewarded me with nearly three-fourths of the points needed to achieve Master Flyer status.  And I support local flies and roller events on a regular basis traveling to sponsored events around the country, supporting the NBRC Conventions by attending each and every year.
Besides participating in roller competitions as a competitor, I receive many requests to judge roller competitions each year and contribute to competition venues as a judge in NBRC and World Cup competitions across the country, having judged in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Colorado, Washington and Oregon. In my experience, the regional qualifying kits consist of good rollers from many families of rollers, and I have not seen any single family that seems to have a "corner on the market" concerning performance. I have seen rollers capable of quality performance in every family. It is the commitment to quality of each individual fancier that seems to really make the difference.

5- One of my all time favorite articles is "Drop a Pebble" can you tell us about the effects you have heard about, coming from this well written article?

Throughout the years, I have authored dozens of articles about the breeding, training and flying of Birmingham Rollers and have been a steady contributor of these articles to the NBRC Bulletin and the Roller Journal (no longer in publication) on a consistent and regular basis. You ask about the article, "Drop A Pebble", that I wrote about a young boy who wanted, more than anything, to be a roller fancier. But this was not to be, however, as his life was snuffed out prematurely by a drunk driver. Based on the tremendous feedback that I have received from roller fanciers across the country, I can see that this article has touched the hearts of many, and help to make them appreciate the value of life and of the endeavors that we pursue in our brief time here on Earth.

I am active on a half dozen internet roller sites and social media on a daily basis, sharing  the benefit of my experience to newcomers to the hobby, contributing ideas and opinions to discussions and blogs on a wide range of roller topics. My primary purpose has been directed toward correcting the misinformation and rumor that is sometimes posted as fact on these sites….especially on the subject of families of Birmingham Rollers with certain color modifiers. As a result, many myths have been dispelled, and the record set straight.

Over the past five years or so, I have also gathered information from a number of veteran fliers who have contributed to my first attempt at authoring a Birmingham Roller Breed and Performance Standard to be used as a basis for a roller standard to be implemented, at some point in the future, by the NBRC and World Cup, as well as by local roller organizations.

7- What does the hobby need right now, to help it continue?
There are a number of things that are needed in our hobby, today. Primarily, we need to continue to support change as our hobby grows from the locally-based backyard hobby that it once was, to the national and international organization that it has, since, become. For example, the timing of our National Championship Competition in the Fall of the year needs to be changed so that we do not continue to sacrifice large numbers of our best rollers to birds of prey. Doing so for the past couple of decades is one of the primary factors that has put the US "behind the eight ball" in international competition. We also need more consistency in our competitions and in the scoring. In order to achieve that, we need to establish performance standards so that judges can be trained and certified, and so that competitors will know the basis upon which their kits will be scored....before the judge steps into their back yard, so that they can breed, train, and select their teams accordingly. We need to clear up a number of gray areas in the By-laws and Fly Rules of our roller organizations. And we need to continue the growth and transparency of the democratic processes under which our hobby operates. And most of all we need to continue to encourage and facilitate the camaraderie and friendship among roller enthusiasts across the nation and around the globe, which is the very life-blood of the roller hobby. My most long-lasting  and favorite moments in the hobby are standing under a kit of good rollers with a group of fellow enthusiasts, and sharing in the jokes and the laughter and the appreciation of quality rolling in the kit in the skies above.

10- Any tips for the new members of the hobby?
For the new members of our hobby, I would recommend that you get involved! Our hobby is only what we as individuals make of it. Participation in all levels of the hobby will make the hobby better, and will make individuals more successful in the hobby. Recognize that there will be disappointments and there will be successes, as with any human endeavor. The key to success is commitment. A casual approach to the hobby can only yield a casual result.
"Align your focus with the solution, not the problem."

Thank you cliff I enjoyed your response.

David Curneal

From an Area Directors Point of View

I received this in the spring, sorry Kyle for my late posting of it.

Hi Dave, My name is Kyle McArthur.i have a wonderful fiancee named Kristy and 2 amazing children Austin, 9. and Alyssa,3. I work for Nielson Construction as a Grader/Dozer operator. i live in Huntington which is in the heart of coal country.
2- What was your greatest challenge this year?
My Greatest challenge this year was trying to get enough birds bred to get my families established, and then dealing with the falcons in the air.
3- What was your greatest triumph this year?
my greatest Triumph was winning our the first 2 fall fly's in coal country division.
4- In doing this assignment you get to see many kits, any stand out in your mind?
one kit that sticks out in my mind is Ken Defa"s kit. when this kit matures out they are gonna be AWESOME!!!
5- Any great ideas you have learned from your many loft visits?
what sticks out to me is most of the competitive fliers are flying just 1 or a few families and they are building them tight and really getting good results by keeping their families tight and getting good kit performance and sensitivity cause these kits are from the same family.
6- Is their an individual bird that made an impression?

really there are a couple birds that have stuck in my mind. i have a red baldhead hen that is the cornerstone of my kit. she is a Monson based bird i got from Donny James. no matter what day it is or the conditions she does her job every time she is turned out. and the next bird that sticks in my mind is a dark check bird Ken Defa is flying. we sat and watched this bird go anywhere from 20ft -40ft and zip right back to the kit and do this steady for 3-4 times a minute at our 2nd division fly.
7- What do the club members need to do, to help you?
my division members are great. we are all friends and they make my assignment easy.
8- Any tips for the fliers?
keep good records and set goals.
9- Any last thoughts?

my last thought would be just for everyone to get their kits in the air and support yr division flies and the national flies,Utah is known for great rollers and we need to keep it known for our great birds        

Again I thank each of you for everything you do and which you the best with all your endeavors,
David Curneal



From an area directors point of veiw.

 I ask some of our area directors of few questions. This is a real important part of our club and these guys work hard to get the flies put together. I want to thank them for all they do for the hobby. Thank you guys for your time!!!!!!!!!!






Ok, I’ll make the best of this.

      1- Tell us about you, where you work, live etc.

