Rhea’s owner thanks A12 drivers who steered bird to safety

Colin the rhea is now at home outside Colchester Picture: DEBBIE JOHNSON

Colin the rhea is now at home outside Colchester Picture: DEBBIE JOHNSON - Credit: Archant

The owner of a large bird that got loose on the A12 last night has thanked members of the public for helping to steer him away from the rush hour traffic.

Mrs Johnson, Colin's owner, is a self confessed bird lady Picture: DEBBIE JOHNSON

Mrs Johnson, Colin's owner, is a self confessed bird lady Picture: DEBBIE JOHNSON - Credit: Archant

Colin the rhea held up rush hour traffic on the road on Thursday night after becoming loose.

The four foot tall bird belongs to Debbie Johnson who cares for a number of birds at her home.

“He came to us in October,” said Mrs Johnson,” he came from a colleagues daughter.”

Mrs Johnson, a self confessed mad bird lady, had previously reared her own rhea, Roger.

Colin and Roger have been reunited Picture: DEBBIE JOHNSON

Colin and Roger have been reunited Picture: DEBBIE JOHNSON - Credit: Archant


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When Roger’s fellow hatchings passed away Mrs Johnson set about finding him a friend.

Colin’s girlfriend Sue had also passed away, leaving Colin alone.

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Mrs Johnson said it was the perfect match.

Mrs Johnson is a staff nurse at Colchester Hospital in the A+ E Department and said the rheas were secured when she came back from a night shift on Thursday morning.

Waking up later in the day Mrs Johnson found that the gate securing the rheas had been opened.

Mrs Johnson’s drive sits next to a public footpath which goes past her house and stable yard and up towards the football stadium.

When she realised what had happened Mrs Johnson headed out straight away to find the bird.

“We were out looking for him,” said Mrs Johnson, “then my sister saw someone herding him back up.

“Rheas are not easy to herd. The people who helped him on the A12 did a fantastic job as they will bite if you get too close.

“They did amazingly well to get him into the field.”

Mrs Johnson said she wasn’t sure why Colin tries to escape. Under the care of previous owners Colin was found on the A133 after finding his way out.

“I really don’t know,” said Mrs Johnson, “he has over an acre of land.

“In the wild they walk for miles and run up to 30mph.”

Despite his ordeal Colin is now safe and sound with the family having taken more precautions to ensure Colin doesn’t get out again.

You can keep up to date with Colin’s adventures on Facebook.

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