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Source: Department of Conservation

Date:  12 May 2023

DOC has responded to calls to collect up to 150 tītī stranded inland in different parts of northern Southland.

DOC Operations Manager Murihiku John McCarroll says the young seabirds, which have recently left the nest, are getting caught out by stormy weather.

“At this time of year, young birds are beginning to fledge and begin their journey to the northern hemisphere. It is not uncommon for young birds to encounter difficulties as they don’t yet have the experience or strength to navigate rough windy weather.”

It is thought the recent long spells of fine, settled weather have meant the birds have not had the opportunity to develop and strengthen their muscles, which has led to the larger than usual numbers getting into strife.

“As they are a seabird, once they land inland they are unable to take flight again without the necessary lift provided by ocean breezes.”

“If people find tītī in their backyard, and they feel confident in doing so, they should transport them in a cardboard box to their nearest beach. Gloves are recommended to ensure the handling does not affect the waterproof coating on the birds’ feathers.”

Bird drop offs have also been arranged for locations in Invercargill, Gore, Winton, Garston, Queenstown and Alexandra. Please contact 0800 DOC HOT (0800 362 468) for details on locations and times.

For tītī found at beaches, our advice is to leave them be, John McCarroll says.

“The beach is the best place for them as it’s their natural habitat and gives them the best chance to rest and recover.

Unfortunately, it is possible a number of the tītī will not survive. We understand this is upsetting, particularly for people who come across them in their backyards. People not advised to take tītī into their homes; they are a wild seabird and this will cause them great stress.

DOC has been in contact with mana whenua and they are supportive of the approach, John says.

“The chair of the Rakiura Tītī committee is happy with the direction the Department is taking with its response to this event.”

People are always welcome to contact DOC on 0800 DOC HOT (0800 362 468) for any advice.