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* The following article is about Master Breeder Teddy Hull, who moved from Sarajevo (Bosnia and Herzegovina) to the United States.
The Oriental Roller, Practices And Principals
by TEDDY HULL, Hollywood, California.
As Told To Sandra Arison And Ian Coleman
Published in AMERICAN PIGEON JOURNAL, May 1984
Master breeder Teddy Hull is known to pigeon fanciers around the world for his dedication and standard of excellence in breeding the amazing Oriental Roller pigeons. Mr. Hull is solely credited with introducing this beautiful breed to the United States from his original stock imported from Eastern Europe in 1951.
Teddy Hull was born in the Sarajevo region which until 1918 was the Austrian-Hungarian Monarchy, where is was common for families to keep flying kits of Oriental Rollers in their thatched attics. By the age of 7 he was involved in keeping Oriental Rollers, a fancy inherited from his grandfather who, like Teddy was also a master breeder. With a childs fascination Teddy spent his youth studying the genetic and aerial characteristics of this bird with his countrymen. For the next twenty-five years, Mr. Hull worked trying to achieve a standard of excellence seldom seen today.
Jozo Mletic, today 85, and Abdulah Karic still send Teddy pictures of some of the birds that he bread when he was a boy. The trade restrictions posed by the Soviet block make importing birds from old world masters like the men mentioned above almost impossible.
In 1939 World War II forced Teddy to leave Yugoslavia which was occupied by the Germans. Lucky to get out at all Teddy had no way to take his birds. Teddy and his wife fled to Western Europe and later, after traveling extensively, to the United States.
In Baltimore in 1951 Teddy Hull became interested in Oriental Rollers again. Rather than trying to rebreed the birds from scratch using local stock, Teddy had birds imported from Turkey. These birds were laughed at by American breeders who had never seen a real Oriental Roller from its native region.
When Teddy Hull moved to Los Angeles, California, in 1961 his Rollers were already gaining notoriety. "Orientals" were virtually unknown in California. In his search for "fresh" stock Teddy contacted William Haig, a well known breeder of Kurdistan Rollers. Mr. Haig's extensive Knowledge of genetics and gene pooling made his "Smirna", or Orientals a logical choice for breeding to Teddy's Turkish stock. Unfortunately as is so often true of American breeders and their stock, the dominant genes and characteristics were not dominant at all, but merely surpressed. After one generation the dominant characteristics returned producing squeakers with Dutch topknots . This is what happens when breeding is based on a desired visual or color trait instead of the birds being picked in the air on flying ability.
There has been much work done with the Roller by men such as Dale Husband, Dave Camomile, and Mr. Drexler, all towards perfecting show birds and the trophies they win. In a few generations it is possible to breed out the characteristics that make up the Oriental.
This separation of aerial and show strains of a breed may also be noted in the Birmingham Roller and it is this "show" mentality that is responsible for the general loss in the quality that all breeds are experiencing today. When was the last time you had a bird as good as your birds of twenty years ago? - In any breed.
The intention of this interview is not to criticize the showing of pigeons, but to define what a bird in a show should represent. Orientals should represent the pure bred flying Roller. These birds should not be mixed, pick a line of birds and work with them. Any mixing will ultimately dilute your birds and soon you will have nothing. Fly your birds, without flying you have no way of making an intelligent breeding decision. Oriental Rollers should not be kept if they cannot be flown. Your best flyers are your best breeders. How often we forget.
Many breeders breed for profit, but Teddy Hull feels that each nesting pair should only be allowed to breed twice a year. Teddy's airy, spacious well lit lofts include a well stocked medicine cabinet. The selling of birds only offsets the cost of the fancy.
Teddy keeps his birds separated by sex, and never breeds brother to sister, or nest mates together. When the birds are eight weeks old they're trained to fly. It will take four or five months before the young birds leave sight of the coup and start to spin. As the birds learn to fly they will fly as high as ten thousand feet for hours at a time spinning and rolling energetically in tight spins of forty to eighty feet.
Oriental Rollers are the oldest performing pigeon in existence.One hundred-forty years ago a Greek horse trader brought the first Oriental Rollers to the Sarajevo region from Smirna, Turkey. For 500 years this large country once included many countries in Europe, now Yugoslavia.
The Turkish president, Kemal Atatuek asked the Greek people, who mostly bred Oriental Rollers, to leave Turkey. Taking the birds with them they went to Solun and Gjunanis. Today Oriental Rollers are very rare in Smirna, Turkey. They can be found in Buhari, but Teddy prefers the Smirna. The first known breeders of Oriental Rollers were Senatore Snek and Bencion Abinun.
In Europe the birds are only shown once a year, but are flown daily in neighborhood competitions. The kits are judged as much as they are here on time in the air and spin depth. When Orientals are mixed with other types of Rollers they will fly with them, but not perform.
