Five Sisters Zoo’s escaped bird found in Fife

The starling was eventually caught in Burntisland. Picture: comp
The starling was eventually caught in Burntisland. Picture: comp
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From the Bathgate Hills to the Kingdom of Fife, this colourful escape artist has been on an incredible journey to rival the plot of any Disney ­blockbuster.

Since his escape from the Five Sisters Zoo in March, he has defied bird experts by surviving in the wilds for nearly three months.

But the purple glossy starling was finally captured yesterday in Burntisland and is now back home where his feathered friends welcomed him with open wings.

Lesley Coupar, of the West Calder-based zoo, said: “We are delighted to have him back safely and we are all amazed that he has survived this long in this freezing cold weather.

“If he had escaped in winter, he would almost certainly have perished.

“We didn’t think he would manage to get home and for a wee bird like this it has been quite an adventure.”

Making his survival even more remarkable, the native African bird is not adapted for cold climates, was reared in captivity and managed to evade predators despite his eye-catching plumage.

His journey, including a maiden flight across the Forth, is also unusual for a non-migratory species of starling not known for flying long distances. Burntisland is about 30 miles from West Calder as the crow might fly.

The bird, one of two breeding pairs of purple glossy starlings, flew out in mid-March after a storm tore a hole in his aviary. For two days he tried to get back in but, buffeted by strong winds, didn’t manage to find his original escape route.

Since then he has been spotted in Bathgate, the Gyle, 
Sheriffhall Roundabout and 47 miles from home in Dunbar before settling down in 
Burntisland on the Fife coast.

The bird had made its home in an open grassed area close to a road, with nearby trees and bushes affording cover. 
Wildlife lover Bruce Meldrum, 55, first spotted the bird about two weeks ago and had checked on it since.

But it was a friend who discovered the starling – which bears an identity tag – had escaped from the Five Sisters by looking on websites.

Mr Meldrum, from Burntisland, and zoo owner Brian Curran set a spring-loaded trap baited with food which finally proved successful yesterday.

He said: “I have been following its progress for a couple of weeks, making sure he’s fed and watered. But he has been surviving quite well and has become a bit of a local celebrity. You can’t miss him with his bright colours.

“The crows had a bit of a go at him, but he could take care of himself. The temperatures might have taken their toll if he had been there any longer”.

john.connell@edinburghnews.com