'Loneliest bird in the world' dies surrounded by concrete companions

'Loneliest bird in the world' dies surrounded by concrete companions

A gannet dubbed the world's loneliest bird has died on a New Zealand island surrounded by the colony of concrete statues which were its only companions.


Key points:

  • Nigel arrived on Mana Island in 2013 and at the time was the only gannet to live there
  • The island's concrete gannet colony was installed to lure more birds to the island
  • Nigel died suddenly next to the concrete replica he had formed an attachment to

The seabird, known as 'No Mates' Nigel, appeared to have taken a shine to one statue in particular, and was found dead next to it earlier this week.

Its death was announced by the Friends of Mana Island on Facebook.

"Nigel our first gannet has died suddenly," the Friends said in a post.

"Nigel won the hearts of Friends of Mana Island members and visitors to the island, settling there alone.

"Volunteers have spent many hours over the years maintaining the concrete colony."

According to the New Zealand Department of Conservation, a concrete gannet colony was built on the island to encourage the birds to settle there.

Nigel was the first flesh-and-blood gannet to arrive, making landfall in 2013.

Three other gannets later settled there, but Nigel appeared to remain committed to the concrete replica.

Encouraging seabirds to Mana Island is a major part of the restoration project there, as their burrows create ideal homes for lizards, tuatara and insects.

The Department of Conservation said seabirds also delivered nutrients to the area in the form of droppings, spilt regurgitations, addled eggs and corpses.

Conservation ranger Chris Bell told the BBC Nigel's death was "incredibly sad".

"This just feels like the wrong ending to the story," he said.

Mr Bell, who found Nigel's body, told The Guardian the bird had been in a "fairly hopeless situation".

"Whether or not he was lonely, he certainly never got anything back, and that must have been a very strange experience," he said.

"I think we all have a lot of empathy for him."