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The Life and Death of Nigel, the World's Loneliest Seabird

February 04,2018 21:14

But types of gannets have settled all over the world, including in Scotland. In the 1990s, conservationists set up concrete gannets on the western side of Mana to lure real birds. They painted the decoys' beaks yellow, the wingtips black, the plumage ...


“He nested alongside her,” said Linda Kerkmeester, vice president of the environmental conservation group Friends of Mana Island. “He was seen wooing her by preening her. Nigel was also seen trying to mate with her.”
A botanist doing a survey for Friends of Mana Island named the bird Nigel “no mates” because he had no friends.
“I think the saddest part of this story is what a frustrating existence to be courting this stone bird and getting nothing back,” Mr. Bell said. “Not getting rejected, not getting encouragement.”
Though Nigel lived a mostly solitary life on the island, he became the linchpin of the efforts to draw other gannets to Mana.
The colony was one of several seabird projects undertaken by a partnership that included a local tribe, Friends of Mana Island and the Conservation Department to drive gannets to spread out and inhabit other islands.
“New Zealand was an amazing place for seabirds before humans arrived,” Mr. Bell said. “Lots of seabirds nested on the land. Bringing seabirds back to the land is important.”
The seabirds are key to the project because they provide nutrients in the soil for insects and plants to thrive, according to Friends of Mana Island.
New Zealand, whose native species have been devastated by predators like rats that were introduced to the country, is aiming for an environmental moon shot. The nation is waging a battle to eradicate all invasive predators by 2050. Several islands have already been cleared.
Mana, which was farmed from the 1820s to the 1980s, is pest free. It has been restored with 500,000 native trees, and lizards, seabirds and other native birds have been translocated, Friends of Mana Island said.
“Mana Island is a great scientific reserve because Mana never had rats,” Mr. Bell said. “So it’s a great place to reintroduce species.”
In December, after years of hoping the Mana seabird project would take off, conservationists redoubled efforts to build up the colony. They repositioned the decoys and moved the speakers so that recorded bird sounds would be carried clear out to sea. The fake birds got fresh paint. And suddenly, Nigel had company.

Birds,Conservation of Resources,Decoys (Hunting),Mana Island (New Zealand)

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