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Angry bird: Walkers told to avoid love sick capercaillie 

Capercaillies can become aggressive and attack passers-by if they get too close.

Capercaillie: Can get aggressive on the hunt for a partner.
Capercaillie: Can get aggressive on the hunt for a partner. (c) RSPB

Walkers are being told to stay away from popular trails in rural Aberdeenshire to avoid being attacked by a lovesick capercaillie on the hunt for a mate.

The Glen Tanar Estate announced that the animal had been "displaying" and "holding its ground" on some trails.

The activity, known as "lekking", is designed to entice visiting females and there are fears the male could attack passers-by if they get too close.

The tracks have been closed as it is against the law to disturb a capercaillie while it is trying to mate.

A spokesperson for the Glen Tanar Estate said: "Although it is currently outwith the normal time of year for lekking activity, the behaviour currently being displayed by this bird is lekking behaviour, therefore, disturbing this bird may constitute an offence.

Cairngorms: Home to the capercaillie.
Cairngorms: Home to the capercaillie.

"We can understand peoples' desire to catch a glimpse of the rare capercaillie, but it is important that this protected species be left alone.

"Please help us to ensure the welfare of this bird and ensure that everyone follows all on-site signage and respects the restrictions in place."

Within the UK, capercaillie occur only within Scotland and 80% of them live in the Cairngorm National Park.

In the 1970s there was thought to have been around 20,000 of the bird in Scotland, but in 2014 that number had dropped to just 1000.

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