A man was found with four kestrel chicks in his car which had been taken from a Wolverhampton church, a court has heard.
The chicks had been taken from St Mary’s Church in Bushbury and stuffed inside a bag which was founded in Cogoo Sherman Bowen’s car.
The Whitmore Reans resident was fined and given a curfew order for being in possession of the two-week-old chicks.
Police were called to the church expecting to find metal thieves after receiving reports of activity on the church roof in Bushbury Lane.
At around 1.30am on June 19 they saw a car parked within the church grounds and Bowen was inside.
Officers could smell cannabis and searched the vehicle, where they discovered the chicks.
Prosecutor Mr Adam Weston yesterday told Wolverhampton Magistrates’ Court: “Officers noticed a very strong smell of cannabis and searched the vehicle.
“They found no drugs but did find a bag that had four chicks in it.
“The chicks were taken for examination and a vet confirmed they were two-week-old kestrels.
“Following consultations with the RSPCA and a police wildlife officer the nest was located at the church.
“One kestrel was still in the nest – the four recovered from the bag were returned to the nest.”
Bowen, aged 38 and of Newhampton Road East in Whitmore Reans, pleaded guilty to possessing a wild bird under the Wildlife and Countryside Act.
He initially pleaded not guilty but changed his plea on the day of his trial.
Defending Bowen, Mrs Hashmita Patel told the court: “It’s quite an unusual case.
“Mr Bowen is a carer and cares for his 74-year-old father who requires care all the time.
“The kestrels have been recovered with no harm done.”
Bowen was told to pay a £210 fine and adhere to a six-week curfew, meaning he has to stay in his home between 7pm and 7am each night.
Five weeks after the tiny birds of prey were discovered, police watched the fully-fledged birds fly their nest for the first time.
PC Chris Watson said of the incident at the time: “We needed to find the nest quickly as the longer they were away the more chance there was of their mother abandoning the nest, assuming she’d lost them.
“We found it hidden high up on the side of the church. It was great to see the mum and dad regularly returning to care for and feed their chicks and even more of a thrill to see them eventually fly the nest.”