The world’s loneliest bird has died. And his story will break your heart.
The bird, affectionately known as “No Mates” Nigel, is a bit of a legend in New Zealand, where he resided. He was a lonesome gannet who lived off the coast of Mana Island.
The residents of Mana had the idea that they wanted to bring gannets to the island. They set up concrete gannet decoys to make it look like there were a ton of gannets already there. And they played the gannet bird call over speakers to lure the birds to the island.
Nigel was the only one who answered the call.
Arriving in 2013, alone, Nigel soon made his home among the concrete statues. Perhaps most heartbreaking, Nigel soon fell in love with one of the statues. He built a nest for “her,” did his best to groom her, and eventually died lying next to the statue that he loved.
“Whether or not he was lonely, he certainly never got anything back, and that must have been [a] very strange experience,” said conservation ranger Chris Bell. “I think we all have a lot of empathy for him, because he had this fairly hopeless situation.”
Unfortunately for Nigel, he died at the exact wrong time. About a month before his tragic death, other gannets began to settle on the island. Three other gannets started hanging out on Mana Island once the researchers tweaked their speakers a bit. But by then it was too late. Nigel had lost his will to live after being alone for so long.
Rest in peace, “No Mates” Nigel. You certainly have a lot of human friends who will remember you fondly.