Two black petrels (tāiko), a rare seabird species, which crash-landed near Benneydale and Taumarunui have now been released back into the wild.
DoC's 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.
The two tāiko were discovered dishevelled and disorientated more than 60km inland from the North Island's west coast and the two islands.
Kina Tweeddale, Department of Conservation (DoC) community ranger in the Maniapoto District, says: "The arrival of the two tāiko caused a stir on local social media, alerting DoC to their plight. We quickly realised we had to step in to ensure these two tāiko got back on track for their seasonal migration to Central America."
So, DoC notified Ōtorohanga Kiwi House. Ōtorohanga Kiwi House manager Jo Russell says: "The birds were brought to us by members of the public, and we had the two tāiko checked over by a local vet."
Despite the unfortunate circumstances the birds found themselves in, they were in surprisingly good condition.
Then, the two tāiko were transported to Raglan and released on Mt Karioi as they need lift to get airborne, so they must be released into the wind off a clifftop or a steep hill by the sea. Mt Karioi was ideal as it has also been the focus of ongoing predator control to protect native bird species.
It is not uncommon for tāiko to crash-land inland or in urban areas. The birds can get confused, lose their way, and be distracted by lights from built structures, particularly in poor weather conditions. A few years ago, a banded tāiko chick from the Great Barrier colony even ended up on a brightly lit sports field in Paeroa.
Taylor says: "Tāiko 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."
The birds are classified as nationally vulnerable, and are particularly prone to being caught as bycatch in the fishing sector, due to their feeding habits. Tāiko live for between 20 and 40 years, and fully grown adults can weigh up to 800g, with a wing-span of up to a metre.
When encountering a wayward tāiko, keep the bird in a dark place like a garage, shed or a large cardboard box, but most importantly keep it away from dogs and cats. People should also be aware that the tāiko can bite with its hooked beak.
To report wildlife emergencies, use the 0800 DOC HOT phone line.