News of the death of Nigel, New Zealand's loneliest gannet, has spread around the world but many paying their respects online to the gannet who spent years trying to seduce a fellow gannet made of concrete.

Nigel moved to Mana Island five years ago and quickly fell in love with one of the 80 concrete decoy gannets on the uninhabited island.

The decoy birds were placed on the island in an attempt to encourage living birds back. Conservationists used the decoy birds along with the sound of gannet calls broadcast over solar-powered speakers to try to attract a colony of gannets onto the pest-free island.

Nigel, for many years the only living gannet on Mana, fell in love with one of the decoys. He spent a long time building a nest of seaweed and twigs on the edge of a cliff near his concrete love, in a desperate bid to steal the bird's concrete heart.


Over the years, conservationists spotted Nigel's courtship of the concrete bird, grooming her concrete feathers and chatting to her lovingly.

After years with nothing but fake concrete birds for company, Nigel no mates gained some living company, when three other gannets joined him on the island. Still, he remained faithful to his concrete gannet.

Nigel's body was found lifeless, near his concrete love.

"I certainly feel sad, having had him sit there year after year with his concrete mate," Mana Island Conservation ranger Chris Bell told Fairfax.

"It would have been nice if he had been able to hold on a few more years and found a partner and bred.

"I think it must have been quite a frustrating existence. Whether or not he was lonely, he certainly never got anything back, and that must have been very strange experience, when he spent years courting. I think we all have a lot of empathy for him, because he had this fairly hopeless situation," the ranger told the Guardian.

A poem penned in honour of Nigel, the gannet: To Nigel You stayed awhile on Mana Island, Attracted by your concrete...

Posted by Friends of Mana Island on Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Nigel's life may have been a lonely one but he was, ultimately, responsible for bringing more gannets on to the island.

"He was an attraction that helped bring in other birds – gannets like to nest where a gannet has nested before. It's really sad he died, but it wasn't for nothing," Bell added.


All over the world, people are mourning the loss of Nigel and vowing to always remember him.