Page last updated at 14:10 GMT, Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Starling steals shop food scraps

Tesco starling
Alfie the starling: A favourite with Tesco customers

A wild bird has left supermarket bosses in a flap after taking up residency in the eaves of a superstore.

The starling is a regular visitor to the cafe at Tesco Extra on Hyde Road in Gorton, east Manchester.

Although the species usually gather in large roosts, the solitary bird - dubbed Alfie - has been living off scraps from diners since early October.

Tesco said the bird, which is protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, appears to enjoy its new home.

Duty manager Bernie Hassall said: "We've tried catching him but he likes the store so much he doesn't want to leave.

"Some people have suggested we should apply for a licence to kill him, but we'd far prefer to catch and release him.

"In the meantime we've made sure there's no risk to food or customers."

'Unusual interaction'

Staff have been covering up all food and preparing meals in a separate kitchen area away from the bird.

Starlings are usually found in open farmland and grassland but in winter they gather in large roosts as a means of protection from potential predators.

But, in common with most wild birds, Starlings are not usually keen on interaction with humans, RSPB conservation manager Peter Robertson told the BBC.

"To have a bird wandering around next to so many people is unusual, so it might have been there from a young age," he said.

If Tesco did want to trap its new resident, managers would have to apply for a special licence from the Deparment of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).



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