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News / Two ducks wing it from Pipiroa to New Caledonia

Two ducks wing it from Pipiroa to New Caledonia

Two ducks wing it from Pipiroa to New Caledonia

Posted April 07, 2020
Environmental

Media Release: Fish & Game NZ

Two intrepid mallard ducks, one drake and one hen, banded in Pipiroa less than two weeks earlier turned up 2,000 miles away on the small New Caledonian island of Lifou.

A Lifou Island vet was alerted to the birds, one of them appearing exhausted, and during examining the birds saw the bands details and contacted the Department of Conservation Banding Office in Wellington, who notified Fish & Game.

A check on the band details revealed the two birds were part of the group of 880 mallard and grey ducks banded in Pipiroa by Fish & Game staff and dedicated Hauraki Plains hunter-volunteers less than two weeks earlier.

Lifou, home to around 10,000 people, is one of the Loyalty Islands group to the east of New Caledonia and is 81 km long and 24 km wide.

Each year around 4,000 or so mallard and grey ducks are banded across the Waikato and Auckland region by Fish & Game in order to better understand the life cycles of the birds.

While mallard ducks are migratory in the northern hemisphere, they are decidedly sedentary in New Zealand where they were introduced from Britain and the USA between 80 and 160 years ago.The great majority of banded New Zealand mallards never move more than 25km from their home.

This makes the 2,000km journey of these birds extremely rare and it is the first time two banded mallards have turned up together.

Historical Fish & Game data suggests only 0.0001% mallards make these heroic journeys.

If anyone finds any bird with a band on it they need to report it to Department of Conservation at bandingoffice@doc.govt.nz or call their local Fish & Game office.

Reporting a game bird band enters you into an annual prize draw organised by Fish & Game.

The Lifou island vet will of course have two entries and Fish & Game staff have tongue-in-cheek offered to personally deliver any prize, if he wins one, to his island paradise.

Fish & Game New Zealand