“Born under a bad sign
I been down since I begin to crawl
If it wasn’t for bad luck, I wouldn’t have no luck at all”
If you recognise the lyric, you will almost certainly be humming the tune. The stanza is taken from Born Under a Bad Sign, a blues classic (1).
Even if you don’t know the song, I’m confident its sentiments will be familiar. Not only is the list of misfortunes that befall bird keepers endless, but they also have an uncanny knack of afflicting ‘one of their best birds’. Some people have suffered so many mishaps that I sometimes wonder how many ‘best birds’ they’ve got.
Bird keeping is not a hobby for the fainthearted. Problems, setbacks and sheer bad luck are part of the hobby; it’s how you deal with them that matters. Take Stan Bolton’s horrendous experience earlier this year as an example. Having lost most of his birds and seen a lifetime’s hard work destroyed in a matter of minutes, he managed to salvage his breeding season and still won Best Lizard or Best Champion at major shows; a triumph of skill and determination over despair. How many of us have those qualities?
I hope never to be put to that test, but like most bird keepers I have my ups and downs. This season has been no exception. In many cases I realise that I have unwittingly contributed to the problem: good intentions with bad consequences. The two cases I am going to show you here fall into a different category. Dare I say it; ‘bad luck’?
The first case involved a near-non cap silver cock, that had caught my eye as a juvenile. One morning I found him huddled on the floor of his cage, looking very sorry for himself. He was limping, and reluctant to perch. I cleaned out the cage, replenished the bedding and moved his food and water to low level. That is where he spent the next week or so, but gradually he improved and starting perching again. It took him three weeks to recover, and that is when I discovered the damage: he had lost most of the claws in his left foot.
The second case had many similarities, but with more serious consequences. I found a near-clear cap silver hen in similar circumstances and followed the same procedure, but noticed that the healing process was not progressing smoothly. I caught her up to investigate and discovered that her leg was badly swollen around the ring. I have a proper ring cutter, but struggled to cut the ring, thanks to the IOA’s introduction of a super-hard alloy to deter tampering. The process took over a minute and I feared that the hen would loose her foot. I was in luck for once; her recovery took a long time and her leg was permanently deformed, but her foot was saved.
The cause? I don’t know for sure, but both accidents happened to the leg wearing a closed ring, which suggests that the ring had somehow been trapped in the wires. Why there should be two instances within a fortnight, when I had experienced only one other case in the previous 27 years, is a mystery. Bad luck perhaps?
I am not looking for sympathy here. I count my blessings; others have suffered far worse. Nevertheless, if you’ve ever wondered if it is only you who suffers from ‘bad luck’, I can assure you that you are not alone.
The good news is that both birds survived, are in good fettle, and will be used next breeding season. Perhaps this story will end with good luck after all . . .
A happy New Year to my readers. May 2017 be a year when you enjoy good luck.
Born Under a Bad Sign was first recorded by Albert King in 1967, although the best known recording is by Cream, 1967. The lines are adapted from an earlier song Bad Luck Blues by Lightnin’ Slim written in 1954.