I’m 42 years old. I’ve been in Riverton Utah for the last 15 years. I’ve been a Journeyman electrician for 20 years now, when the economy went sour I took a maintenance job at Nelson Labs. I grew up in Sandy Utah just around the corner from Jay Starley, I started out in rollers at the age of 14 never really had any quality birds but I liked the rollers most, now and then I would go see Jay fly his birds he gave me a few but I really wasn’t that serious. At the age of 16 the birds took the back seat. 2005 I got back into the hobby and of course I went straight to Jay, I wanted to get started on the right foot.

2- What was your greatest challenge this year?


My greatest challenge this year was raising a lot of top quality birds. The last two years the hawks really moved in my area. My A – team been attacked so many times they got in a bad habit flying on a tight left wing I could never break them, so as of now seems like I’m starting over I got rid of 30 or more birds trying to move forward.

3- What was your greatest triumph this year?

My greatest triumph this year was training young birds this Spring and Summer I flew the pants of these birds trying to get some kind of team going, as of now I have around 18 young birds that is shaping up nicely. Hopefully next Spring I can be competitive again.

4- In doing this assignment you get to see many kits, any stand out in your mind?

I really enjoy this hobby, seems like the more time I put into it the rewards are greater. The kit that stands out in my mind would be Jay Starley’s he makes it look so easy, his birds speak for themselves. I always look forward to see his birds fly.

5- Any great ideas you have learned from your many loft visits?

Last couple of years I tired to vist as many lofts as I could, I was in the planning stages of a new breeding loft that really helped me out.

6- Is their an individual bird that made an impression?

The bird that really made a impression on me would be my foundation hen this bird came from Tom Van Den Bossche from Maine. She produced more top quality birds than any other bird in my breeding loft, I bred her for 5 years never flew her , Tom told me she is just for stock and was he right. As of 2010 one evening my daughter was feeding my birds while I was away this top quality lavender flew out the door and never returned I could say I was a little mad but i got over it, now I’m breeding from her off spring.

7- What does the club members need to do, to help you?

I not sure if the club needs to help me personally .What I like about this club is it’s members I can talk to anyone for advice I’m always looking to improve.

8- Any tips for the fliers?

The tip I would give to any flier is , stick to it don’t give up this hobby has it ups and downs, ask many questions, see others fly their birds most everyone is helpful, that’s what helped me.

9- Any last thoughts?

Like I said earlier I’m pretty much starting over I can’t wait until all my young birds start performing. Thanks for everyone that keeps this hobby alive.

Brian Jacobson

S.L.C Fly Director

Thanks David for all you do, I hope I answered all your questions correct.


1- Tell  us about you, where you work, live etc.

• Originally from Great Falls, Montana. Grew up catching pigeons from the nearby brewery towers. Both the excitement of climbing high buildings and dodging cops, for being on private property, added to the intrigue!
I got back into pigeons about 3 years ago and have fallen in love with rollers!
I currently live in Alpine, Ut. and fly Adam Hill's line of rollers. My two kids, Cinchia and Dylan, both enjoy the hobby too and both have their own kit boxes that I fly their birds from.
I currently work for Centurylink (Qwest) in their sales office and have been there for the last 11 years.
2- What was your greatest challenge this year?

• My greatest challenge this year was getting started early with the breeding season. Many of the successful flyers already have their pairs put together and the hens popping out eggs by February/March. I didn't get going until May because I had lost most of my breeding cocks in the winter months from sickness and I didn't have any really good cocks to breed from. I've got exceptional hens but didn't want to breed them to just any cock. In this hobby it doesn't do you any good to breed just to have babies!

3- What was your greatest triumph this year?

• My greatest triumph this year I would say is my A team! Like I said I've been back into rollers now for 3 years and its taken me time to build a good team. I'm proud of what I've got! I just need to be a better trainer and pull the ones out that may be off that day so it doesn't hurt the team in scoring!

4- In doing this assignment you get to see many kits, any stand out in your mind?

• In being the Northern Utah Valley "NUV" fly director this year I've had the opportunity to see a lot of great kits! We have a lot of new kits made up of this years '12 babies that will certainly be even more competitive this coming year. The one kit that stands out the most this year was Zach Fossom's 11 bird kit he flew in our final fly. He hadn't been able to feed them the previous day and didn't think they would even fly that long, but we put them up anyways. They were a pleasant surprise! They got up to a perfect height, kitted exceptionally well, and stayed active almost the whole 20 min! His kit of only 11 birds scored well over 250 points! If he can do that with 11 birds just wait till he has 20 doing the same!
5- Any great ideas you have learned from your many loft visits?

• A lot of guys getting into the rolling fancy get rollers from many guys, as I did, just to get going. I would say do
research on the line of rollers you want. We have a lot of great lines in the Utah rolling club! Go visit different lofts and see how the birds perform. Then I would focus on one particular family. There are a lot of great guys who are willing to help you get started so do what they suggest! Don't waist your time with breeding lots of birds just to have birds. You will get frustrated, as I did in the beginning, and it could set you back a couple years! I paid $300.00 for a pair online when I started and they are the most expensive foster parents I've got!
6- Is their an individual bird that made an impression?

• My true love is my Venus hen! I got her as a foster hen from Adam when I was just getting started because she kept staying out of the kit. After that first year of breeding I put her up just to see how she flew. From the very start she was everything I wanted my birds to be like. She was actively rolling 10 to 15 feet, very tight rolls, and coming out of the roll perfectly (straight). She never had a problem kitting ever again. She has produced my best rollers by far! My only regret is I stocked her so I'm not able to see her fly anymore!
7- What does the club members need to do, to help you?

• The club members have been exceptionally helpful to me! Anytime I've had a question or concern about my birds regarding any issue they have been there. As for any other new or old member I wouldn't hesitate to contact any of our club members! We are in this hobby for the same reason...to enjoy the Birmingham Roller and to make them better!
8- Any tips for the fliers?

• I believe feed is key to their performance! Know and understand how your birds react off of the types and amounts of feed you give them. Know your birds!
9- Any last thoughts?

