THERE'S love in the air at the Peacocks in Pittencrieff Park sanctuary as the first egg of the season is laid.

And it's proud Louis, the bird which was severely injured in a horrific attack on the aviary last year, who could be stepping into fatherhood.

While he suffered a broken leg and wounds to his neck, another peacock, Malcolm, was tortured and killed in the incident.

Carlyn Cane, one of the volunteers in the Glen, told the Press: "We're really excited, the first time he put his tail up he had us all in tears.

"The older birds haven't been mating - it's only been him.

"We are over the moon, eggs are so precarious, but we're hopeful."

Dunfermline Press:

Pictured: Proud dad-to-be Louis watching over the egg. Photo: Peacocks in Pittencrieff Park. 

The news is monumental for the peacocks group - Louis has been timid since the attack and in June, just days later, eggs which they hoped would hatch Malcolm's chicks were found to be not viable.

Louis has mated with three birds - Katie, who laid the egg, Angel, and Pip - and Carlyn hopes that this will result in new additions to the 15-strong group of birds living in the aviary.

"There was a really sweet story about Malcolm last year," she said.

"Suzi (Ross, the head volunteer) caught Malcolm and he was flying down to get food and flying back up to give the peahen who was sitting on eggs.

"Louis is so good with the chicks, he's never aggressive, unless he gets a fright.

"He's been really vocal but he does have a croak, whether or not that's because of the damage to his throat area we don't know, but it makes it sound like the Glen!"

Peahens lay eggs every two days for a period of 10 days and then will sit on them when they are finished.

Dunfermline Press:

Pictured: Katie, who laid the egg. Photo: Peacocks in Pittencrieff Park. 

They sit for 28 days, getting up to briefly move around and eat for the first 25, and staying put for the final three.

Any hatched chicks will stay with their mothers for 12 weeks until their initial imprint bond breaks down, sometimes resulting in fights between the birds.

Carlyn continued: "Last year we had five born but we lost a lot of eggs, the year before we had a bird called Henry and he was a dad to 13 the previous mating season.

"Suzi is going away in the middle of breeding season and I am under orders for her not to come back to lots of babies!

"We have three boys and four girls who we are hopeful will start."

The season, a third for Carlyn and seventh for Suzi, lasts until August but doesn't usually begin until the middle of March, which Carlyn says could mean the birds will take a break in between.

It can also be a dangerous time - eggs can get stuck resulting in the mother becoming egg-bound, which can be life threatening.

But they won't know how many eggs will hatch chicks until the end of the 28-day period, unless they can sneak a peek at what is going on while the peahens aren't looking.

"If the mum gets off the egg we can do something called candling, we can shine a torch and see if the baby is moving, what position it is at," Carlyn explained.

"The mum only gets off for five minutes maximum, and if she catches you she wouldn't go back to them."

The peacocks have been shut up inside their Pittencrieff Park home since November due to fears around avian flu.

READ MORE: Bird flu outbreak leads to extra measures to protect Dunfermline's peacocks

They faced the same situation last year, though Carlyn says that this time the birds are showing fewer signs of stress.

She said: "We want to keep them as safe as we can, they're too precious to lose."