Little blue needs a feed
A little blue penguin needs your sprats to make it back into the wild.
The unnamed penguin has been staying at the NZ Bird Rescue Charitable Trust in Green Bay, where they have run out of fish for the seabirds.
It's the sole survivor from 20 penguins which were brought into the centre injured and malnourished last year. This bird has been at the trust for five months, after being found on Muriwai Beach with an injury from a boat propeller.
Volunteer Stacey Teague says the little penguin is lovable despite being a bit snappy.
"He's a bit of a character. He's supposed to be in hibernation so he's a bit grumpy."
Trust manager Lyn MacDonald says she's been able to keep the spirited penguin alive but they do not have enough sprats to get it fat and moulting.
"We've had to resort to fillets but it needs to eat whole fish with the bones and everything.
"They need to get really fat, it generally happens in April and they hide in little burrows for six weeks just living off their body fat while they grow nice new feathers."
Until the penguin grows waterproof feathers it can't go anywhere.
Ms MacDonald says both the Green Bay trust and Tamaki Bird Rescue are struggling to get enough fish for the seabirds they look after.
"It's been very hard to get the fish and we're running out. We've had offers of money by a few people but we can't buy the fish we need. We can't feed seabirds any substitutes - they need fish."
Tamaki Bird Rescue volunteer Corina Hooper only has enough fish for the pied shag colony she looks after to last a week or two. The seabirds can't be fed bait because of what it's treated with.
Ms MacDonald says the rescue centres rely on recreational fishers to keep the injured birds fed and healthy.
"We had great fishermen but they've damaged their backs and can't get out there.
"They would get us small catches but it was regular and kept us going."
A few unusual visitors to the centre didn't help.
"About two weeks ago we had two albatrosses and an Antarctic fulmar and an Antarctic petral come in and they're big birds which eat a lot of fish.
"We had some prions and other seabirds too which really wiped us."
Ms MacDonald is encouraging West Aucklanders to grab their bait catchers and fishing lines and help feed the birds.
"Even if you're out and you get a few more sprats then you need to just put a few in the freezer for us."
Bring fish donations to NZ Bird Rescue Charitable Trust at 74 Avonleigh Rd, Green Bay or call 816 9219.
- Western Leader
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