• I would like to see is this hobby continue to grow! The more people we have involved the more fun it gets! This is our passion so let's share it!
Again I thank each of you for everything you do and which you the best with all your endeavors,
David Curneal



Don Macauley N.B.R.C. President, Special Guest Interview

The National Birmingham Roller Club is an outstanding organization that's been  promoting the Birmingham roller as a flying and performing breed since 1961. The club was formed by several unique men, that took pride in the aerial antics of this little pigeon. Men like Bill Pensom, J. Leroy Smith and Buss Lutes with a board of directors including Ralph Hilton, Russ Harter, Howard McCully, Stan Plona, Hans Roettenbacher, John Spuria and Dick Stephens. These men promoted the Birmingham Roller at every turn, with every opportunity, they shared their knowledge and love for the birds. The Birmingham roller would not be such a popular breed of pigeon with out the work of these men.
Now at the helm of this wonderful organization is a man named Don Macauley. Don has a passion for these little birds, you can feel it as you read his reports in the NBRC bulletins. His love for the hobby is portrayed not only from his writings but also from his actions where he is always a good example of fairness and generosity. Don regularly donates his time,birds and knowledge for the betterment of the hobby.
The Utah State Roller Club members share his love for the Birmingham rollers. So I have asked Don to share some things about him and his birds with our members. I Thank Don for taking the time to answer my questions.
1-Tell us about yourself where you live, work etc. 
    I am 53 years young and born and raised in Las Vegas, Nv.  I have lived here all my life.  I have my wonderful wife Lynette, and my 21 year old son Richard.  My wife is very supportive of my hobby.  I didn't have the rollers until we were married about 6 years but she has supported me along the way.  My son Richard keeps me grounded with the birds.  He is very knowledgable in pigeon genetics and has a great eye for type in rollers and is the common sense of our roller program!  I couldn't be more blessed with my wife and son. I was a Union Carpenter out of High School and then had my own landscaping business as I love working with my hands, but I ultimately got into the casino industry and am now in my 29th year at the company I work for.  I am the Surveillance Director at 2 casino properties here in Vegas. 
2- Tells us about your birds.
  My orginal birds came to me in late 1993 from Doug Ouellette in a round about way. Long story so won't go into that. This was my start in rollers.  I then acquired some of Don Ouellette's birds thru Doug.  Though I didn't know it at the time, I was extremely fortunate to have acquired this high quality roller stock. Not the easiest to manage and fly, especially for a beginner, but I quickly discovered that there isn't anything easy about flying quality rollers, and it you want the best then the harder it gets!  I am still trying to do the Ouellette birds justice!   I also have some Tim Decker birds, very nice quality, and some Randy Gibson and Willie Wright birds.  In 2011 I acquired  a few pair of Steve Smith/Sal Ortiz birds that have produced very well for me too.  I also have some odd birds from different guys here and there in my loft.  While I get nice quality out of all these lines,  the Ouellettes are still my favorites as the best of these take your breath away.  I can get blur speed out of any of these familys, but the rare Champion spinner that shrinks up into a small ball with extreme blur speed is what takes my breath away. I have seen only a handful of these in the air, and the best I have seen are the Ouellettes.  I have one hen in particular that was never any deeper then 15', she appeared to stand still when she went into a spin.  I can still envision her in the air.  And lots of guys under my kits at the time never really spotted her as they were more fixated on the deeper birds that were seperating from the kit on the breaks.  This type of spinner is extremely rare.  She has produced some very high quality ones for me, but I was not able to get her to reproduce herself in the air. I am hoping to see another like her before my roller days are up!  I think the word "Champion" can and is used too loosely in this hobby. To me, this hen is the Secretariat of rollers that I have seen.      
3- I know you have a passion for the roller pigeon. What are some of the ways you promote them?  
  When answering this question I realize I have been more of a supporter of the hobby then a promoter, though support is promoting in a sense. I fly in the World Cup and NBRC Fly every year that I have been able to, regardless to whether I feel my birds are competitive or not. Birmingham Rollers are a performing breed.  Flying and performing is what I feel these birds were made for. Developing that champion spinner or performing kit is what I strive for.   I attend a number of lawn shows each year in California and donate framed roller pictures and birds to support those clubs.  I donate birds each year to the NBRC and World Cup auctions, and I band NBRC and have been a member since I got into rollers.  I have been a Regional Director for the NBRC and World Cup a number of times, and now serve as NBRC President and interim Fly Director, as well as our WC RD for Southern Nevada.  We hosted the 2011 NBRC convention here in Las Vegas, and I organized the World Of Wings Pigeon Musuem fundraiser last year. We are having our 5th annual Tribute to Pensom Lawn show this year. We make it a family event with coloring contest and jumper for the kids, and a free women's raffle for the ladies.  We also bring in William Pensom's granddaugher Karen Work and she displays memorobilia of her grandfather's and others. Nice and rare chance to see this roller history.  And most recently we are seeing fundraisers for individuals in need.  I support and donate toas many of these as feasible.   When I first got into rollers it was all about the birds, but as I gained more and more friends in the hobby I quickly realized fellowship and those friendships were much more important to me.  A Champion bird is very hard to obtain from egg to stock loft, but Champion type friends are much harder to obtain and replace.  I value my friendships made in this hobby much more then my birds.  I support the NBRC and volunteer my time and efforts to our national club as if it wasn't for the NBRC, I wouldn't have met these friends, shared the fellowship, and be in this hobby that I love.  Rollers and this hobby have become a way of life for me. I do have, or have been given, a number of ways to promote our hobby and I hope to be able to work on those in the future.  Right now with the dual role as NBRC President and Fly Director, I am afraid my volunteer time for rollers and the hobby is stretched.  My hope is that a Fly Diretor will come forward as I ony have 1 year left as President and feel I can accomplish more in that role if I don't have to carry the load of both positions. Once my term as President is over I will remain active in whatever capacity I can with the NBRC, as well as be able to work on some new ways to promote and make our hobby even more enjoyable. A youth program is something Guil Rand and I have worked on in the past and still hasn't been implemented into the NBRC.  One of my main goals for 2013!      
