Cyclone Gita blows in frigatebird
Not only did Cyclone Gita leave destruction as it passed through New Zealand, it also left behind a rare bird.
Green Bay NZ Bird Rescue Centre is currently rehabilitating a young lesser frigatebird.
Trustee Miriam Whelan said the bird was usually found in places with warmer climates such as Fiji and Tahiti.
‘‘There’s been very, very few sightings ever in New Zealand,’’ Whelan said.
‘‘We think it was probably Cyclone Gita that brought it in.’’
Whelan said the frigatebird was found in a remote location on Muriwai Beach about two weeks ago.
She said it was ‘‘severely underweight’’ at 469 grams.
‘‘It probably wouldn’t have survived much longer without food,’’ Whelan said.
‘‘They get to a point where they don’t have enough energy to get up.’’
The bird now weighed 815g. Staff at the centre first thought it was a gannet until managers did some research and realised it was a frigatebird.
The Department of Conservation and Auckland Museum visited on March 13 to confirm the type of bird.
New Zealand Birds Online said lesser frigatebirds were ‘‘distinctive’’ tropical seabirds that only occasionally reached New Zealand.
The lesser frigatebird weighed just 469 grams when it arrived at the bird rescue centre.