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N.Z. Officials Urge Hunt for ‘Angry Birds’ in Auckland Skies

N.Z. Officials Urge Hunt for ‘Angry Birds’ in Auckland Skies
A red-vented Bulbul rests on a tree. Source: Jitendra Madhav Ramchandani/Flickr via Getty Images

New Zealand officials are urging Auckland residents more familiar with “Angry Birds” on their mobile phones to try spotting the real thing in the nation’s biggest city.

A number of aggressive red-vented bulbuls are on the loose in the wider Auckland area and the Ministry for Primary Industries is asking the public to help track them down. In a press release headlined “Angry Birds Still at Large in Auckland,” the ministry warns that the species is a threat to native vegetation and birdlife and must be eradicated.

“The red-vented bulbul is aggressive to other birds and is regarded as one of the world’s most invasive bird species,” said Jaap Knegtmans, a response manager at the ministry. “While the bulbuls may appear cute, they’re anything but and urgent action is required to locate and capture them before they establish.”

The birds, originally from China and Pakistan and considered good luck in some Asian communities, may have arrived on a commercial vessel or a recreational yacht from elsewhere in the Pacific, Knegtmans said in an interview. Unobtrusive when alone, in numbers the bulbuls tend to bully other birds and compete with them for food and space, he said.

Ministry officials are working with the Auckland city council and the Department of Conservation to track and eradicate the pests using traps, nets and recorded bird calls. They want residents to help spot the birds, which have a crimson-red patch beneath their tail.

Rovio Entertainment Oy’s “Angry Birds” is the top-selling mobile phone application of all time, and is being developed into an animated 3-D film, the Finnish company said in May.

Knegtmans said he deliberately played on the name of the popular game. “It was to get a bit more media interest in the story and bring it into today’s conversation, which is what it has done,” he said.

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