Red-footed falcon found shot dead in Whittlesey
A rare and protected bird of prey which had drawn crowds of birdwatchers around the UK has been found shot dead.
The red-footed falcon was spotted in Staffordshire in July and had "delighted" nature lovers in the Midlands and East of England, the RSPB said.
It said the young male, which was found dead near Whittlesey, Cambridgeshire, last month, had been shot.
The charity, National Wildlife Crime Unit and police are investigating.
A £1,000 reward for information has also been offered.
Mark Thomas, from the RSPB, said: "The death of this beautiful and rare bird is sickening, it has spent nearly three months touring the UK and delighting thousands of people only to be shot dead in Cambridgeshire.
"I only hope that someone who knows something about the circumstances in which this bird was killed will share any information they have to help the police in their investigation."
The RSPB added the bird was "incredibly tame" and "approachable".
It had been killed with a shotgun and was likely to have been killed where its body was found. Investigations are continuing into the possible motive for the shooting.
- 28-34cm (11-13in) in length with a wingspan of 65-75cm (26-30in)
- Rare visitors to the UK from the nearest breeding population in Eastern Europe
- Migrate to Sub-Saharan Africa to spend the winter
- On the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Endangered Species as "near threatened"
Source: RSPB and Journal of Zoology
The RSPB is still offering a £1,000 reward for information leading to the identification of the person who shot the bird, while Suffolk Police said it was still an active investigation.
Cambridgeshire Police wildlife crime officer Alun Bradshaw said it was "awful" that such a rare bird had been needlessly shot and in such a "cowardly" manner.