From March to May, around three times a week, volunteers can be found patrolling the streets of Auckland’s CBD looking for Cook’s petrels, a small seabird endemic to Aotearoa.
University of Auckland PhD student Ariel-Micaiah Heswall began the patrols in April this year to rescue mainly fledglings and take them to BirdCare Aotearoa, where she volunteers. She is hoping to hit the streets with volunteers earlier next year.
Heswall said some of the seabirds can become disoriented by the lights in the city centre and are forced to land.
Here the seabirds can suffer from dehydration, starvation and predation. Some of them have collided with buildings and can die from their injuries.
The location of any Cook’s petrels found by the patrols – dead or alive – are noted down. Volunteers use gloves to handle the birds and they are placed in boxes or a special bag. They are then taken to BirdCare Aotearoa.
As part of her PhD, Heswall is conducting research to understand sensory impacts on seabirds.
She said BirdCare Aotearoa and Birds New Zealand are trying to build up a database of where the Cook’s petrels are becoming grounded. They want to see if light pollution can be lessened in these areas.
BirdCare Aotearoa general manager Lynn Miller said 153 Cook’s Petrels had come into their care this last season and the patrols run by…