UP to a dozen police officers swooped on a blood-soaked bin as the unbearable stench of death filled the street.
Residents and business owners grew concerned as detectives sealed off the pavement on Comiston Road for hours.
But no-one will be up before the beaks after the reek of rotting flesh was found to be coming from chicken pieces dumped inside.
The suspected scene of fowl play was sealed off for more than six hours while police combed the scene for evidence.
And it was only after the bin had been removed for examination that officers realised it was a poultry matter.
Professor Paul Boyd, who works at the nearby Morningside School of Music, said people had started noticing the smell on Monday but it was only later that it became unbearable.
He added: “We could smell it inside the [school] building. There were flies everywhere and we went over for a closer inspection and there was what appeared to be blood dripping out of the bin. How so much blood could come out of one chicken I don’t know.
“Before we got the chance to call it in, the police were there. You err on the side of caution but one side of you is thinking ‘Could someone have been shoved in there?’.
“There was blood running into the gutters. Police wearing blue gloves did try to go into the bin but it would only open so far. I take my hat off to them. God knows how they did that without passing out.
“The police told me ‘We don’t know what’s in there and we are going to have to take the bin away in case it is something sinister’.”
The stench was so strong it was possible to smell it from 100 metres away, according to residents.
City-born Glenn Chandler, the man behind the award-wining Taggart TV series set in Glasgow, said: “Taggart would have said ‘If this had happened in Glasgow the police would check inside the bin but Edinburgh coppers don’t want to soil their lily-white hands’.”
He added: “Actually this reminds me of a real case when a pathologist took a charred arm back to his laboratory only to realise it was a French loaf.”
But Ian Rankin, creator of famous Edinburgh detective John Rebus, was quick to defend the force.
“Rotting flesh smells like rotting flesh,” the author said. “Wise to call it in; wise of police to deal with it.”
The administrator of the Facebook page Comiston in Morningside added that people couldn’t get within ten feet of the bin without vomiting.
He added: “Honestly, the smell was the worst I had ever smelled in my whole life. The police did have a quick nosey in the bin, but didn’t want to start taking things out in the street in case there was a corpse, and then they would have damaged vital evidence.
“They were very professional officers and I had a good chat with them, good guys with stomachs of steel for looking in that bin.”