Watch the birdie! Cley’s famous feathered friend immortalised

It attracted the kind of crowds usually reserved for celebrities and royalty and brought a North Norfolk village to a standstill during a 10-week stay.

Now fans of Cley's most famous visitor will be able to watch the birdie whenever they like, after it was immortalised in the west window of the parish church.

The tiny white-crowned sparrow attracted twitchers, birdwatchers and wildlife photographers from across the globe during its surprise stopover in the village, which is a birding hotspot.

The intrepid bird flew 3,000 miles away from its usual territory of North America to land in the Cley garden of retired vicar The Rev Richard Bending and his wife Sue in January 2008.

As is traditional among twitchers, a charity collection was started while the sparrow stayed - eventually raising �6,378 to pay for the restoration of the west window.

It was also decided to mark the visit of the winged wonder by inserting its image - painted by Cley-based Richard Millington - in the window.

The wheels of Church of England consent turned slowly, and the work was also held up because nothing was allowed to be done while bats in the church were active.

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But last week the bird took its place alongside more likely stained-glass window subjects St Michael, St George, St Hubert, St Francis and Jesus.

Mr Bending said: 'It's still incredible when we think of what happened when the white-crowned sparrow visited. We met some lovely people.

'It's nice that the bird is in the window because the birdwatching community will be interested to come back and look at it.'

As was the case for the birdwatchers with their long lenses when the bird was in the village, the window image requires a sharp pair of eyes, taking up just four diamonds of glass.

When the sparrow turned up, it could only be seen from Mr and Mrs Bending's cottage.

So, before making the sighting public and being overwhelmed with visitors, they and some bird expert friends moved bird feeders around and tempted it to move towards their driveway, where it could be seen from the road.

It then remained in the field opposite until it flew away on or near March 10 2008.

The reason there was such a fuss over the sparrow was because it had only previously been sighted in Britain a few times - in 1977 at Fair Island off Scotland and Hornsea Mere in Yorkshire, once in 1995 at Seaforth in Merseyside and once in Cork, Ireland in 2003.