A Fiordland kea has finally returned home to the wild after a serious head injury.
Kea are nationally endangered, with 4,000 to 7,000 left around the country. While they're usually very engaging creatures this kea took a while to get back on its feet.
Samson the kea has spent the past nine months recovering from a concussion he suffered during a bird survey in the Stuart Mountains in Fiordland in January.
"He did quite a bit of a star gazing. He would just sort of stick his head up and gaze out to space,” said Chrissy Becker-Fifield from the Kiwi Birdlife Park.
As part of the survey, wildlife rangers capture and band kea and take blood samples to check their wellbeing and test for lead poisoning.
Samson was caught but unfortunately landed badly on rocks. He then became dopey and was very confused.
“It was a bit of an unfortunate incident when Samson did get knocked on the head,” said Corey Mosen of the Kea Conservation Trust.
“He didn't look good at the time. But now he's looking really alert and looking really good.”
After initial treatment at Dunedin Wildlife Hospital, Samson recuperated at the Kiwi Birdlife Park in Queenstown. Described as a very clever and spirited bird, it didn't take long for him to win over the park's keepers.
"Now he's just getting into everything, all of the toys that we give him,” said Ms Becker-Fifield.
“Anything with food inside he's really interactive with it."
Now Samson’s back to his cheeky self, even grabbing a couple quick bites at his last veterinarian check.
"The fact that he bit me and put quite a good fight today shows that he'll be able to look after himself quite well in the wild,” said Ms Becker-Fifield.
Samson has been fitted with a transmitter so the Kea Conservation Trust can keep an eye on him and locate him for health checks.
“The transmitter will let us know if he survives after his release,” said Mr Mosen.
“Once the transmitter stops moving it will change pulse and that will indicate that the transmitter has either fallen off or he's died."
However, staff at the Kea Conservation Trust and the Kiwi Birdlife Park are confident Samson's ready to re-establish himself with his flock, and pair up for the crucial breeding season for this endangered species.
“The Stuart Mountains where Samson is going we've got a couple of other kea with transmitters that we're going to be nest monitoring as well,” said Mr Mosen.
After a long recovery, the clever and cheeky bird is finally back home.