Injured cygnet Ziggy Stardust has a second shot at life thanks to a custom-built blue sock.

The young swan is among 70 birds Carol and Frank Harwood of Turangi have nursed back to health this year. Ziggy, who has a broken leg, will this Christmas keep company with a dozen ducklings, a chaffinch, kereru, a tui, a few baby thrushes and two blackbirds.

Last year the Harwoods rehabilitated about 55 birds.

Carol said Turangi locals often stopped by with injured and distressed birds. "People have got to know that there's someone here now to look after birds."


The Harwoods, who are semi-retired and run occasional fishing excursions around the fly-fishing Mecca, have kitted out their home with equipment to rehabilitate birds.

"If you don't have an incubator, something to keep them warm overnight, that's when you lose the bird."

Carol said Ziggy would spend the festive season with her and Frank. His foot was improving thanks to his polystyrene jandal but he still only had baby fluff and was too young to fend for himself.

He will be released at nearby Lake Rotoira or the southern end of Lake Taupo in late January. Te Ara, The Encyclopedia of New Zealand, said the country's black swan population was about 60,000, down from 100,000 a half century ago.