Decades ago the conservationists in New Zealand placed 80 odd concrete gannet birds in Mana Islands, 16 miles (25.3 kilometers) northwest of Wellington, the capital city. The purpose was to attract flocks of gannets – a kind of seabird. After a long wait, a lone gannet turned up a couple years ago. Unfortunately, for the gannet the story didn’t have a happy ending. Not only did he meet a lonely end this week, many suspect it was his unrequited love for a concrete gannet that claimed his life.
The love-lorn gannet was christened Nigel by the locals. It also earned the unfortunate epithet of ‘the world’s loneliest bird’. The bird was strictly monogamous until its last breath. It even built a nest for the decoy and often caressed its fake feathers. Finally, this week it died in the same love nest it built for its concrete mate.
Friends of Mana Island, a Facebook page even dedicated a poem to Nigel’s unrequited love.
You stayed awhile on Mana Island,
Attracted by your concrete mates
You built a nest, you did your best
But only Norman dropped on by.
We weeded, we painted, we sprayed guano around.
We hoped you’d find the real thing.
Three newbies arrived, a Christmas surprise,
But suddenly you are gone.
RIP ‘no mates’ Nigel