A budgie breeder was devastated to find that his champion bird had been killed and 21 other prize budgies had been stolen from his aviary in Cornwall the night before a major show.
Andrew Pooley, 58, believes the killing and theft is the work of a rival.
After Pooley got home on the evening of August 20, he noticed that it was quieter than usual. He found that 21 birds were missing and his best of breed champion, Penmead Pride, was lying dead on the floor.
''As soon as I opened the door, it was so quiet, I knew something was wrong. I looked around and saw the birds were gone and I panicked,” The Telegraph quoted him as saying.
''Then I looked on the floor and I saw Penmead Pride was dead – he had been stepped on.
''The person or people who did this must have known they were there and knew exactly which ones to take; they only targeted my show team.
''They all had identity rings around their legs but this person is obviously an expert who would know how to remove them – leaving me with no way to prove they are mine.''
He said Penmead Pride was his first registered champion, and was his “pride and joy.”
Pooley had been scheduled to participate in the Cornwall Budgerigar Show the next day and believes the actions were a “deliberate act of sabotage.''
A spokesman for Devon and Cornwall Police was quoted by The Telegraph as saying: ''The owner and officers have appealed to budgerigar publications to help investigate who is responsible and where the birds may have gone.
''By the nature of the incident it appears the home has been deliberately targeted by someone in the bird keeping community.''
The missing birds, which are worth £2,000, were not insured.
Pooley, who has been raising budgies for 40 years, still has 42 birds left, but he said they are not up to the standard of the ones which were stolen.
''I would just like to get my hands on whoever did this,” he stated. “Those birds are worth the world to me.
''What hurts as well is that they were taken by someone with knowledge, someone with an eye to know a good bird.”
He added that, since the attack, seven more have died from shock.