Most birds are known for flying. There are some, however, that are considered flightless such as the penguin or ostrich. There is one kind of bird, however, that is flightless, but it also does backflips. This bird is called the parlor roller and has specifically been bred to do these backflips.
The parlor roller is a type of pigeon. It does still walk to get around, but it will also engage in backflipping to get around. This type of bird was bred from the rock pigeon, and it seems to have been first introduced in the nineteenth century in Scotland.
The parlor roller does its backflips on the ground rather than in the air. This is different from the parlor tumbler. The parlor tumbler rolls while flying in the air. Though the two are closely related, they move in significantly different ways with their backflipping as the parlor roller is flightless.
Charles Darwin was extremely interested in these backflipping birds. He allotted that the backflipping qualities and techniques allowed for selective breeding to truly be showcased. He even continued to write about these birds in some of his documents in 1859.
Darwin believed that the backflipping action that the parlor roller engaged in was not taught by anyone. He even believed that other pigeons that were more mature did not teach the younger birds how to backflip. One pigeon, in his words, showcased the behavior, and this behavior was continually developed through later breeding from this one pigeon that originally exhibited this behavior.
Parlor rollers were further developed through unnatural processes by selectively breeding the birds for their backflipping abilities. The behavior eventually became a natural part of these birds’ existence. The parlor rollers’ backflipping behaviors eventually became almost exaggerated and comical to viewers of the behavior. Darwin, it is important to note, probably only saw parlor tumblers that we’re able to fly that was turned to parlor rollers.
These birds are only bred for their behaviors and for no other reason. Some individuals even host distance competitions with parlor rollers. Color and other distinguishing features are not important when breeding these birds.
Parlor rollers are seen in many colors, however. They can be purely white or gray like a normal pigeon. The price simply goes off of how far the parlor roller is able to backflip and how much of a straight line it is able to backflip in.
The birds are able to complete the backflips out of their own efforts. If they are competing, however, handlers will often begin the rolling process for them. The handlers compete to see how far their birds will go. Whoever’s goes the furthest is declared the winner of that certain competition by having the fittest bird.
The parlor roller that has gone the furthest for a world record is 662 feet and 3 inches. The average lengths for winners in competitions are anywhere from 50 to 80 feet. The parlor roller does fly up until three months of age, but it then turns to roll. They have a genetic defect causing their balances to be off.