Tuesday’s return of this wood pigeon to the wild was the perfect tribute to long-time Queenstown bird lover Dick Wilson, who died last week.
Wilson, 82, founded the Kiwi Birdlife Park on Brecon Street with wife Noeleen in 1986.
The park has a special rehabilitation unit for sick and injured birds like this female adult wood pigeon, brought in by a member of the public last November.
With no visible injuries apart from a few lost tail feathers preventing her from flying, the bird was nursed back to health by staff before being released in Queenstown Gardens.
“Wood pigeons are locally-common and they’re very important to the forest eco-system because they’re seed dispersers which helps regenerate forests which are suffering because of possums,” wildlife keeper Bridget Baynes says.
The bird’s first flight went without a hitch.
“This is continuing Dick’s legacy. He was passionate about the park right to the end,” Baynes says.
“It’s fitting that this release is at the same time we are celebrating his life.”