Bernard Roer, Olde Master Aviculturist


In the year Nineteen Hundred and Sixteen was born into this world the "Olde Tyrner" Bernard Roer. Wow, was that that a long time ago or what? Talk about a long time, to the best of my knowledge Bernard Roer has been involved with birds longer on the face of this earth than any other living soul.

l had the opportunity to meet Bernard for the first time in 1958. My Grandmother would always take me with her when she went over to Bernard's. which was quite often. She raised Canaries, finches, Cockatiels and parakeets and was single at that time. Bernard was a devout bachelor until he was 45 years old. I think my Grandmother had designs on him and I think Bernard didn't mind following her all over the bird farm. To this day, because of her political involvement, Grandmother at 89 years old still gets calls from past Governors of Arizona and many other dignitaries checking on her hut is never more pleased than to hear from me that Bernard and Barbara Roer want to know how she is and that they send their well wishes.

Bernard started with birds in 1921 when his father brought a young chicken with a broken leg to the farm house to become that evening's dinner. Bernard begged his father to allow him to care for and fix the chicken. His father finally said "OK, now you have livestock and soon you'll have deadstock." The chicken did not die. Bernard fixed it and it was a pet for many years. When r was eight years old Bernard told me the very same thing his father told him-if you have livestock, you'll also have deadstockalthough I did not fully appreciate what it meant until many years later.

At the tender age of seven or eight, Bernard was raising several types (breeds) of chickens, pigeons, ducks, guineas, and peafowl and working for his dad on the farm taking care of the poultry. When he was just about 15 years old he purchased a pair of lovebirds for $4.00 from the Southern California Bird and Pet Exchange (this was about 1933 and surprise, they were a pair). He raised 16 babies the first year and sold them at wholesale for $1.50 each. This has been the touch of Bernard the master breeder and salesman ever since. Remember, as Bernard told me, in i933 Double Yellow-headed Amazons sold for $15 each.

At the age of 19 (approximately 1936) Bernard rented four acres of bottom land on the hank of the Cave Creek River from his father for $100 per year. There he proceeded to farm 500 laying chickens with another 500 meat and replacement birds. Bernard was no dummy even at that young age-he continued to room and hoard at his parents' home to hold down his overall expenses.

During World War II a ceiling price was placed on chicken eggs and the government was buying almost all the eggs so Bernard acquired 200 Runner Ducks and started selling the eggs which became a very much in demand food source with no price ceiling (smart olde tymer). After the war the demand for duck eggs started to drop so Bernard purchased some Peking Duck drakes, put them with his Runners and sold the eggs to a hatchery for several years...