4- Your son Richard is also involved in the hobby. When did he start with the birds, and do you both work with the same birds?
  My son Richard always had a interest in all birds.  But I think he really got the roller bug at about age 6 when I took him to his first lawn show, the Pensom Memorial Show at the Pomona Feed Store put on by the CPRC.  Jerry Higgins was the auctioneer and I remember my son sitting down right in front of Jerry the entire auction. While spending time with my good friend Randy Gibson and the late great Doug Brown,who both are walking encyclopedias when it comes to pigeon genetics, my son and I learned alot about this.  My son retained more then I at his young age.  We would be at someone's loft and they would be showing us a bird and what it is out of, and my son would tell them that is not possible and ask if they bred open loft.  The answer would be yes but I know what my bird is out of and don't tell me different!  Not many guys wanted a 9 to 12 yr old kid telling them what their birds are out of!   My son would get very frustrated.   Guys like Jerry Higgins, Randy Gibson, Tim Decker, and the late Doug Brown always took time to listen to my son and answer his questions.   My son keeps me grounded with my birds and I can always rely on him to do so.   We work together on the birds, but he wants certain birds bred for him so that after college and when the time is right, he can work with the birds he selected rather then out of my breedings only.  Smart young man!!!   
5- What is one of your favorite roller moments? 
   My favorite roller moment is at the convention in the 90's hosted by CPRC.  Frank Lavin was inducted to the Hall of Fame.  I remember a huge standing ovation when he was given his plaque.  I to this day haven't seen such a loud response to such a award, and this response brought tears to Frank's eyes, as well as many grown men in attendance, including myself.  Frank, now in his 80's,  continues to support our hobby and I have corrosponded with him a number of times.    
  Another great moment I will add, as it hits close to home for Utah, is when Guil Rand stopped at my place with the late and truely great Paul Bradford in the 90's.  It may have been on the way back from Utah from the same convention above.  I had visited Paul in Salt Lake City prior to this and I believe I drove him crazy with questions.  But he was very patient and also gave me a few birds.   Now this legend was in my backyard under my kit and says to me  " you got some real good ones up there".   Paul's patience and consideration to me as a roller rookie I will remember and treasure forever. 
6- Being the NBRC President puts you in the "Lime Light" of the hobby.   I have seen how you have shared your passion for the birds in your writings. How else have you used this to improve the hobby? 
   Going into my term as President I had so many ideas to improve the hobby.  I figured I could do one or two proposals a month so I could get a minimum of 30 improvements implemented.  But once elected I had 14 vacant Regional Director spots to fill and a Fly Director spot as well.  This took me into late February to accomplish.  The Executive Committee wasn't in place and active until near the end of March. Then in June the Fly Director resigned as we started making  a schedule. I was unable to find a willing replacement so I took on that responsibility as well.  Overall a positive experience as I learned first hand about our National Fly, mostly good and very little bad,  but time consuming and really stretched my time available for the hobby. So has been a challenging first year as President.  I think a very good foundation has been laid as I move forward thru my term.  We have a very good Executive Committee with a blend of veterans and newer members. I make my self available to all members and use a open line of communication.  I am very direct and share my ideas openly and in detail in my bulletin submissions.  I feel that I have kept things positive and met the challenges so far head on.  We had a great convention and National Fly.  We had  very successful internet auction that shows us that we can support our events with fundraisers and thus control membership costs.  So I hope my efforts have shown that I am committed to do the best I can as President, and no obstacle, such as having to take over as Fly Director, will stand in the way towards that goal.  Looking for some more significant acccomplishments in 2013.  How much I can improve the hobby during my term will be judged by the members.         
7- Seeing as many kits and birds that you have, are their any that stay in your mind as being outstanding? 
   The best kit quality-wise I have ever seen is in my backyard. I have had several world class performances out of my birds, but I was the only person there to see it!  The one time that my kit was putting on a world class performance in our NBRC regional fly the falcon spoiled that at the 7 minute mark!  And the worst kit I have seen is also in my backyard!   There are 3 kits that I have seen outside my yard that I vividly remember.  The best team of rollers I have seen was at Robert Parker's in the mid-90's, the year he won the World Cup. This was on a CPRC Fly and his kit broke together in unison consistently and clean in and out of the roll.  Smooth stylish birds that were very good.  What impressed me most about this team is how they broke together and consistently rolled the same depth overall, about 25' to 30'.  This kit was like a bunch of simultaneous yoyo's with the same length of string.  Not the fastest I have seen, but the best teamwork and kit chemistry from start to finish.    
 One time at Tim Decker's there were a bunch of guys on a fly.  It was windy and Tim's birds got blown away some at first.  After about 15 minutes most everybody left to head to the next flier. I stayed to visit more and watch his kit.  As they worked their way back over his house and had the wind figured out, all of the sudden they started breaking big with back to back to back breaks.  This went on for about 10 minutes and the more they broke the better the quality became.   This is the most impressive sustained display of quality spin at a high work rate that I have ever seen.  These birds were going only about 20' but 3 times a minute with buzzsaw speed!  My jaw still drops when I think about this performance!
  The third kit that comes to mind was at Eric Schoelkopf's place in San Diego area.  Eric put up a team of quality spinners with 40' to 50' depth.  I have never seen a kit work this deep together and hold the quality of their spin for that depth.  A couple outbirds didn't allow a huge score, but very impresssive deep quality team.    
8- What does the hobby do for you?  The hobby keeps me young and like a child. I always was known as the bird nut as a kid.  I spend time with my rollers each morning before starting my day of work and family time. The birds keep me grounded and are like therapy for me each morning before facing the real world.  Having rollers also keeps me disciplined and focused, 2 key qualities needed to take these birds to a high level and meet the challenges of trying to reach that level- as well as 2 qualities needed to be successful at work and in life.  I enjoy life all together, but as far as time to myself I enjoy nothing more then laying on my loung chair in my littie paradise in my backyard and watching a nice performance by my birds in the air, especially the young teams as they start to show their potential.  This hobby also has provided me many great friends and I value those friendships more then the birds, though at times I may not act like it! 
