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The one that got away

BOB BAGGS looks at selling birds and explains why he regrets one particular decision to part with a bird close to his heart

Bob’s wife Nancy with chattering CharlieBob’s wife Nancy with chattering Charlie

HAVE you ever parted with a bird and then for evermore regretted it? Well, I have, particularly on one occasion.

Most of us who have bred domesticated types such as budgies or canaries have sold a bird at some time, only to find later on that it has developed into a far better show bird than some of those you have retained. One such incident that sticks in my mind was when I let a friend have a nice three-parts-dark Gloster canary hen for a nominal sum once. Paired to one of his cock birds the following year it produced, among a number of excellent offspring, a clear bodied dark corona cock bird that was judged best novice Gloster at the National Exhibition. I consoled myself by thinking I’d helped him win it, but boy I wish I’d kept that bird.

To buy or not to buy?
My biggest regret all started when a young man I knew was strapped for cash and he asked me if I would buy his chattering lory. At first I declined his offer, and although his asking price was very reasonable, I felt that keeping a lory simply as a pet in a cage was not really acceptable.

A week or so later I happened to walk past the young man’s house, and on a table on a lawn in the shade I noticed the chattering lory. The young man had assured me that it was a male, it was in immaculate condition and seemed quite at home in the typical parrot cage. Smitten by the bird’s beautifully coloured plumage, and its friendliness, I relented and bought it

Charlie, as it was later named, seemed to suit a chattering lory. Within days I had persuaded Charlie to accept food from my hand, and after a while he became tame enough to be released from the cage. Allowing the bird to exercise in this way did make me feel a little better about keeping him. What a delightful character he became, constantly demanding attention when out, which was often, and clambering all over my wife Nancy and myself.

Exhibition success
Being so friendly with people I thought Charlie might enjoy a trip out to a bird show, and would surely be a hit with the visitors. So he was entered at an exhibition in a neighbouring town. On our arrival at the event we checked and found Charlie had come first in his class and was awarded best parrot-like bird in show. Before having the chance to make a fuss over him an irate man approached and muttered, “Were you here when they were being judged, as my Goldie’s lory (which came second) was far better than that one.” Taken aback I simply replied, “No I was not.” This came from a well-known parrot breeder, who I had previously held in some esteem – until then.

Arriving home one evening I was concerned to find Charlie appearing fluffed up and unwell, remaining on the bottom of the cage. This did not seem something I could take care of myself, so a trip to the vet was thought imminent. But as Charlie moved slightly a round white egg rolled out from beneath ‘him’, and across the cage tray. Charlie was a female! Two days later another egg was laid, and obviously the bird was in prime breeding fettle and needed a mate. For a while I pondered over whether or not to try to obtain a male chattering lory for her, as they were readily available at the time and it should not prove too difficult.

Finally, I reluctantly decided that owing to my commitments with a stud of Gloster canaries as well, and not to mention the bantams and fancy pigeons, Charlie might be better off elsewhere. She was subsequently advertised in the columns of Cage & Aviary Birds, at a price that in all truth I rather hoped would be too expensive, but Charlie was immediately snapped up by a gentleman who had an aviary and a suitable mate.

Charlie was picked up the next weekend and as I watched her new owners car slowly disappear down the road I realised I had made a dreadful mistake parting with a wonderful bird. I should have kept her, found her a mate and built a special aviary. Although this was more than 20 years ago I have regretted it ever since.

 


Bob Baggs has kept 150 varieties of birds for more than 60 years, ranging from sunbirds to magpies.



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