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FIRST ON 3: Giant bird on the loose in Masonboro Sound area

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- Bird has been the word today on the east side of Wilmington.

Wilmington Police have been chasing an unlikely suspect along Masonboro Sound Road. They describe him as being about five feet tall, covered in feathers and quick on his feet.

Neighbors found him lurking in the woods. They tried cornering him, but he got away.

"We had him," neighbor Gloria Holland said. "We had all corralled him. I told them to all get in a semi-circle and corral the bird, but to walk slowly and to walk softly. Just a crack in the branches would startle him."

The rhea, a large flightless bird similar to an emu or an ostrich, escaped from its fenced-in home late Wednesday afternoon. Neighbors say the bird is easily startled, and raging hormones during mating season are not helping.

"I grabbed my coat and was putting it over his head. About the time I put the coat over the bird's head, the bird just took both legs and just threw the guy about two feet up in the air, knocked the wind out of him, and took off," Holland said.

Neighbors say this is not the first time the bird escaped, but his true love is back home calling for him.

"The female bird is in the pen, and he is just trying to figure out how to get back to her, because they pair for life, and they won't separate from each other," Holland said.

That means it should be just a matter of time until this bird on the run comes home to his love nest.

Neighbors say the bird is very fast and drivers in the area need to be careful of the 150-pound bird darting into traffic.

At last check, our fine feathered friend was still on the lam. We'll let you know he comes home to roost.

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