9-In your opinion do lawn shows hurt or promote the roller as a performer?   I attend 6 or more lawn shows a year in Southern California.  Over the years I have seen many different judges consistently select the same type of birds as winners in the classes shown. And that type is representative of what the best performing rollers should look like.  It is amazing to me how consistent most these judges are in selecting the winners based on performance type.  While we don't know what these winners do in the air, As long as the birds shown are judged by this representation of performing type, rather then moving towards a show bird type standard, then showing these birds as Birmingham Rollers is a good thing. Now showing birds can become a little of a beauty contest in a sense, but rightfully so. After all, it is a show and those that take the time to get their birds in show condition typically win, but typically beauty only wins with correct performance type   And with the ever increasing bird of prey situation causing more and more in our hobby to lock their birds down for longer and longer lengths of times, these lawn shows provide a alternate way to enjoy our birds.  Most importantly, these lawn show are about fellowship and sharing our love for our hobby.  I have made so many friends at these shows and many of them I only see at these shows. The auctions at these shows are fun and usually a chance to pick up some good birds for a better price then say a internet auction. Over the years I have bought many auction birds -too many!   And I have gotten some junk as well, especially in years past.  But I have seen a tremendous improvement in overall quality of birds donated at these shows.  I think the vast majority realize there is no benefit to donating your culls to your club show and risking that club's reputation by doing so.   I enjoy these shows as they are fun and also give me a boost and rejuvination for the hobby as at times we can get loft blind and a little stagnant spending time just in our backyards and watching our own birds. 
10- What do you feel the hobby needs right now to keep it moving forward?  I feel our hobby needs to be more understanding, respectful, and considerate to each other.  We all have our opinions, and many of us very strong opinions!, but that doesn't mean our opinion is always right or the only way to be part of this hobby and to enjoy the hobby.  We need to be open-minded towards all aspects of our hobby.  We also have to make sure we don't let the internet become more of a negative tool then positive for our hobby.  The actions and words of a tiny  minority on some of these internet sites can overtake these sites and have a strong negative affect, if we let it.  But the majority on these sites are positive and we need to make sure and focus on the positives, learn from the negatives to make those positives, and be respectful to everyone's age group and backgrounds.  We also need to get more programs in place to get the youth involved in our hobby.  At the same time, our hobby is a great one and not as broken and disfunctional as some may think. We need to remind ourselves why we are in this hobby, and that is to have fun and share a common interest and love for our birds.    
11- Any tips for the new fanciers?  The best tip I have for new fanciers is to be patient.  I can't emphasize that enough. Don't be like me and gather birds from all over. Take your time and visit lofts, be observant of loft setups and birds.  See the birds in the air.  Before jumping in full steam ahead, ask yourself if you are ready to make the commitment it takes to keep birds, let alone a performing bird that also needs to be flown besides raised. Take it slow.  I recommend getting a kit first and try flying it. This is the best test if you are ready for Birmingham Rollers.  Find a mentor near you if you can that has birds you like.  Be PATIENT!  You will have to prove yourself to this mentor or your local group before they are willing to give you the best birds.  And make sure and keep it fun, especially if you start competing. I had point where I got way too serious in competing and sucked the fun out of the hobby.  No ones fault but my own. I took a break from competing until I got my proper perspective back and could put the word FUN before the word WIN.   A hobby should be a way to have fun and get away from the challenges of the real world.  Keep it fun!  
12- Any tips for the long time hobbyist?  For longtime hobbyist I also say be patient. Be patient with the newcomers and up and comers.  Remember you were there once yourself!   Share your knowledge and passion for the hobby.  A high level of knowledge in this hobby can only be gained by experience, and knowledge gained by experience is so much more valuable then book or internet knowledge. Be open minded to new ideas and ways to enjoy the hobby.  The older we get the less accepting we can be towards change, but change is part of life no matter what age and making it positive is the best way to accept change.   
13-  I know you have a passion for almonds, tells about them, and any other projects you may be working on.  My passion for Almonds mainly comes from the fact that my foundation cock was my old Hugo Blaas cock that got me started in this hobby.  It was Hugo's phone number on the band of this cock that I called and found out what rollers were all about.  I got a near white Almond from James Turner that was a nice spinner and bred it to the Blaas black white flight cock.  They produced a outstanding 30' spinning Almond cock for me that became the foundation of my Almond project.  He is in a 1996 bird in retirement.  I have a son that has taken his place. I have produced some very nice spinning Almond hens but few Almond cocks. nothing like the 1996 bird was in the air.  I haven't bred many Almonds lately.  The falcon took 7 or 8 I bred in 2010, so I stocked the last son that was coming in snappy.  Falcon seems to like that color best!   I don't have many other color projects as I used to.  A few Andulusians from Randy Gibson that he has spinning as good as any roller.   I also have a few barless from Scott Laufer that I am playing with.  Got a couple in the air spinning nice.  I do enjoy breeding the color birds and seeing what comes out of the nest, and do miss that aspect.  But these color breedings are definitely called projects for the right reason!  It is challenging enough to try to breed top quality spinners regardlss to color.  But as I retire and have more time I will play around with color a little more.   
14-Last thoughts?  Well, I see I have gotten quite lengthy so not much to add.  Everyone enjoy the hobby, and I appreciate the friendships I have made and the support I have been given in my current role as President and Fly Director.  Your club in Utah has shown longevity and growth and is a great model and example of what a roller club should be.  I look forward to being able to visit some of you folks in the future.  Thanks for asking me for the interview.  I am honored to be chosen to do so.     
Thank you again Don, for your time and your dedication to the hobby.
David Curneal

