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Dear Parrots magazine,

Hand-rearing is not the answer

I write in response to EB Cravens article “The Advantage of Former Wild Caught Parrots as Breeder Birds.” Issue 147. I have had articles published in Parrots Magazine since it first started. I have written several articles in the past similar to the one in question and took it many stages further. I will give this advice again, for what notice is taken.

If you want to save aviculture, you have to let your parrots parent-rear and before you say, “They will not or can not” – they can and they will. If they are pairs that have had their eggs or chicks constantly taken, they will need a few seasons to trust this will not happen again. I can say this, as this has been my experience with pairs that have been psychologically damaged. Hand-reared mature parrots have bred and parent-reared with me. Breeding pairs need the right stimulating environment, the right foods, and they need to be left alone to get on with it. Breeders constantly interfere with their pairs, by keep looking at eggs and checking chicks in their nest boxes.

How can you expect these intelligent creatures to be sane when they are kept in breeding cages and without any form of stimulation? How can you expect them to rear their own chicks when they are not fed nutritious foods. It is akin to cruelty to keep robbing eggs and chicks. EB says, “Try your hand at leaving and fully parent-rearing one single chick from a clutch” - what is wrong with leaving the clutch with the parent birds? Leaving one chick per clutch is not going to save aviculture, and hand-rearing the remainder of the clutch is perpetuating the problem.

Where have all the wild caught birds gone as thousands were imported into the UK over the years? We know that thanks to the efforts of Berna Perry here in UK, who has been breeding parrots for over 50 years, Amazons will breed into their early 50’s. Having said this, Berna’s parrots were well cared for and well fed. They had stimulating outside aviaries and her birds parent-reared. Berna did not part with her adult pairs and most of her parrots eventually died of old age. We can assume if Macaws, Cockatoo’s and African Greys etc., were kept in the same way as Berna kept her parrots, the same would apply. The imported parrots have declined because they were not well cared for, as they have been used and abused as production machines. EB says, “Now is the time for us to value what is most valuable in aviculture.” Sorry, but it has been left too late and it should never have come to this, if parrots had been valued in the first place. I hope we never relax the importation ban, to do so would allow breeders to continue this abuse. It is not ethical or humane to take parrots from the wild, put them in confinement, which in the majority of cases, is a living hell.

My pairs of Amazons, African Greys, Timnah Greys, Citron Cockatoos and Green-wing Macaws, have all parent-reared their chicks, and I did not interfere. We did provide spacious aviaries with stimulation and all my pairs could view all the other pairs. The only area that was afforded some privacy was the entrance to their inside quarters where they were fed and watered and which housed their nest boxes. I stopped breeding parrots because my parent-reared youngsters, which other breeders were keen to purchase, in the main did not leave me until they were nearly 12 months of age. And having lived in a colony aviary after leaving their parents, they were not permitted themselves to parent-rear. I was not going to continue breeding parent-reared parrots to be abused in this way.

Continue hand-rearing and aviculture will be destroyed.

Pam Fryer (by email)




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