The lonely gannet Nigel lived what could be called a tragic life for a bird. This New Zealand gannet survived for many years in the north of the country, alone, surrounded by replica gannets which were made out of concrete.
Nigel lived on uninhabited Mana Island in the north of New Zealand for many years. Conservation officers put the immobile replicas on the island and broadcast the sound of gannet via solar-powered speakers aiming to create a colony which would settle on the scientific reserve.
The lonely gannet Nigel arrived in 2013 and was the first gannet to appear in 40 years on Mana Island. He lived there alone until a few weeks ago, when three real gannets of his species arrived on the island. Unfortunately, he didn’t make friends with his new neighbors and soon after, he died.
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Chris Bell, a ranger for the Department of Conservation discovered Nigel’s body surrounded by the replica gannets.
“Nigel was very faithful to the colony,” Bell was quoted by The Guardian. Bell lives and works alone on the island, located 1.55 miles off the west coast of the mainland.
“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,” he added.
Arrived 5 years ago
Bell told The Guardian that after Nigel came to the island five years ago he sought the company of one of the 80 replica gannets that were positioned on the eastern cliffs. They have painted yellow beaks and black tipped wings so that they look real.
The researchers observed the lonely gannet Nigel as he was making a nest for his mate. He was found grooming her chilly concrete feathers and even chatted to her, even though it was, obviously, one-sided, throughout the years.
Not interested in making friends
Nigel died a few weeks after three other real gannets moved to the island, although conservation staff hoped that Nigel would make friends with the gannets that are made out of flesh and blood.
Unfortunately, he didn’t show any interest towards them, according to Bell. He remained loyal to his concrete mates.
“From a conservation point of view, he was a massive asset to have. Because the concrete gannets – they may have fooled Nigel – but they never fooled another gannet. We always considered Nigel increased our chances of getting a colony going, and that seems to be in the end what happened,” Bell told The Guardian.
“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.”
Friends of Mana, which is a volunteer group working on the island said that they were “devastated” upon hearing that Nigel died, The Guardian reported.