A North Shore bird lover spent Anzac Day coaxing an escaped black cockatoo that had fled the sanctuary of Auckland Zoo into a cage using sunflower seeds to lure it in.

The escaped red-tailed black cockatoo was discovered this morning in Jensie Chapman's Birkdale backyard when she stepped outside after hearing squawking.

"We both spotted each other and he flew straight at me. I ran inside as he wasn't what I was expecting."

Mabo the cockatoo went missing from Auckland Zoo during a free-flying training session on Tuesday.

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Auckland Zoo said the bird was spooked by a group of seagulls that mobbed him, driving him into some trees.

His keepers stayed with him until it was dark and he'd fallen asleep. They were back before first light, but he'd gone.

This morning the SPCA, which was made aware of a sighting in Birkdale on the North Shore, immediately rushed out, but by the time staff arrived he had flown off.

Chapman noticed Mabo in her backyard this morning, but did not know what to do with the odd-looking bird. So she called her mother who used to breed birds and had experience with cockatoos.

Mum Alex McMillan got a call from her daughter explaining the situation, which she had a hard time believing, especially when Chapman told her mother it was a black cockatoo with a scarlet tail.

"I said, 'Are you serious?'

"I told her to keep it entertained and headed over with a bird cage and some sunflower seeds," McMillan said.

After arriving she managed to get Mabo into a cage by coaxing him down from an overhead cable with some seeds.

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Thinking the bird had come from the Waitakere area, they contacted NZ Bird Rescue in Green Bay, which then got in touch with the zoo.

Of all the places Mabo could have landed, neither McMilllan nor Chapman could believe he'd chosen their backyard.

"I used to have a sulphur-crested cockatoo, I've got canaries at the moment," McMillan said. "I couldn't believe it, he was a little bit scared."

Auckland Zoo posted its thanks online tonight.

A spokeswoman said "a very vocal and friendly Mabo turned up in Jensie's garden this morning and made himself at home".

"Mabo's back home with Daku [his Zoo mate], who was delighted to see him. He's been tucking in to some of his favourite treats (sunflower seeds and nuts) and has now settled in for a quiet night."

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