Additional measures are being taken to protect Pittencrieff Park's peacocks following an outbreak of bird flu at a poultry farm in Crossgates.

The Scottish Government's chief veterinary officer recently confirmed the infected premises as the Woodlea Poultry Farm and set up a three kilometre protection zone and established a 10 kilometre surveillance zone.

A strain of the highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1 has wreaked havoc on wild bird populations in Scotland in recent months and has seen a number of farms across the country quarantined.

Following confirmation of the outbreak, Fife Council’s head of protective services Nigel Kerr said the council was supporting the Scottish Government’s Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA).

“We are working closely with partners in APHA, Fife Coast and Countryside Trust, and Fife NHS, monitoring and advising on this situation," he said.

“Once avian flu has been confirmed, there are strict national guidelines we have to follow when dealing with ill or dead birds. Disease control zones and restrictions are in place in the area. We’re following all the national guidance and supporting APHA while this outbreak is dealt with.

“The team from APHA are actively contacting bird keepers within the disease control zone providing advice.”

Fife Council has stressed that while bird flu remains an issue, it’s really important to follow advice which includes not picking up or touching dead or sick wild birds, keeping pets and dogs away from any dead or sick birds and not feeding wild waterfowl.

Anyone living in or around Crossgates who keeps poultry or other birds is asked to contact the APHA immediately by emailing or phoning 03000 600 704 (choose option 1).

The outbreak has led to the team of volunteers caring for Pittencrieff Park's peacocks to "ramp up" their precautions in their efforts to ensure the city's iconic feathered residents stay safe.

Due to current restrictions, the peacocks have already been penned in since November and the team are doing all they can to reduce risks.

Carlyn Cane, one of the Peacocks in Pittencrieff Park members, said the birds were managing well.

"We have got 15 birds that live here and we have got them separated," she told the Press. "Eight of them are out the front and seven are out the back so they are not all together. They have been coping really well. It helps having a heater as that calms them down.

"This is the third lockdown we have had in the last couple of years and there have been signs of them being stressed, but this year they seem a lot calmer and the difference is we have the heater so it is making a difference.

"They have got quite a lot of space that they can still wander around but we have ramped up the precautions. Obviously the public can come in to the hallway but they can't get in beside the birds.

"We have precautions for staff, we have footbaths all over the place and blue shoe covers, gloves, hand sanitisers and a maximum amount of people allowed in the aviary – there are only six people in the hall at one time.

"We are coping but we are obviously worried, especially because it is so close. All we can do is do our best and wait and see what happens. It must be heart wrenching for the owners of the chicken farm."

The peacock volunteers are in regular contact with the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and the Scottish Government’s Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) to keep up to date with any changes in guidance.

"We are just doing everything we can. All our birds are registered with APHA. We didn't have to register them because there are less than 50 but we did register them so we can get up to date information," added Carlyn.

"We are constantly getting emails saying this is where it is and this is what to do."