Two rare seabirds have been released back into the wild after crash-landing near two inland King Country towns.
The two tāiko/black petrels were discovered dishevelled and disoriented near the towns of Manaiti (Benneydale) and Taumaranui.
DoC seabird specialist Graeme Taylor says the tāiko are likely to have come from one of the species' two main New Zealand colonies – on Little Barrier Island and Great Barrier Island.
He said tāiko can get confused, lose their way, and be distracted by lights from built structures – so crash-landing in inland or urban areas is not uncommon for the species, particularly in poor weather.
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A banded tāiko chick from the Great Barrier colony ended up on a brightly lit sports field in Paeroa a few years ago.
"They can get seriously off track and finish up in predicaments like this," he says. "Even so, this is a long way south from their Hauraki Gulf colonies."
His advice for anyone encountering a wayward tāiko is to keep the bird in a dark place – like a garage, shed or a large cardboard box – and most importantly away from dogs and cats.
DoC says people should also be aware of the tāiko's ability to unleash a strong bite with its hooked beak.
Tāiko live 20 to 40 years, and fully grown adults can weigh up to 800g, with a wingspan of up to a metre.
The birds are classified as nationally vulnerable, and are particularly prone to being caught as by-catch in the fishing sector, due to their feeding habits.