A pukeko on a shopping spree turned heads in Blenheim this morning.
The native bird, nicknamed Vernon, first headed to the National Bank. He was not buzzed in through the electronic doors, and headed off along Market St.
Just like the bird on the Genesis Energy television advertisement, the pukeko appeared to be scoping out unconventional items for a nest. He wandered into the Good 2 U discount store and tried to retrieve the metal binding spiral of a text book.
Marlborough Express photographer Scott Hammond took pictures before working with the owner of the store, Paul Lim, to place the bird in a box to prevent it from coming to harm in traffic.
A passerby, Rex Gapper, said the bird had been hanging around town for weeks and he had nicknamed it Vernon, after his brother.
National Bank branch manager Nicky Strong offered the use of a back foyer where the bird was happily ensconced for a few hours with a bowl of water, awaiting collection.
''He's nice and safe, he's not going to get hit by cars,'' she said.
''Everybody is loving it, everyone in the queue can see him and they're saying 'what is that bird doing there?'.''
Nelson Marlborough Fish & Game field officer Vaughan Lynn picked up the bird late morning and relocated it to a wetland out of town.
It was very unusual to hear of a pukeko in the middle of town, he said.
Pukeko were generally very territorial and hung out in family groups, but it was only two weeks ago he collected another one from the grounds of a resthome in Springlands.
He thought the residents might have been feeding it, but it had started to tap on their windows at night and creep into their units, leaving unwanted messages, he said.
Asked if the unusually wet Marlborough winter may have increased the territory where the wetland bird felt comfortable, Lynn said anybody's guess might be right.
Pukeko are game birds. The Fish and Game website describes them as a large, blue-purplish, wetlands-dwelling bird.
The website says the birds are held in rueful affection by New Zealanders, with a reputation as a friendly, cheeky bird, however they are very territorial.
- The Marlborough Express
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