Duncan the fugitive kokako, a runaway native bird who conservationists feared was dead, has finally been recaptured.
The $20,000 forest-dweller was netted by Department of Conservation rangers in the Auckland suburb of Glendowie early this morning with the help of local enthusiasts and neighbours.
Duncan, a rare male kokako, escaped his pest-proof home in the Waitakere Ranges two years ago, shortly after his arrival at the Ark in the Park Sanctuary.
The relocation from the King Country was relocation estimated to have cost $20,000 on top of thousands of hours of volunteers' time spent on predator control.
He couldn't be tracked because of a malfunctioning transmitter, and because kokako are notoriously poor flyers, keepers feared the worst. Duncan was presumed dead.
However, the plucky bird somehow made the 25km journey to Glendowie, showing up in a backyard two weeks ago.
It's thought he's hopped through parks and scrambled along tree branches to get to the East Auckland suburb where he was spotted in a resident's backyard.
Bird enthusiast and Glendowie resident Ruth Hill told the Western Leader she was alerted to the bird by her neighbour who thought it looked out of place.
"I didn't believe it but I went around and there he was. To find one in your own backyard is almost an unreal experience."
Ark in the Park's manager Gillian Wadams said it was an epic journey.
"There are cats, dogs and traffic in the area. Because kokakos are low flyers, he could easily be hit by a bus and because he's come from a park, he may not have experience with roads and traffic," she said.
Department of Conservation rangers had several attempts at catching the wayward bird, finally succeeding this morning. A DOC spokesman said he was in good condition.
Duncan will now be returned to the Waitakeres.
Kokako are considered a "vulnerable" species.
About 33 single kokako remain in the Waitakere ranges and about 970 breeding pairs remain in the North Island.
- © Fairfax NZ News