Rings on the wing

By Marc Busch

Over the last few years, while detecting in my local area in Victoria’s Golden Triangle, I’ve found many things (and even some gold) and three of these items were rings though not the kind that is fashioned from gold or silver. They were made from aluminium alloy and embossed with letters and numbers and no, they weren’t ring-pulls either. The first one I found brought back some of my fondest childhood memories.

These rings were once worn by racing pigeons and it's these beloved birds that were raised, trained and raced by my late father, my brothers and myself during the 1960s in the western suburbs of Melbourne. My father was passionate about his birds and over the years won many trophies. The birds were trained hard, usually twice a day, with a distance session about once a week. It was these distance sessions and the subsequent races where the birds faced their greatest hazards.

Predatory birds were probably their greatest threat, followed by shooters, powerlines, sheer exhaustion and dehydration. We sometimes had birds arrive home only to die on the roof of the loft, or soon afterwards, of horrific wounds caused by falcons, hawks, buckshot from shooters or with their breastbones broken by powerline strikes. Of these my father saved quite a number, removing pellets, sewing up their wounds and nursing them back to good health. These birds never raced again but took pride of place in dad’s loft and bred him several champions.

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