Mr Nick "Let-em Rip" Moreno Nov 25, 2012

It was a joy to think of these fun questions for our club president Mr. Nick Moreno, better know as Mr. Nick Let-em Rip Moreno.

In the few short years I have gotten to know Nick I have learned alot from him and found him to be an awesome roller man and friend.  He is one in a million thats for sure.

Nick I thank you for your time and fun well thought out answers.


  1-TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOURSELF? MY NAME IS NICK MORENO; I LIVE IN EAGLE MOUNTAIN UTAH. I’m in the construction industry, I specialize in concrete waterproofing and coatings, my largest job to date would either be the Four Seasons Resort in Teton Village or the IHC hospital on 53rd and state SLC Utah, the best thing about my work would be the flexible schedule, because we all know the construction industry is either feast or famine.

2-HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH THE “LET M RIP “Slogan? I ALWAYS MONKEY AROUND WITH JINGLES, NICK NAMES AND LOGOS. I think it started with coaching little league baseball and football with my two boys Manie and Dillon Moreno, we always came up with cool team names.

3-YOU ARE WORKING WITH 3 FAMILIYS OF ROLLERS, WHAT ARE SOME OF THE REWARDS AND CHALLENGES? I WORK WITH ADAM HILLS, GUIL RANDS AND NORM DRECKSELS. I believe most people try to select there pigeons by brand name, 8 years ago I also started out with multiple strains from sources outside of Utah, two or three years after starting in rollers, I decided to select my birds from people I wanted to call my friends, rather than choose pigeons from outside of our own state of Utah, from people we will never see, I’m happy to call Adam Hill, Guil Rand and Norman Drecksel my friends, I breed one round of pure Adam Hill’s, one round of pure Guil Rand’s and one round of pure Norman Drecksels each year, I then breed two rounds of my own family, I have elected two spend the next 10 years combining the three strains equally (33.33%) as to leave the Moreno strain for my grandson (JET MORENO), Awesome!.

4-WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE ROLLERS? I HAVE A FAVORITE ROLLER IN EACH OF THE THREE STRAINS. My Hill favorite is an Ash red cock bird #825 and his daughter, recessive red hen #934, 934 spins 30 feet clean, fast, (A) wing position. My Rand favorite is a cock bird #305 and his son #945 will be his replacement #945 is a 30 foot clean, fast (A) wing position. My favorite Drecksel is cock bird #25 gifted to me by Norman before I inherited his flock of rollers.









Thank you again,

David Curneal

Special Guest Interview// Jon Farr Dubis Idaho


Thank you so much for your time Jon!               

 Jon Farr and Blake Coates

Dave Curneal asked me to answer a few interview type questions about me and flying rollers. There ended up being a bunch of questions, I hope my reply doesn’t turn into a novel …

Tell us about yourself, how long with rollers?

I grew up in south Utah County, Payson. Graduated from USU in Logan and have been living/working in Idaho since. I work for USDA wildlife services to protect agriculture/livestock from damage by wildlife/predators. I have 5 kids ages 13-20.

I had pigeons as a boy, started out with racers. Within a few weeks, I was nearly wiped out by house cats. I sent a few on some distance races, but as a boy I didn’t train hard enough to excel. I couldn’t ride my bike that far. I got a pair of rollers when I was about 14 and the next year got a whole loft of them. I have no idea if they were good or not. When I got into high school and sports, the birds took a back seat.

I got into rollers this time as a result of telling my kids about boyhood experiences. They all wanted to get some pigeons too. I told the kids they could pick what kind they wanted. Of course with 5 kids, they chose 5 different varieties. I decided to get some rollers at the same time. Being the good father that I am not, I overrode my kids want to have pets with my desire to be competitive. They lost interest (due to my interference) and I inherited the loft.

I got my first rollers in 2000 from Dennis Briggs and Dirk Deboer. They were a line down from the Telstar hen of Jim Gilespe in Boise. I dabbled in a few other families over the years until 2005-6. I had a severe Chlamydia outbreak at my loft and lost all my kitbirds and about ½ my brood stock. To get restarted I got Starley bred birds from Adam Hill, Rod Forbush, Brent Martindale and others. These I bred to what I had left of the Deboer birds, to get the birds I am using now. The loss hurt badly but in the long run it helped my program move forward, thanks to generous friends. I bought a loft from a man in Idaho in 2007 of Easley/Starley birds that contributed to what I have now too.

I know you fly Starley lineage of birds, what do you like best about the birds you have now?

The Deboer’s and Starley’s are both capable of very good quality rolling. The originals from Dirk were seldom in the roll. The Starley crossed onto them worked to increase frequency without trading off quality. Jay’s family seems to naturally like to work together. Teamwork is something I have tried to accentuate. Dirk stopped working his family of birds about the time I got started and it became increasingly more difficult to get access to that blood. I got some birds from Adam Hill and Tom Monson to supplement my breeding. There are numerous guys with Jay’s birds and it has been easier to trade birds within that family line. The birds I am breeding/flying now are easy to manage. They don’t require a lot of prep work to have a good fly. I am always in search to improve my birds. I keep a few pairs as projects, a research and development department.

Tell us about your favorite kit and birds.

When I got serious about wanting good rollers, (about 2002) I determined to go around to as many lofts and see as many kits fly as I could. In 2004, I saw what is still the best kit I have ever witnessed, at Ken Billings. He flew a 20 bird kit of 20 outstanding rollers, deep, fast and frequent. My eyes could hardly take it in. I saw a very good kit at Larry Hollingsworth, his last competition fly. Beaver Dayton has flown some terrific birds. I have seen good kits over several lofts in Utah. Jay, Adam, Guil, Lenny, Blake, Brian, Brad and Scott Campbell have each flown kits I still remember. I had a very nice kit in 2005 but I went to watch/support my regional fly and the instructions I left for feeding got misunderstood, the kit tanked. I am proud of the kit I won the national championship with, but I think I have flown other kits that were better at times. I saw my only “full turn” in 2009 from one of my own kits.

Favorite birds are a little more personal. Again I have seen good ones in many places. But I’ll tell about a few of my own, not because they were better, but I knew them more. Adam gifted me a black cockbird, 00 UTAH 592. 592 produced very well for me and moved my breeding program a huge step forward. He was a great looking bird too, I thought. I got a blue check hen from Dennis Briggs, 2003 AP 16, that was brilliant in the air and produced very well. I lost most of her blood in 2006. I raised a lavender cock in 2007 NBRC 70 that had great speed, clean spin and good frequency. He would vary his depth from 10 ft to 40 ft and would pace his frequency to match the kit he was flying with. 70 got picked out in every kit I flew him as an all-star. I don’t name many birds, but I had one I called Steady Eddy, 07 NBRC 35. He was a mongrel mix of bloodlines. He wasn’t so exceptional, although he won our Idaho individual bird fly-off, but he gave the same kind of show every day I put him up. It didn’t matter if he was fat or thin, wind or heat, he went to work and it was pretty. I lost him to a falcon spring of 2011. I raised a hen in ’08 I named yo-yo. She did 30-40 ft every nice and went back like she was wound up on a string.

