Dying rare sea bird rescued by locals

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Fairy prion.
Fairy prion.

A rare bird has taken flight again thanks to the help of Hawke's Bay locals.

Pam Turner has been rehabilitating birds her entire life but was very surprised when Hastings man Neil Milne brought a dying fairy prion, or titi wainui, to her last Friday.

"To get something as rare as that was pretty challenging," Ms Turner said.

"We had to get out our textbooks to check what it was."

While the birds saved by the Hastings woman number into the hundreds, rehabilitating the prion was challenging because it was the first live one she had ever seen.

Mr Milne had found the sea bird, which are usually never seen in the region, on his St Georges Rd property.

Young fairy prions weigh between 100g to 120g, but the one brought to Ms Turner was "flat with sunken eyes", and only weighed 65g.

She said she had no doubt that if it hadn't been brought to her it would have died in the next few hours.

Ms Turner initially had to put food into its beak to make sure it ate, but once the prion got its appetite back it dove into its food.

"I got up during the night to check it was still alive, for the first couple of nights I didn't think it would make it."

But after spending five days with Ms Turner, the prion regained its strength.

She found a kind boatie who took the bird 10km out to sea and released it.

Birds New Zealand Hawke's Bay representative Bernie Kelly said it was incredibly unusual for the bird to be found in the region.

"They're reasonably common birds - 10km off the coast," he said.

"It probably sailed downwind inland, in the near dark, and hit a tree."

- Hawkes Bay Today

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