EVER heard of a Birmingham roller?

What about a tippler, tumbler or cumulet?

No? They are all types of domesticated pigeon.

The Birmingham Roller is a popular bird that originated in the city. Developed through selective breeding, they are renowned for their ability to do rapid backward somersaults while flying. The birds are part of the tumbler family, who have similar traits.

Power houses of stamina, Tipplers are duration fliers bred specifically to fly long hours. Cumulets, as the name suggests, fly like white clouds - like a flock of butterflies making patterns in the air.

These fascinating facts are among countless others contained in pigeon racing guru Jim Emerton’s latest book on the profession.

Unlike his previous book ‘Pigeon Racing’, in which he gives his own insights into the sport, this time Jim taps other experts’ knowledge, delivering their trade secrets on everything from selecting birds to food, races and loft ventilation .

‘Jim Emerton in Conversation’ is primarily a collection of interviews between the former Bradford College student and other top pigeon fanciers.

This may sounds limited in its appeal, and it will certainly strike a chord with those in the know, but it is not without interest to the layperson. The dialogue is entertaining, humorous and can teach you a thing or two.

“Are you stimulated by contact with nature in general?” Jim asks Birmingham roller pigeon enthusiast Graham Dexter.

“No not really,” he replies. “Other fanciers often have chickens, dogs, canaries finches, fish or interests in gardening and other interests in cultivation. I have been totally single minded in my obsession with Birmingham Rollers.”

“Do aerial predators have an impact on the hobby?” asks Jim. Graham goes on to explain how birds of prey are having a “devastating” effect on the hobby.

The book contains an interview with David Higgins, president of the Royal Pigeon Racing Association whose interest in pigeons began when he was a teenager spending most of his time on a farm.

“I eventually joined the local Guiseley North Road Club, enjoying success at all race points up to and including Lerwick.”

He also talks to Peter Farrow, manager of the Royal Lofts on the Sandringham estate in Norfolk, who enjoys the responsibility of being loft manager to the queen.

“I regard this role as the most challenging anyone can do in our sport,” he says, adding that he is hoping to develop the birds for all races, both nationally and internationally.”

Jim asks how we can best promote pigeon racing. “I think we can promote the sport to the younger generation by taking it to them,” replies Peter. “Seeing if schools would be interested in fanciers taking their birds to schools and giving them talks and showing them how the sport works.

“Maybe the school could adopt a loft where the children could go and get first-hand experience by watching how things work.”

He also believes that pigeon racing could be featured more in the media.

Jim Emerton was for many years at the top of the game in pigeon racing circles. Now retired and living in York, he enjoys sharing his experience and skills with fellow enthusiasts and novices.

He draws upon a lifetime of experience in delivering questions and interpreting answers.

The paperback includes an interview with the author himself, conducted by fellow expert Les Parkinson, with subjects covered ranging from wind direction to distances flown and nesting materials.

*Jim Emerton in Conversation is published by Mereo Books and is available from Amazon priced £9.99