Eyes open for disorientated Cook’s Petrels

Hibiscus Matters’ bird rescuer, graphic designer Lorry McCarthy, thought this was a pigeon when she first saw it, nestled alongside the paper’s Florence Ave office. It was a bit wobbly on its feet but not concerned about being picked up. On the advice of Birdcare Aotearoa, Lorry took it to the nearest vet (Ōrewa Beach Vets) and from there it was transported by SPCA volunteers to Birdcare in West Auckland.

Hibiscus Coast locals have rescued a few Cook’s Petrels (titi) recently, including several which were found in Ōrewa.

Information about these endemic birds, including where they landed, will inform a PhD study by Birdcare Aotearoa volunteer Ariel-Micaiah Heswall into the effects of light pollution on these seabirds.

Titi are currently flying over Auckland on their way to the Tasman Sea. They become disorientated by artificial light and can end up, perched and confused, in cities and towns. They are not able to take off from the ground so are very vulnerable to predators.

Birdcare Aotearoa volunteers, in Green Bay, are looking after dozens of the birds and recently released 35. 

Last year, nearly 150 were rescued in three weeks and there appear to be more this year.

It is possible that this year’s numbers of rescued birds have peaked but Birdcare expects to have them brought in for another month or so. 

Anyone who finds one should place it in a ventilated cardboard box, lined with a towel. Do not try to feed the titi or give it water. If you can’t drop it off at Birdcare Aotearoa in West Auckland yourself, take it to the nearest vet, as soon as you can – the sooner the birds are admitted, the more likely they are to survive. SPCA volunteers deliver them from the vet to Birdcare.

There, the titi get a vet check and any medication needed, as well as fluids. They are fed a specialised diet until they reach a suitable weight for release.

For more information, and to support the work of this voluntary bird rescue organisation, visit https://birdcareaotearoa.org.nz/donate/