A love-sick albino peacock that caused a flap when it regularly rambled around a village centre looking for a mate has been found dead.
Now mystery surrounds just how the all-white bird - dubbed Bertie - met his end.
Residents in Handcross were frequently startled to see Bertie wandering onto rooftops, into gardens and into a local pub car park. Now many have been left shocked by the bird’s death.
Bertie’s presence in the village had proved controversial with many delighted to see him while others were annoyed at the racket he created with his loud cries.
Retired scientist Colin Smith, whose wife found Bertie’s body in a field while out walking their dogs on Tuesday, is convinced the bird was deliberately killed.
“I have knowledge at looking at dead animals and I am pretty certain that someone bashed his head in,” said Colin. “If it was an animal who killed him, it would have eaten him.
“My theory is that someone round here got fed up with the noise and killed him.”
Colin estimated that Bertie was around 16 years old and revealed that, at one time, he lived in his garden before taking up residence at his neighbour’s property.
His neighbour, he said, had found Bertie a mate after a village furore over Bertie’s mating cries. “Now the peahen is calling out because she doesn’t know where her mate is.”
Colin, who has notified the RSPCA of Bertie’s death, is incensed at the killing. “There is no need for it,” he said.
“The question is are all the other animals around here now at risk? If you have got someone behaving like a psycopath who is killing something for the fun of it, what about the deer, badgers, foxes, buzzards, everything else around here?
“It is just disgusting that somebody can do something like that for no good reason. I’m not pointing the finger at anybody because I just don’t know.”