A CITY man has been accused of trying to capture wild birds by smearing glue on to tree branches.
Police visited Peter Smith’s home, in Edgerley Drain Road, Fengate, last May, following a tip-off, a court heard yesterday.
They found an empty aviary, along with several small cages, one of which contained chaffinches.
Above, a tree branch had been bent over and covered in a sticky gunge, Peterborough Magistrates’ Court was told.
The following week, officers returned with RSPCA inspectors and carried out a thorough search of the property.
The aviary area had been demolished, but four wild goldfinches were found caged in the shed, along with rat-trapping glue and a cage designed to spring shut if a bird landed on it, the court heard.
Smith (20) denies eight charges brought against him in a private prosecution by the RSPCA.
He has been charged with four counts of illegally possessing wild birds, the attempted taking of a bird, and three charges of possessing trapping equipment.
Smith claimed he bought the goldfinches legitimately from a shop and only used the traps when he needed to put them back in their cages.
Smith denied the aviary and glue-covered branch had ever existed.
Prosecutor Michael Taylor said the objects found at Smith’s home were capable of being used to catch wild birds.
He said: “It is compelling evidence of an attempt to commit the offence.
“Rat-trapping glue is used as bird trapping equipment.
It is smeared on sticks or branches to attract wild birds, which generally become snared.”
Avicology expert Roger Caton said the goldfinches had exhibited signs of behaviour consistent with being captured from the wild.
He said the birds were clearly stressed, with visible damage to their beaks and feathers.
“The effects were similar to what I’ve seen on other birds captured from the wild,” he said.
The court heard Smith claimed Michael Hall, of Murrow Bank Aviaries, Murrow, near Wisbech, had sold him the birds but Mr Hall said he did not know the defendant and would never sell British goldfinches.
The case has been adjourned to March 18, as new evidence has come to light, ring identifies species sold in captivity BIRDS bred in captivity have to be sold with close-fitting metal identity rings attached to their legs, the court was told.
But the goldfinches discovered at Smith’s home wore coloured plastic bands, which can be bought from pet shops and fitted to any adult bird.
Avicology expert Roger Caton said: “Close-fitting rings are attached soon after a bird has hatched, and cannot be removed.
“None of these birds was fitted with them, and no self- respecting pet shop owner would sell goldfinches without them.”
He said Smith had provided no proof the goldfinches had been bought from Murrow Bank Aviaries.