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Dear Parrots magazine,

So concerned

Fantastic to now have a date for Think Parrots 2015, 21st June will be another chance to meet old and new birdie people, and at a great location.

With reference to news item “Noisy birds must go!” (issue 203), Peter Hammond, whose hobby is a collection of around 200 parrots (nearly 500 according to neighbours), has not only upset his neighbours, but the whole village where he resides.  Reading this, I had a few thoughts, hence why I have put pen to paper.

Fortunately, I have never had issues with my next door neighbours nor the local council, but I have two friends who sadly have, one up North, one down in South.  Let’s say N & S to make matters simple.  Both these friends received several letters and phone calls prior to a visit by a council officer.  Down in the S, the advice was not to leave the birds outside in play aviaries unattended, then in the N, the dispute had been ongoing for over a year, noise regarding birds both indoors and then outside daily in play aviaries.  The interesting point here is that the adjoining neighbour had no issues, yet the detached property a distance apart did!  Both N & S explained why the birds went outside daily so they could have fresh air, physical and mental stimulation plus mix with their feathered pals where possible.   For both carers, it gave them easier access to wash down cages, perches, toys and bowls daily, without causing stress or harm to the birds.  I can vouch that both parties involved keep their birds in excellent facilities, one having 40 birds and the other six.  Both council officers were very impressed and both took it on board that all parrots would be vocal when someone arrives, all seeking attention, but they do settle quickly and any owner can agree, even my 10 ‘toos scream for attention both inside and out, then it’s back to play.  Both councils had also visited the properties at different times to see if the allegations of 24/7 noise was such – both agreed it was not.  The cases were put on file as malicious, but open to review.  In the S, the situation didn’t settle, my friend installed cameras to film the birds and record their noise, and it turned out that the neighbour was actually making unnecessary noises to frighten the birds.  The council yet again came out and viewed this and decided it was a civil court’s dispute.  The neighbour eventually sold up and moved!  No further issues, everyone is happy.

In the N, the situation became absolutely horrendous.  The neighbours began verbal abuse and it was so apparent they were the ones contacting the council because, of course, councils never give the information out.  Again the council visited and they then set up listening equipment in their neighbour’s property to monitor over four weeks.  The machines could not be tampered with - it was a secure set up.  My friend was not told this was being done so was unaware, and continued as normal.  To shorten a long situation, the council visited my friend and said the noise was not above the levels set, they could now see it was fully malicious and advised her to make her own case of the abuse.  These neighbours are elderly, I’d say in late 70s/early 80s.  Having seen them myself, they look spiteful, evil and aggressive.  I’ve watched them myself staring out of upstairs windows, watching my friend in her garden and staring at the birds.  I’ve seen him climbing up to view over his fence to aggravate the birds and I have heard verbal abuse.  The police have become involved and the elderly couple have been given verbal warnings, yet it still continues to this year!

So going back to Mr Hammond’s council, they do not seem to have followed the same route regarding viewing both sides.  Why is this I ask?  In my mind, I am asking how at 76 years, Mr Hammond is able to manage and maintain proper care and husbandry for so many birds on his own.  I know myself how much time each day 10 birds take, and I’m in my 50s, so is it the condition of said birds that has also alerted them there is a serious problem.  Also for me, I’m concerned whether Mr Hammond has, at his age,  made arrangements or even considered these birds’ future if he was not to be in good health or worse, die?  I do hope this is not another person leaving their collection to either the RSPCA or NPZ, and on that note I’d rather say no more.

I’m sorry but this situation regarding Mr Hammond and his birds with clear objections from a village has many open questions left unanswered, and for me I am now wondering what condition and facilities those birds are in as winter approaches.  When you keep these beautiful birds, it is not like having a budgie, canary or even cockatiel, there is much to consider.  Neighbours, noise, suitability in environment, your lifestyle, the birds’ needs, not just big cages, food, toys, but their daily behavioural requirements of physical and mental stimulation, bonding and what the downfalls are if their care is neglected.  An unhappy bird will scream, pluck features, turn aggressive and, sadly, some will self-mutilate and even die as they lose the will to live.  Sorry to have rattled on but please, is there anyone who can ease my concerns for the welfare of Mr Hammond’s birds?

To anyone else who has a large collection or even those as pets, do consider the future for your feathered beauties, don’t leave the decision to someone who does not know them, has no true knowledge of re-homing exotic birds and maybe the kindest thing which we all wouldn’t want, is to put them to rest so no more re-homing, stress, anxiety and vulnerability.  I know it is not easy, I know my words will cause outcry, but, sadly, charities are struggling to cope and manage birds, and then we come to the question of which bird charities do give 110 per cent to the birds, which have the best facilities, etc.  I know how and what I feel, but I admit I am one exception who is so fussy when anything involves my feathered family – but I have found some wonderful homes for some of the rescues I’ve taken on over the years.  My thoughts are with Mr Hammond’s collection.

Name and address withheld



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