AN Inverclyde couple who run a popular birds of prey centre are in a flap after being ordered to vacate their long-term premises in Langbank.

Hootenanny Owls, run by Donna and Billy Pickett, has been based at Finlaystone Country Estate for the past eight years.

The facility is the only one of its kind in Inverclyde and is home to around 50 birds - inlcuding falcons, hawks, eagles and owls.

The centre pioneers the use of birds for therapeutic purposes, and has helped children with disabilities, social anxiety and other conditions over the years.

Donna and Billy say they are now being forced to move the birds out of Inverclyde completely following a dispute with the estate’s owners over an expired zoo licence.

Greenock Telegraph:

The Kilmacolm couple claim were given just over a month to find a new home, despite having a rolling three-month contract in place.

Donna, 52, said: “For for us to open, it would mean we’d go to jail.

“We reached a point where we were running everything off site rather than on site, and that’s just not feasible.

“We also had avian flu and Covid, which meant we couldn’t open the centre even when the licence was there."

Billy, 59, added: “It’s hard to run a business when your hands are constantly tied behind your back.

“It didn’t matter what we did.”

Greenock Telegraph: Billy and DonnaBilly and Donna (Image: Newsquest)

The couple are now looking for new premises, but fear there is nowhere else suitable within Inverclyde.

They face having to fork out tens of thousands of pounds to supply new aviaries for the birds.

The couple plan to start a community interest company so they will be eligible for various grants, but cannot do this while classed as 'homeless'.

In the meantime, Donna and Billy have launched an online GoFundMe page to support their relocation efforts.

Donna added: “It’s ultimately going to be a loss to Inverclyde and that’s quite sad.

“We’ve always focused ourselves here. It’s such a loss - it really is.”

"We know the people of Inverclyde are really quite friendly and help as much as they can.

“It looks like we’ll need about £25,000 to £35,000 to build new aviaries."

OTHER NEWS: Inspectors highlight areas for improvement at Greenock care home

Arthur MacMillan, who manages Finlaystone Estate, said: “We can confirm Hootenany Owls will be leaving the estate shortly, and we wish them all the best with their amazing collection of birds.

“I wouldn’t have asked them to leave without very good reason and they have had every opportunity to meet the requirements of their lease and commitments to the estate.

“We are naturally concerned that they find a good home for the birds, so any help your readers may offer would be for a good cause.”

Mr McMillan also told the Tele that the estate would be introducing ‘new partners’ in the near future who will ‘enhance the visitor experience’ through provision of flying displays.