Friday, September 09, 2016

Lonely gannet has found love with concrete decoy

A lonely gannet has found love with a concrete decoy high on a rocky outcrop off Porirua, New Zealand. For 40 years a colony of concrete gannets has sat 80 metres above sea level on Mana Island, surrounded by fake bird poo, to lure real birds into making their nests on its terraces.

Finally, last November, the decoys succeeded in attracting a single male. But in the absence of any other company, the gannet has paired up with one of the decoys. "He's really taken with it ... he likes it so much he's built a nest out of dirt and seaweed," said Friends of Mana Island president Brian Bell.

"He's a lovely bird, but he's a bit confused. We think he must be a young male kicked out of another colony." Bell said the 80 concrete birds were put on the island's west side in 1976, but never managed to attract the real thing and were eventually overgrown by weeds. In 2012, the colony was unearthed and shifted to another terrace.

YouTube link.

A solar-powered sound system plays gannet calls over and over out to sea, and volunteers repaint the fake guano every year. (Video). Associate professor of behavioural ecology at Massey University Dianne Brunton said: "He's obviously quite desperate ... it's good practice for him." She said decoy birds were commonly used to encourage other birds into nesting because there was safety in numbers.

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