Why Do Roller Pigeons Roll | How Do You Identify A Roller Pigeon?

Have you ever seen a pigeon doing somersaults while flying and wondered how and why do roller pigeons roll? 

If you are new to pigeon breeding or a bird enthusiast wanting to know more information about roller pigeons, here are some commonly asked questions about roller pigeons, their characteristics, and feeding habits. 

Pigeons with the ability to roll or tumble in the air while flying are called roller pigeons. They are a domesticated breed often preferred for their ability to do somersaults and backflips.  Some popular varieties of roller pigeons are

  • Parlor Roller
  • Galati Roller
  • Birmingham Roller
  • Oriental Roller
  • American Roller
  • Central Asiatic Roller
  • Majorcan Esbart Roller
  • Spanish Roller

Why Do Roller Pigeons Roll

There is no simple answer to this question. There are several opinions on why do roller pigeons roll. 

According to some studies, Rolling is a genetic factor. Selective breeding of this mutation gave birth to roller pigeons that perform backflips while flying. 

Several other studies state that roller pigeons have a genetic defect that causes seizures while flying. These brief seizures make the birds roll and tumble. However, many breeders do not support this view as rolling pigeons have control over how and when they perform the rolling. Rolling pigeons also perform synchronized rolling if they are trained to do it, which will be impossible to do if rolling happens due to a seizure. 

Some breeders and pigeon enthusiasts state that rolling pigeons perform backflips and rolls because they enjoy doing them. 

Related Read: Do pigeons fly at night?

How Do You Identify A Roller Pigeon

There are hundreds of varieties of roller pigeons around the world. Their plumage, body type, and features vary depending on their specific breed. Here are some typical characteristics that help to identify a roller pigeon.


The plumage colors of roller pigeons are varied. They can be blue, brown, black or white. 


Rolling pigeons have short or mid-length beaks with a round cere. Their beak color depends on their body color. 


They have a round head with a protruding forehead.


There is no specific eye color. But breeders prefer birds with clear and well-centered eyes. Pearl and yellow are the most preferred eye colors.  


The neck of rolling pigeons is thick. 

Related Read: How To Cure Pigeon Neck Twisting | Pigeon Neck Twisting Treatment

Tail Feathers

The tail feathers of a good rolling pigeon are strong and spoon-shaped. They are only a bit longer than the flight feathers. When held together, there should be a gap of one thumb between the tail feathers and flight feathers. 


Tumbling or rolling pigeons come in various sizes depending on their breed. 

Do Roller Pigeons Have a Homing Instinct

Rollers pigeons have a very little homing instinct as they are selectively bred for their rolling and tumbling skills.  Though all pigeons have a certain level of homing instinct, selective breeding has reduced this instinct in rolling pigeons. These birds are carried in cages called kits for performances. 

Related Read: 5 Best Pet Pigeon Breeds | What Breed Of Pigeon Makes The Best Pet?

What Do Roller Pigeons Eat

Regardless of their breed, pigeons are predominantly grain-eaters. They also eat seeds, fruits, and insects sometimes. You can feed the roller pigeons grains such as rice, wheat, oats, sorghum, milo, etc. There are pigeon pellets available in the market. These pellets contain the right mix of grains to suit the dietary needs of the pigeons at different stages of their life. 

How Long Do Roller Pigeons Live

Roller pigeons have a lifespan similar to other breeds of pigeons. The lifespan of a pigeon depends on many factors such as the environment, how well it is fed,  living conditions, and so on. Healthy roller pigeons live for around 10 to 16 years on average

How Much Do Roller Pigeons Cost

The cost of roller pigeons depends on their breed. The more rolls they can perform mid-air, the higher the cost. The price of pigeons also depends on their age, popularity, color, and health. On average, the cost of roller pigeons starts at $20 per bird. 

What Do Roller Pigeons Do

Roller pigeons are bred and raised to perform in pigeon competitions and entertainment shows. They perform backflips and rolls mid-flight. Some breeders also train their kits (group of performing birds) to perform synchronized flips. 

Roller pigeons are a popular breed that is selectively bred for the genetic trait of rolling or tumbling mid-air. There are many claims on why do roller pigeons roll. Some experts say that a genetic defect causes these birds to have seizures in flight and roll, while others believe it to be a carefully designed genetic trait.

Since these birds are trained to roll and perform somersaults in the air, they have lost their homing instincts. If they are well fed and bred in clean surroundings rolling pigeons can live up to 16 years.

In conclusion, we can say that rolling or tumbling pigeons are very entertaining birds that make a place in your heart, once you breed them.

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