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Confused Birds Crash-Land On New Zealand Roads November 20, 2009
Hutton's shearwaters feeding over water
Hutton's shearwaters spend most days at sea feeding on small fish and krill.
Wildlife experts on New Zealand’s South Island first scratched their heads when they heard reports of migratory birds crash-landing onto roads and smashing into buildings.

Park Ranger Mike Morrissey on the Kaikoura coast, near Christchurch, said it was soon discovered that the Hutton’s shearwaters were being confused by bright lights.

“It varies a lot. We've had up to 50 odd in one night,” he told reporters.

Experts say the once-rural area is being developed with new buildings and more bright lights, causing confusion for the birds.

When roads become wet and lights shine on them, the birds mistake the pavement for a pond or bay.

Morrissey says the birds are fortunately only stunned or knocked out by the crash landings. But they need a steep cliff or watery surface to take off.

Residents are being urged to take the stunned birds to the coast and launch them over the water.

Photo: File