THE peacocks living in Dunfermline's Pittencrieff Park are once again enjoying their freedom – and causing trouble for the volunteers who care for them – as avian flu restrictions are lifted.

The birds had been subject to a lockdown in the Glen aviary since November after the virus was reported in Fife, but have now enjoyed stretching their legs both near the sanctuary and further from home.

Having only unlocked the doors at the weekend, the volunteers have already had fights and a wild-peacock chase to contend with.

Carlyn Cane, of the Peacocks in Pittencrieff Park group, said: "They seem to be coping well, although we've had a few issues, Hamish and Louis have been fighting constantly.

"The volunteers know the first thing that needs done is to check the birds.

Dunfermline Press: Left, Hamish exploring near the grave site of Malcolm, who was killed in an attack on the aviary last year, and, right, Zoe, who had to be rescued after just one day of freedom by volunteers.Left, Hamish exploring near the grave site of Malcolm, who was killed in an attack on the aviary last year, and, right, Zoe, who had to be rescued after just one day of freedom by volunteers. (Image: Peacocks in Pittencrieff Park Group)

"They said they hadn't seen Zoe, we know she was missing through the night, we had been out looking for her but then got a message to say she was in a woman's garden.

"She wouldn't fly, we think something spooked her, we don't know if she's just been exhausted, but she didn't have any injuries.

"Me and Suzi (Ross, who leads the group) were saying 'It's day one, how are we already out in the car with a net?!'"

There are plans to work with Fife Council to create a "safe haven" for the birds to feed in the Glen away from the cafe area due to environmental health concerns.

The area is not ready yet but the volunteer team are hoping to keep their charges close to the aviary by feeding them outside at the same time each day.

They hope that this will also provide the public with an opportunity to see the peafowl more regularly.

"We would prefer they stayed down by the aviary for their safety but the birds have got out before the station has been put in place," Carlyn explained.

"We are feeding them out the front to see if that helps but it's early days, if people are sitting up at the cafe eating they'll go there, they're not daft."

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But freeing the birds hasn't been a positive for everyone – Carlyn says it has been an exciting but worrying time, with her and Suzi almost constantly checking the aviary CCTV cameras.

"For a few of the volunteers it is worrying," she said. "We are glad for them being back out but we are always checking.

"Suzi and I get notifications on our phones every time there is movement down there."

With the birds in breeding season there has been even more reason to keep an eye on them – if a peahen becomes egg-bound it can be life-threatening, so it is essential that the volunteers are watching them closely.

There have been eight eggs laid so far by some of the older females, with more hoped to appear over the next few months.

This weekend the group will be hosting an Easter-themed event to raise essential funds for the birds, including an egg hunt, arts and crafts, a raffle, and face-painting.

There will be an Easter bonnet competition with judging planned for 1pm on Sunday.

They have also "started a friendship" with Gemini Creations, who have created mugs adorned with several of the birds including Charley, who lives at home with Carlyn and Louis, who was injured in an attack on the aviary last year.