Stolen Birds - Can you identify your birds?
by David Johnson
This article contains 3 short stories of stolen birds and the sagas of their owners trying to get them back:
How Well Do You Know Your Birds?
Several years ago I had the misfortune of losing most of my birds. Not by disease or escape, but by theft!
My aviary was 10m long, 2.1m wide and 2.7m high. There were 3 smaller doors leading in from the outside and larger doors adjoining each flight. On the night of the theft, the centre external door was the only one locked... so many times since then I’d wished I hadn’t left the main doors unsecured.
The thieves entered in from one end and went through the entire 7 flights taking every bird and nest box in their path. All that remained were a few species which slept high in the aviary, towards the back roof, obscured from our unwelcomed visitor’s view.
The quantity of birds taken was too many for one offender; not to mention the task of carrying off some of those nest boxes I had spent hours setting up.
As I went through the somewhat empty aviaries I was most disappointed to find my pair of Rainbow Lorikeets, their nest box and eggs, all gone. These birds had been with me for years and I have many fond memories of their comical antics, as they showed off in their aviary. I was keenly counting down the days for the chicks to hatch.
After making the police report and contacting National Parks and Wildlife Services (NPWS), I learnt of another couple of aviaries in the neighbourhood which had also been targeted by the thieves. One elderly gentlemen had his aviaries broken into on three consecutive weekends. He was devastated by the loss of his birds.
I got to know both these other aviculturists as a result of our misfortunes - pity we couldn’t have met under nicer circumstances; but it was rewarding in the long run discussing our losses with each other... I later received a phone call advising some teenagers had been found at night in the area with a hessian bag, wire cutters and feathers. A check on their home premises located a small quantity of remaining birds. The others had been sold at local markets.
Each of the three aviaries raided was clearly visible from the road and all with in a couple of kilometres of each other, and the offenders’ addresses.
The remaining birds were seized by Police and taken to one of the addresses nearby where the owner observed two Rainbow Lorikeets not ‘fitting in’ with the others. He telephoned me and asked me about my pair. "The cock bird has a missing toenail and is quite friendly", I explained. Sure enough, it was my pair of Rainbow Lorikeets. I never saw or heard any more of my other missing birds - but at least I had my original Rainbows back.
I have wondered since, if I had to prove ownership of my birds in Court, how successful would I have been? Back in those days I didn’t ring many of my birds and my best description comparing one to another relied purely on contact with them.
Over the years I have heard of many people having pet birds stolen also. Most often, the owner has proudly displayed their pet on a front or rear verandah for everyone to enjoy their behaviour. In some cases both bird and cage are stolen.
It would be advisable for owners of birds with rings to note the numbers and accurately describe the birds in a (safely stored) document. If you have smaller cages capable of being carried, why not engrave your details on the base of the cage. If you don’t have access to an engraver, most police stations will loan you one.
The following two articles are recent events involving Courts and ownership of birds:
Late April 1995 in Fawkner Melbourne, a dispute erupted over the ownership of a Galah.
Two families living only a few houses apart in Dorothy Street ended up before a local Magistrate to settle the ownership dispute. The Magistrate’s decision was guided by the bird’s vocabulary.
Carmen Ferreira told the Court her Galah had escaped two years ago. But on Easter Monday she heard a bird call out "Hello, Racquel" from a nearby house in her street. Carmen was adamant the voice was that of her bird, ‘Racquel’. She had raised the bird from a chick and when she lost ‘Racquel’ it was like losing a member of the family.
PARROT TURNS ITS ABDUCTOR INTO JAILBIRD
A man convicted after a parrot identified his true owner with a piercing wolf-whistle has been jailed for 12 months.
Eric Buckley, 39, claimed the red-lored Amazon was his own bird, called ‘Blue’. But Georgina Morgans, 27, was adamant the parrot was called ‘Barney’ and had been stolen in a burglary at her home in New Malden, Surrey, U.K.
The jury at Kingstown Crown Court was convinced when ‘Barney’ was carried into court. He let out two wolf-whistles.