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Dear Parrots magazine,

Unfair attack

I am writing to protest at the letter from your anonymous correspondent (February’s edition of Parrots) concerning Peter Hammond.  This was a personal, unprovoked and misguided attack on an honourable man.

My observations and experiences over 50 years as an aviculturist lead me to believe that far too many parrot keepers are untrustworthy and aviculturally incompetent.  Moreover, they are likely to be engaged in perverted avicultural practices, such as the futile breeding of useless mutations, or worse still, the hand-rearing of parrots for the pet trade.  Peter Hammond is the antithesis of such people and in a world of avicultural mediocrity, he stands out as an example of what a true aviculturist should aspire to.

A true countryman, he has worked with livestock all his life and has developed a natural affinity to parrots.  With dedication, hard work and sound management, he has achieved some very remarkable successes over a very wide range of parrots.  I could write pages about these successes, but will confine myself to one species, A Dufresniana, because his success with this species gives a true measure of the man.

A Dufresniana is an enigmatic and poorly understood parrot.  It has always been neglected by aviculturists, and our avicultural literati, who have written millions of words of irrelevance, seem oblivious to its existence.  For reasons I have yet to fully understand, Dufresniana is one of the most difficult to breed of the Amazona group.  Compared to Dufresniana, Brasiliensis and Rhodocorytha are an avicultural doddle.  Peter Hammond seems to have overcome the problems associated with the challenging species.  Sometimes failing, but always self-critical and prepared to re-appraise his management, he now regularly breeds from several pairs of Dufresniana.  He may be the only person in Europe to achieve this level of success.

Regarding his local problems, he is faced with what I would term ‘the village mentality’.  Those who, like myself, have lived in rural villages will readily recognise this phenomenon.  In such villages there is a small, but vocal, minority who are suspicious, inquisitive, overtly confrontational and have delusions of self-importance.  The claims by a few villagers of excessive noise from Peter Hammond’s parrots need some questioning.  The farm premises where he keeps his parrots formerly housed thousands of squealing pigs, with a stink to match.  When he purchased these premises, he would have been perceived as an outsider coming into a village, buying up a prime site by out bidding local residents.  The fact that he kept a large collection of parrots would be a quite alien phenomenon to local people.  Peter Hammond is a quiet, reclusive man and when not with his own kind, some would say he is aloof and unsociable.  Put all these factors together and you have all the ingredients for a very unfortunate situation that threatens the existence of Peter Hammond’s collection.

Your correspondent suggests that the welfare of Peter Hammond’s parrots is compromised by the fact that he is 76 years old.  This accusation is presumptuous, fallacious and borders on the malicious.  Peter Hammond is ably and enthusiastically assisted by family members.  Like any septuagenarian, he will have profoundly contemplated his mortality and the effect his demise might have on his parrots.  In order to safeguard the welfare of his parrots, he will have put in place contingency plans for such an event.

In the recent past, Peter Hammond has lost his wife, survived cancer and suffered the theft of 40 rare parrots.  He now faces the village lynch mob and box ticking jobs-worths from the council.  To see him unfairly attacked by another parrot keeper is for me, a step too far.

John Scott, Cambridgeshire



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