Red and yellows are not Oriental Rollers, but are Romanian Rollers. These birds should be bred separately and should not be mixed with them. Rolling seems to come every other generation (birds that have never rolled may produce a roll down). Now let's stop trying to breed for a give show, or a certain judge, and look at the characteristics of the Oriental Roller.
There are two basic types of Orientals, both proud and strong birds that are intelligent and love to fight. The first is the Smirna our basic Oriental, and its shorter cousin, the Kurdistan Roller. The following description in Teddy Hulls own words defines the true Smirna Roller.
The head should be oval, not flat or round. The eyes should be pearl eyes with black centers and most important, a white eye lid with no red or yellow. White Oriental Rollers may have a bull eye, but never breed two almonds or you will get bull eyes, and the birds will be 80% blind. You should be able to see the eye through the eye lid.
The Oriental Rollers beak should be medium size and white.Dark birds may have a thin black line down the center of the beak. A black beak is a sign of a mixed breed. Oriental Rollers have a short neck, the shorter the better. The hen can have a longer neck than the male. The birds body is broad and tappered towards the tail, breast forward with the back of the bird slightly arched giving a saddled appearance. The wing of the Oriental Roller is long and is held under the tail, but does not touch the floor. The tail of the Oriental Roller contains 14 to 21 feathers, is long and wide and held at a 45 degree angle to the body.A double feathered or split feathered tail, called Sufiorka by the Turkish, is a very good sign and these pigeons should be bred. The flight feathers should be long, springy and hard, giving a stepped arch effect to the wings. The legs must be short. The color of the Oriental Roller is deep, no bald heads, flights, grizzles, mottleds, or rose wings. Any of these faults are a sign of mixed breeding. The most important color is the duns and almonds. From these you can get all colors. Never breed almonds together. An almond squaker is very light, and gets darker as it gets older (dun) and becomes all one color by one year of age. The tail should be the same color, except with almonds. Almonds should be bred in yellow, dun, black, silver.
The information contained in this article is intended to shed some light on the breeding and showing of Oriental Rollers.
Rewritten by Franjo Talanga, January 7, 2006.
AMERICAN PIGEON JOURNAL
By WALTER WOJCIESKI
Since I began raising Orientals 26 years ago, I haven't seen a written description or the like on the different colors that we have on our Orientals. In the early writings of the Oriental, they were not only prized for their performance, but for their striking colors.
Thinking back to a summer I spent with the late Master Breeder Teddy Hull at his home in 1983, being only 13 years old, I had the privilege to sit down with him, watching his 400 plus Orientals, and asking him all the questions I could think of each day I spent with him. I noticed his birds had such good deep color, in all colors. I began asking him questions, about color descriptions, and how he bred for color. Teddy began to explain to me how his countrymen bred them in the old country he was from. He told me the black, almond, and almond byproducts such as a kite etc. were Smyrna Rollers and the reds and yellows etc. were Kurdistan Rollers, but both were Oriental Rollers. He said the American breeders had both at one time but bred them together and lot of the mixing of colors hurt the quality of colors in the United States. He said by voicing his opinion that there were U.S. breeders that didn’t agree with him. He showed me how he bred for color and how he separated his colors. Here are some of the descriptions he gave me on our basic colors in our Orientals:
Black – Dark, shinny jet black color throughout; no signs of check, bars or flat color. Should show green or red hues around neck area when viewed from a distance.
Red - Color to be a shade of chestnut red, if possible throughout. Lighter shade acceptable, but the darker the better. No bluish rays in tails.
Yellow - Color to be a deep, golden buff throughout, no bluish rays in tails.
Dun - A dark, greenish brown color, flights are a lighter color than color of body. Darker dun color preferred.
Classical Almond - Multi-colored, rich yellow orange-ish ground color throughout body with jet black flecking with a good break pattern, uniformly positioned throughout body. Neck area is usually a more bronzing effect.
Sprinkle - Ground color more of a grey base with jet black flecking break uniformly positioned. A mixture of colors in the neck area including yellow, red, silver, etc. Today the spred almonds are called sprinkles. Teddy called them black almonds.
White - Self white with bull eye color. Teddy didn’t recognize whites with pearl eyes.
Silver - Bird should possess a nice shade of neutral grey in the wing shields with dark dun well defined bars. Head, neck, and tail with dun tail bar should be a darker shade of grey.
Blue - Bird should possess light, sky blue wing shields with jet black well defined bars. Head, neck, tail with jet black tail bar should be a darker shade.
Orientals, as we know, have a lot more colors. I thought I’d share a few color descriptions that Teddy described to me. A real touchy subject with Teddy on color was grizzle. He believed grizzle and any white flighted, besides white, were crossed breeds!
There are some fine breeders in the U.S. that have bred excellent colored Orientals, but I think the Europeans might have mastered a few of the colors the Oriental Rollers are bred in. I’ve been breeding Orientals for a while now and some of the breeding practices Teddy used I have experienced for myself on improving color, and it works in my family of birds.