The discovery of rare pateke - native brown teal ducks - in a part of Northland they are not normally found has excited conservationists.
But the discovery is tinged slightly by the fact that one of the two pateke found at Kowharewa Bay in Tutukaka died after they were hit by a vehicle.
Abigail Monteith, from DOC's Whangarei office, said last Thursday a member of the public found two pateke on Tutukaka Block Rd at Kowharewa bay Tutukaka.
One was dead and the other one was badly injured and taken to DOC. Pateke are the rarest waterfowl on the mainland with only 400 in Northland and about 2000 nationally.
Ms Monteith said DOC took the pateke to the Whangarei Native Bird Recovery Centre in Maunu where the bird was brought back to full health before being returned to the wild in Ngunguru at the start of this week. Despite the death of one of the ducks it was exciting to find Pateke in an area they were not known to be in.
"When the pateke was hit he had bad injuries and wouldn't have survived in the wild - he had a serious head injury and damaged eye. After receiving treatment over four days he was displaying signs of wanting to return to the wild (wanting to swim) and by returning him, his recovering will be sped up," she said.
"Pateke recover better in their natural environment and away from the stress of captivity and handling and we thank the members of the public who brought him in."
She said Pateke are still at risk of extinction if the threats to the species are not managed, including mammals such as cats, dogs, mustelids and pukeko and habitat loss through wetland drainage, forest clearance, and estuary reclamation.
Hunting, roadkill, dry spring and summer conditions which reduce food abundance and competition and hybridisation with mallards were also threats.
Ms Monteith asked anybody who saw unusual looking ducks, especially if they were injured, to contact the DOC emergency hotline 0800 DOC HOT (0800 362 468).