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by Diane Burroughs February 11, 2023 5 min read

By Diane Burroughs

Revised 6/14/2022

On National Pet Theft Day, it is important to remember that bird theft is a serious problem. Every year thousands of birds are stolen, with parrots being especially at risk. COVID-19 has only made the situation worse, and bird owners must be aware of the risk of their beloved pet bird being stolen. In this blog post, we will explore the different ways in which bird theft can occur, as well as what you can do to help keep your bird safe.

Why do people steal birds?

Parrots have been kept as pets for centuries, and the demand for them as pets has only grown over time. They are prized for their beautiful and varied plumage, their intelligence and playful personalities, and their ability to mimic human speech. Unfortunately, this also makes them attractive targets for theft. 

The Wild Bird Conservation Act of 1992 made it illegal to capture wild parrots for commercial use in the United States. This act was intended to protect the endangered populations of wild parrots in their native habitats, but it also caused a dramatic increase in prices for domestic birds, as they became a rare commodity. As a result, birds have become more sought-after than ever before, leading to an increase in bird thefts. 

What makes these thefts even more alarming is the fact that well-socialized, tame birds can cost thousands of dollars. In addition, some of the more sought-after species can cost even more. It's no wonder why so many people are tempted to steal birds when they know they can get top dollar for them on the black market. 

How frequently does bird theft happen?

Theft of birds, including parrots, is an ongoing problem across the globe. While exact numbers are unknown, it is estimated that thousands of birds are stolen each year in the US alone. Wild-caught birds are particularly vulnerable to poaching due to their popularity as pets. In some countries, such as Colombia, Brazil, and Peru, wild-caught parrot theft is a major industry. 

The theft of pet birds from stores, sanctuaries, zoos and private homes is also on the rise, especially since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Tony Silva, a prolific author in aviculture and parrot breeder, the loneliness and boredom of 2020 caused a surge in interest in birds and aviculture, which in turn sparked crime. Parrots are among the most commonly stolen animals and can be sold for hundreds or even thousands of dollars. 

The types of birds that are most vulnerable to theft vary greatly from region to region. However, macaws, cockatoos, and other large parrots tend to be targeted more often than smaller species. Additionally, rare birds and those with unique color morphs can fetch higher prices on the black market.  

Overall, bird theft continues to be a serious problem for pet owners and conservationists alike. It is important to take measures to protect your birds from becoming victims of theft. By taking simple steps like ensuring your bird’s enclosure is secure and keeping up with identification documentation, you can help reduce the risk of your feathered friend being stolen. 

Parrot Health

How can you protect your bird from being stolen?

Protecting your bird from theft is a serious matter and one that should not be taken lightly. To keep your bird safe, there are several steps you can take.   

  1. Consider microchipping your bird so that it can be identified if it ever gets stolen. Make sure to keep the microchip number in a safe location and update the address associated with it if you move. Likewise, keep documentation of your bird's leg band number. 

  2. Never boast or advertise that you have parrots, as this can make them more of a target for theft. Become vigilant if someone is asking a lot of questions about your bird. 

  3. Invest in home security. This may include cameras, alarms, or other methods of ensuring your property is monitored and secure. You may also consider hiring security personnel to patrol your property or attend events where your birds are present. 

  4. Take clear photos of any unique markings or features on your bird. This will help to identify the bird if it is ever stolen. Additionally, take photos of yourself and your bird together so that anyone who finds your bird can recognize that it belongs to you. 

  5. Learn how to use emergency SOS on your phone. Use it to get help fast whenever you have your bird on an outing. 

  6. Minimize posting about your birds on social media. Additionally, document any unique behaviors or phrases the bird says, as this may help the authorities track down the thief. 

By taking these steps and remaining vigilant, you can help to ensure that your bird is safe and secure.

What do you do if someone steals your bird?

If you ever find yourself in the unfortunate situation of having your bird stolen, it’s important to act quickly. Call 911 (999 in the UK) immediately and insist that the report declares a pet theft, not a lost pet. Contact your microchip company to report the theft, and notify local avian and exotic vets in case the thief attempts to take your bird to be treated.  

Report the loss to local animal control, pet stores, and animal rescues, and create flyers to distribute at relevant places like bird clubs, pet stores, parks, and other outdoor places. Make sure to post on your local NextDoor app or any other social media outlet, as well as contact local news outlets and radio stations.  

You can also register with websites such as 911 Parrot Alert which will send out an email alert to registered parrot owners in your area. Listing your bird on sites such as LostMyParrot is also recommended so that the public can help keep an eye out for your bird.  

Monitor sites like and Nextdoor app for pets for sale. If you believe you have located your pet and the person who stole him, never approach the person without first contacting your local law enforcement or animal control officer. Your pet might be removed from the premises or relocated before you can get to him. 

Remember that time is of the essence so make sure you take all necessary steps right away in order to increase your chances of reuniting with your beloved companion. 

Related Posts:

Why Microchipping Your Bird Is So Important


Wild Bird Conservation Act 

Engber, D. "Why is Everyone Stealing Parrots?" The Atlantic 

How To Protect Against Dog Theft 

Jourgensen, P. How to Protect Your Bird's from Theft and What to Do if it Happens 

Pet Theft 


Link to this blog


Diane Burroughs, LCSW is a licensed psychotherapist trained in ABA therapy techniques. She specializes in avian anxiety disorders and is certified in Nutrition For Mental Health. Diane has written a number of bird behavior books and she offers behavior consultations. She's developed a range of UnRuffledRx Science-backed Parrot Wellness Supplies.

Diane's products have been featured in the Journal of Avian Medicine and Surgery and at Exoticscon, a conference for exotic pet veterinarians. Her bird collars & supplements are stocked in avian vet clinics and bird stores throughout the US. With over 30 years in the field of behavior, Diane has created thousands of successful individualized behavior plans that help pets thrive.

TAGS: #StolenBird #BirdTheft #PetTheft


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