In building competition kits and judging, tell us what you’re looking for?

As a judge, I try my best to score by the rules of the fly as I understand them. I don’t put any of my personal preference into it. They must break together and be sufficient depth and quality to score. When I am judging, I cannot pick out a ‘best bird’. I try to watch with a different ‘set of eyes’. I am watching for the complete package as a kit. If I let my eyes get stuck on 1 bird, I am cheating the rest of the team of attention.

When I am putting together a kit for competition, I will practice judge them a few times. If there is any single bird that stands out from the rest, it must be because it is superior. If I notice a bird that is sloppy, too frequent or short more than once, I pull it. I look for birds that are good quality and depth and compliment the rest of the team. I don’t want birds popping off, rolling on their own, no matter how good or deep they may be. I don’t like birds that habitually roll off the back of the kit or roll as soon as they rejoin the kit. It disrupts the kits rhythm and limits opportunity for bigger breaks. I look for birds that routinely fly through breaks and pull them, regardless of performance. I expect them to contribute to the team’s performance.

Tell us about breeding, what you look for in stock selection? What kind of relationships work best?

I will first confess I do not consider myself a very good breeder of rollers. I owe most of any success I have achieved to others breeding. With that said, I’ll share my opinion. To qualify for stock, they must be good, without significant performance fault (no wing switching, bumping, out flying). They do not have to be perfect or even exceptional. I prefer them to have good performing brothers and sisters too. I prefer an H wing style. I prefer good, clean, balanced spin over extreme speed. They must be smooth in, smooth exit. They must have heart to return directly to the kit. I expect them to work in sync with a team. I prefer them to be 20-40 ft.

I fly all of mine for at least 2 full seasons. Sometimes I will pull in a yearling bird after WC and breed it over the summer, but if I do, it always goes back into the kit and flys through the next year. I like to re-fly any bird I breed from at least once. It tells me about its character if it can get back into form and resume its previous performance status. Several of my breeders have been from brood loft to kitbox and back multiple times. I know it’s risky in today’s skies with hawks etc, but it was something the creators of these birds did regularly and I think it’s important to do in order to maintain stable spinners.

When I put pairs together, I always do it with a purpose in mind, based on the attributes shown by each prospective parent and if possible how they have produced in the past. I try to compliment each mate with its match. I have not had much success breeding from full bro/sis matings and mixed success with parent/offspring matings. I like ½ bro/sis, cousins, uncle type relations to breed from. I don’t take relationship into consideration much, more of an afterthought. I do try and color balance a little. I avoid doubling up on grizzle, white flights/pied and recessive red.

What are some challenges of flying rollers in Idaho?

The biggest drawback to flying where I do is remoteness from other roller guys. I am 3 hrs from Cache Valley, 4 hours from Boise, 5 hours from Missoula, where there are other serious roller fliers. There are a couple of other roller guys around me but none that are into flying. They are more of hobbyist roller keepers. Where I live it is cool climate and windy in springtime. My property is open and so is the surrounding country. It helps to not harbor hawks but there is no protection from wind and elements for the birds. Raising a family (children) here has been more important than flying pigeons. Maybe when I retire I can look for ideal roller flying country … next to Thayne Lee?

What are some things we can do to better the hobby?

Get involved and stay involved, participate. Be a part of making your club happen. Don’t sit home and expect guys to come to your place and do it without you. Realize everyone is unique and personalities don’t always mesh, but learn to set that aside and be supportive of the club/hobby. Go around and watch /birds/kits perform, outside of your neighborhood/region/state. It will help prevent loft blindness and foster fellowship in a hobby that relies on a social network. Be honest. Honest with yourself about your birds and honest with guys you fly with or trade birds with. So many relationships and clubs have been ruined by men who believe they and their birds are greater than they actually are. Don’t make excuses for bad performance from your own birds, ever. Realize they aren’t machines, but don’t take your eye off the prize of producing the very best kind of rollers you can. You cannot get attached to birds/names/lofts/pedigrees and still make decisions that will improve the birds you breed/fly. Adopt a long term perspective with these birds. They aren’t easy to breed and fly well and it will take most of us years to realize progress. There will be many more disappointments than victories.

This Months Interview // Bryan Lay Feb 2012

I had the joy of asking Bryan a few questions for this months interview. Bryan has been the president of the Utah State Roller Club and does well with his birds in the comps. I have had the joy of watching his birds many times and they always put on a nice show.

Some of my favorite birds come from Bryan.

Thank you Bryan for your time,


1- Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I grew up in Southern Utah on a small farm.  I spent a lot of time riding motor cycles, horses and ATVs in my younger days. I also spent a good amount of time searching for Indian artifacts. (No digging, just looking at the writings on rocks and finding pottery and arrowheads and pieces lying on top of the ground.)   I have had pigeons from the time I was about 10 years old.  I caught barn pigeons first and had fun raising them... Then the lost homers came in with the barn pigeons and I caught a few of those.  I played with the homers for a few years and then found that there were pigeons that did flips in the air.  I had seen some of them at the home of Cory Fountain in Marysville, Utah. He would not part with any, but the next year (7th grade) the school took a trip to the state fair and I bought 2 pairs of rollers and snuck them home on the bus.   These birds were awesome to me because they did do flips in the air.  That was all they did too.. No spinning except for the occasional suicidal one.    I went on an LDS mission to Japan and when I returned, my father had gotten rid of the rollers.   I moved to Cache Valley to attend college and met an angel and married her.   In 2003 I met up with Randy Balls while dealing with him on Quail or other birds. He turned his rollers loose for me to watch. It was winter time.   I had never seen a roller spin.  I did that day and I had to have some.  Randy raised me 15 or so birds to get me started and I ordered 15 or so from a John Jones in Colby Kansas.     This got me started back in the rollers and it has been a fun, challenging hobby ever since.

2-How long have you been in the hobby?
Since about 1980 but really in competition rollers since about 2004.

