Stranded Westland petrels

Department of Conservation —  06/12/2014

By Jose Watson, Partnerships Ranger in Hokitika

Two juvenile Westland petrels/tāiko were bought into us last week after being picked up off the road by a Hokitika driver.

A stranded Westland petrel in a box.

A stranded Westland petrel found by a Hokitika driver

During this time of year the young birds are learning to fly. Because petrels are unable to launch off flat ground they find a high place, like a steep bank or a tree, and launch off that.

The technique takes some refinement so inevitably some end up on the ground. If the area they land on is flat with nothing to climb the birds are unable to relaunch themselves.

Ranger Chippy Wood of Punakaiki holding a juvenile Westland petrel.

Ranger Chippy Wood of Punakaiki holding a juvenile Westland petrel

DOC often gets calls about these stranded petrels and we keep boxes at the Punakaiki Pub and the Punakaiki Visitor Centre for members of the public who find these stranded birds.

The good news is that we found a perfect launching spot for the two petrels and they were both released last week.