John Hayward is a bird security expert and also runs the National Theft Register. Here he writes for ExoticDirect offering security advice for bird owners.
Bird theft is a profitable business, with some criminals stealing to order. Therefore exceptional aviary security is a must. Not only does it help prevent thieves from gaining aviary access, but it can also act as a visual deterrent.
Birds kept in outside aviaries are vulnerable to theft especially those that are rare and endangered and are listed on CITES Annex A, Appendix 1. You can find out if your bird is listed by visiting the CITES website.
Even those birds of lesser status kept and bred by private hobbyists can be targeted by the thieves, especially parrots, parakeets, cockatiels, canaries, finches and budgerigars.
If you’d like to know more about CITES regulation why not read our article Exotic Pets – The Trade in Endangered Species
As an owner or breeder (or both), your birds are invaluable, and often represent a lifetime’s work, commitment and dedication.
Many birds are housed in outside bird aviaries that are made of timber and mesh. Sadly they can offer limited protection from bird theft. Security should be installed to help prevent the birds from being stolen and as a deterrent to thieves.
It’s therefore advised that a number of security measure be employed to help prevent bird theft.
We offer parrot insurance that can cover vet fees, mortality and theft. Why not get a quote?
Alternatively you can call us on 0345 982 5505
Padlocks for your aviary
All openings, doors and gates, should be secured with high-tensile steel, close shackled quality padlocks thereby preventing the use of bolt croppers having access to the open hasp. Alarmed padlocks can also be considered as they emit an audible signal if tampered with.
Padbars for your aviary
Padbars on doors and frames should have the added protection of internal metal plates and be secured with tensile steel bolts.
Vibration sensors for your aviary
Wire mesh can be fitted with vibration sensors especially if the aviary is double lined. A double lined aviary can reduce the risk of the sensor being activated by your birds.
Steel sheets for your aviary
Wooden aviaries can be further protected by the installation of inner steel sheets or builder’s steel reinforcing mesh, to help prevent thieves gaining access via roof, sides and rear panels.
Door hinges must not have screws externally accessible to thieves.
You should remember….
It’s vital to have high levels of security on the actual aviary structure but to also be aware that we do not want the birds to be disturbed, especially whilst in breeding mode.
Infra Red Beam Systems for your aviary
You can use external infra-red PIR (passive infra red detector) beam systems that are either wired or wireless. These only activate when a human crosses the beam, and not a bird or smaller animal.
CCTV, floodlighting and alarms for your aviary
Linked to the PIR system can be CCTV. You can video from multiple locations, and feed this back to one screen, recording the images using a CCTV Multiplexer. You can also use floodlighting and audible alarms. Pre-recorded verbal announcements that announce the police have been notified are also an option.
Dial out units for your aviary
A further effective piece of equipment is the addition of a dial-out unit. Whenever any part of the system is activated or disturbed by a signal, a dial-out unit will send an immediate signal to an owner’s mobile telephone as notification.
These can be user-friendly as any zone can be switched off by the use of a hand-held fob.
Small bird thefts – nest boxes
It’s often the case that thieves will remove small birds together with the nest boxes. Nest boxes should be securely fixed via bolts and steel strips to allow access but prevent theft. All nest boxes should be marked with UV pens or other means of identification for evidential value if ever stolen. No other bags, sacks or spare containers should be left lying around that could be used to transport stolen birds from the aviary.
We offer small bird insurance.
Alternatively you can call us on 0345 982 5505
Photographs of your bird
All birds should be photographed, including any unique markings or features. Consider using the Parrot Passport provided by the Parrot Society, to document parrot details.
Find out more about the importance of bird identification by reading our article Bird Security
Your bird should be rung. As a hatchling it should have been fitted with a closed ring. If not, you should insure it’s wearing a split ring. Sadly thieves can remove split rings, so these are not a permanent method of identification. Rings can help to identify your bird should it be lost or stolen.
ExoticDirect offer a free lost and found notification service as part of our Parrot insurance. notifying John Hayward on your behalf, and enabling a continuity of service.
Microchipping your bird
Microchipping your bird is important. Microchips are a permanent method of identification, and can be invaluable in proving ownership of a lost or stolen bird.
A mini microchip is now available. This measures 8mm compared to the traditional 12mm microchip. Birds should be microchipped by an avian vet.
Why is it so important to register your bird with a specialist vet before it becomes ill? Read our article What should you look for when choosing a vet? It includes a real life story about Bertie an African Grey. To find a vet visit our Find a vet page
With professional bird theft on the rise, it’s essential that you consider whether your aviary is safe and secure enough. Security can also act as a deterrent to thieves.
Ensuring your bird is identifiable is also very important and shouldn’t be overlooked. After all, your bird is a loved, and important part of your family. Protect him.
John Hayward runs the National Theft Register for exotic species. He also works for ExoticDirect as our Security Advisor. You can contact him at:
Email: email@example.com Tel: 01869 325699 Mobile 07802 404929
This article has been modified for the ExoticDirect website
Own a cat or dog? Get pet insurance that covers up to £12,000 for dogs and £9,000 for cats in vet fees every year, including dental for illness and accidents with British Pet Insurance.