Meet Kyle Morris, Bradenton’s Pigeon King
If you’re ever wandering in the Village of the Arts, on the corner of 10th Street and 11th Avenue, you might see this man staring up at the sky. Meet Kyle Morris.
Many in Bradenton know Kyle as one of the pioneers of the Blues Festival, which emerged from some of his backyard concerts. But the hobby that “saved his life” as a kid and remains his passion is raising, caring for and breeding flipping pigeons.
If you’ve never seen a flipping pigeon tumble through the sky, it is a sight to behold. These “rollers” are aerial acrobats! Each evening, Kyle carefully takes the birds from the coop, and lets them free to soar and roll through the skies over the Village. On a recent evening a small group of us joined him. As you can see, his prize bird of this year’s gang is Fantastico.
Kyle has been raising flipping pigeons since he became fascinated as a young boy. He credits the hobby with saving his life, and describes how he learned about it, and hid pigeons from his mother until she knew he was “hooked.”
Since he was a boy, he’s always had pigeons, but six years ago he started breeding them more seriously. He breeds “Birmingham Rollers, the only breed of pigeon that comes in every color a pigeon can be.
Kyle is a wealth of knowledge about pigeons, too. “Breeding pigeons is the oldest hobby – they were the first way people communicated. Reuters, the first news service, started with pigeons, people sent letters with pigeons, and during the war they had whole barracks set up for pigeons, just like for soldiers. There are more pigeons buried at Arlington Cemetery than dogs and horses put together”.
“It’s the funnest hobby. To me. . . I don’t expect everybody else to understand, I don’t even understand how I can stand out here and watch pigeons every day for my whole life, for 45 years!” As he watched the birds circling high in the sky, Kyle pointed out characteristics of each one. He knows each one’s lineage up to six generations back, recognizes each one’s traits and patterns, and never tires of watching them. “There’s something so Zen to me about letting my birds out and watching them perform, and then come back home, It’s when I do my best thinking. And I truly believe they saved my life as a kid.”
Toward the end of our visit, as the birds were circling back in toward their coop, Kyle reminded us, “Think about it, the white dove is the only thing recognized in every religion, and every culture, around the world, bar none, as a symbol of peace.”