Sirocco the "spokesbird" kākāpō re-uniting with DOC kākāpō ranger Jake Osborne. PHOTO: Sara Larcombe/DOC
After two years “off the grid”, Sirocco, the Department of Conservation’s (DOC) spokesbird kākāpō, has come out of hiding.
He was located during a search by two DOC kākāpō rangers, on his island home deep in the Fiordland wilderness after spending the past two years completely off the radar due to a failed transmitter.
Kākāpō operations manager Deidre Vercoe said it was great to be able to check in with the famous parrot after his hiatus from the public eye.
“While we’ve been out to search for him a few times, we were confident he’d be perfectly happy out there in the wild in his predator-free home. We did miss him and his quirky personality though, and we’ve been really keen to catch up with him.”
DOC says about 5% of transmitters on kākāpō fail each year so the failure of Sirocco’s transmitter is not unusual.
Sirocco imprinted on humans as a chick, after he required extensive treatment for a respiratory illness. Now, with his 21st birthday approaching in March, DOC says he is still friendly with people, and appears no worse for wear from his temporary exile.
However, the Kākāpō team would be taking a precautionary approach until they could better understand his demeanour and behaviour after two years of bachelor life, Ms Vercoe said.
“We know people will be keen to see him return to public life, however, like a true superstar, any future plans will be on his terms.”
Sirocco was named New Zealand’s "spokesbird" for conservation after he shot to fame following an encounter with zoologist Mark Carwardine, who was filming a BBC documentary Last Chance To See with British actor Stephen Fry.
For now, DOC says Sirocco will remain on his island home with a fresh transmitter so the team can keep an eye on him.
“Once we know how he’s doing and how he feels about having humans back in his life we’ll reassess the situation,” Ms Vercoe said.