3-Tell us about the birds you are working with now.
The birds I have that have produced good spinners are a mix of birds from Randy Balls, John Jones and Dee and Laurel Julsen.

I play with a little color project or two.  I have some recessive reds, some reduced, and almonds that I breed from each year.   I produce some very good spinning birds out of these birds too.   These birds are also from the same lines as the birds above but I have separated them out as color projects.

4-In flying the different families of birds, do you run into struggles?
Not really... Either they kit and fly the time or they do not stay on the place... Every family produces some bummers and every family produces some good spinners.

5- What do you do to prep for a fly?
I usually feed a lower protein diet(White wheat) for about three  days.  I watch the birds fly time and if they fly more than an hour I cut their feed each day a little until I get them to fly for 15 minutes to an hour. Preferably about 25 minutes.   I watch any birds that come down early during this time and they are pulled from the kit.   I also watch for birds that stray from the kit too often during this time.  They are also pulled.   I then feed a cup of peas or so followed up with all the pigeon mix they can eat on the fourth day.  The fifth day I give them about 1 cup of pigeon mix.  On the fifth day I pull their water in the evening and then fly them the morning of the sixth day.     Young birds seem to have a problem dealing with  the stress of messing with the feed.     I have found in my older birds that they roll when they are thinner.  If I feed them too much they stop rolling.  For the most part my young birds are quite active and roll well from about 6 months to a year when they are fed generously.    For this reason I sometimes pull the young birds and feed them separately for 10 minutes or so and then put them back in with the kit to insure that they get plenty to eat.  Just like us, the young birds are apt to play hard while the older ones really don't feel like it unless they are in good physical condition.

6-Any projects coming up?
I received  a couple of Drecksel birds from Dave Curneal.  I plan on Mixing them in with my black bald heads(my birds are not really that well marked) to see if I can get a little better marked bird that still rolls with good speed and depth.  Some already have a bit of my line in them and so I think they will fit in pretty well... We will see.  I also got a pair of Drecksel Bald heads.. I plan on working with them in an effort to get a good bird to give to Nick Moreno for an 11 bird fly with only the Drecksel birds.

7- Any suggestions on how to fly with the birds of prey in the area, to keep loses to a minimum?
I have kept pretty good records of when the birds of prey are usually in town and could save more birds if I would lock them up when I know it is AIR SHARK season.  I have found that about October 15th to the end of December the SHARKS are usually in town.   I have noticed that when the snow is about half way down the mountains in the fall they show up...   They usually come again the end of March and hang around for must of April and May or until the snow is Melted about halfway back up the mountain... Usually about May 12th.   Summer and winter are usually fairly SHARK free unless a coopers sets up shop and stays.  The Falcons other hawks are usually not a problem during this time.  Randy and I live close together and so this year we notified each other of any SHARK sightings and the birds were locked up for 7 to 10 days each time a Bird of Prey was seen... This seemed to help a great deal as last year I lost more than 40 birds in the fall and this year I have lost to the talons about 7.

8- What do you look for in a potential breeder?
I look for a fast spinning bird that has control.   One that kits good, and does this for a period of 1 year.   I usually have to pull them early, at about 14 months(Rolling for about 8 Months) or so to insure I don't loose them.  I get more hens that roll with the speed and style then I do cock birds with my birds.  When a really good cock birds comes along, chances of him flying for more than a year before I pull him is slim.  However If I breed from him and he does not produce any good spinners he will be put back in the kit.

9- How long do you try to fly a bird before it is considered for stock?
One year on cock birds and about 1.5 years old on hens.

10-Any favorite birds? Tell us about them.
Well, There were there were several that the coopers  hawk got, and  another one that the Merlin got. There was also many fed to the Peregrine Falcons, and a bunch that the Goshawks got.

I also had a recessive red cock that produced good birds like crazy... I lost him 2 years ago in a loft rolling accident. Of birds that are still alive,  I  have 2 lavender cock birds, one red grizzle cock,  one red grizzle hen(Randy Balls bred this one and gave it to me as a squeakers), one black bald head hen(Squeakers from Randy here too) and one black spread hen that I have been able to fly,  witness the screaming spinning demon inside of them,  and get them out of the air before losing them.

11- Any stories?

       I had a bird roll from about 50 feet up one day and bounce off the landing board and right through the trap door in to the kit box.   I have not seen that again.   

       I just like going to the competitions when at all possible.  It is fun to see other peoples birds and what they can do.   Some of the best memories I have are just spending the day with others watching the birds fly.  It is sort of like hunting... Shooting a big buck is not nearly as fun if the hunt is done alone.   Sharing the excitement with some one else always has a deeper emotional value.

12- What was your highest score?
       I had a dream once where I scored about 600.  That is probably the best I will ever do!!!!!... In reality about 300.

13 When do you put your pairs together?  
The joke is that I put them together on Valentines day and split them up for a resting period the day before valentines day the following year.   I like to raise about 100 squeakers.   I try to put the birds together the first of March but I always get excited and put them together in February.  I then try to separate them in about October but have left them together until December.  

14-What are some of your other hobbies?
       I like to fish, hunt, fly radio controlled Airplanes and want to fly an RC helicopter.   I like to play the piano and the guitar and have wrote a couple of my own songs on both.  I can not write down the music so I have to record the song when it is done or it is soon forgotten.   I like to garden and have a little orchard here at the house.

15- What is your favorite part of the roller hobby?
       My favorite part of the roller hobby is going out and letting the birds fly...   It is a form of deep relaxation for me on a day to day basis.   On fly day, for some reason it is not so relaxing at my house for me,  but I find the same calming effect while watching rollers fly at others houses on fly day.


David Curneal

Guils Drecksel birds

This months interview // Norm Drecksel Jan 2012

I had the opportunity to give Norm a list of questions for him to answer. I have to say thank you to Norm for doing this and also to his daughter Debbie for typing the answers for me. I already knew most of the answers but wanted to get them straight from Norm so I would not mess anything up


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.


Brown birds?


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.


Closed check?


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!


Thank you so much Norm for the answers. I have always enjoyed our visits and talks. Norm Drecksel my friend and the "Master of the Baldheads"

David Curneal


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