A former pub chef trapped wild goldfinches using a sticky substance smeared over fallen branches before keeping the birds in his bedroom, a court has heard.
Marc Lagalante, who used to live and work at the Althorp Coaching Inn, in Great Brington, was convicted of three wildlife offences in his absence at Northampton Magistrates’ Court.
A warrant for his arrest has now been issued, amid fears he may have returned to France.
The court heard how Lagalante was found with 13 wild goldfinches following a police and RSPCA raid at the pub, which was visited by the Prime Minister David Cameron earlier this year.
On February 16, police were called after neighbours saw Lagalante position two cages, each with a goldfinch inside, either side of a large pile of bird seed in a paddock next to the pub.
Among the scattered seeds, however, he concealed twigs and sticks covered in sticky bird lime.
It meant the birds, which were attracted to the area by the calls from the caged goldfinches, became trapped by the sticky substance when they flew in to feed.
Magistrates heard Lagalante was spotted hiding “motionless” in a shaded area close to the cages, staring “intently” at the spot.
When police arrived they searched the pub and found the 13 birds in cages, including some in his bedroom. A further two goldfinches crossed with another bird, were also in cages.
RSPCA officer Michelle Hare said: “These sort of cases are reasonably rare but it isn’t the sort of thing we never see.
“Because a lot of the time birds are trapped in wooded areas and places it is not seen and then kept in cages it is a worry about whether cases are known or not.
“We would hope the majority of people would know that wild animals can’t be caught and kept in cages. But it can be about money as well. Some people do it because they are worth £60 a go and it is simply a trade.”
However, she believed Lagalante was well aware he was breaking the law as his story kept changing.
She said: “He chose to pretend he had bred some of the birds himself and then he said he had bought them from some bloke out of the back of his car. The story kept changing.
“He was fully aware, otherwise he would have just said he caught them and put them in cages because he liked them.”
Lagalante will be sentenced if or when he is returned to court.