Animal Kingdom

Six Lessons About Love From Nigel the Lonely Gannet

Reflecting on Nigel, the bird who spent four years wooing a concrete block.
February 2, 2018, 4:40am

Yesterday the world was rocked by the tale of Nigel, a gannet who, by chance, found himself on New Zealand’s remote Mana Island, lured by the shiny bodies of 80 concrete gannets placed there to attract real gannets. Nigel swiftly became enamoured with one of these concrete decoys, and deployed all his efforts over a four year period to wooing her. In an tragic twist, two days ago Nigel was found dead inside the nest he painstakingly built for her.


“Lonely gannet found dead beside his concrete love,” the headlines read. “Nigel the gannet died as he lived, alone on the cliffs of Mana Island, surrounded by fake birds.” Has any animal ever better encompassed what it is to live and love in 2018?

Nigel and his concrete love. Image: Friends of Mana Island

I’m still reeling from the tragedy of the spy monkey funeral, but still, there is a treasure-trove of wisdom to be gained from Nigel and the legacy he leaves behind.

So behold: Six Lessons On Love We Can Learn from Nigel the Lonely Gannet.

Love is patient, love is blind
After arriving on the island, we’re told Nigel fell in love with the concrete decoy and proceeded to court her for four years. Not only did he remain - or so we're told - loyal over this period, he was so devoted that he built a nest out of seaweed and sticks to woo her. Have we not all fallen victim to rose-tinted glasses? Believing that we, and we alone, see the beloved for who they really are and quite simply nobody else gets it? Nigel knew.

No matter how hard you try, you just can’t change people
I have watched many a friend waste their prime years convincing themselves that their partner wasn’t a cold-hearted shit, but simply a lost boy who needed to experience real, true love. To be honest, I think Nigel would have more luck with his concrete love sprouting feathers. At some point, preferably before you commit to a life and/or non-refundable vacation together it must be accepted that they are who they are, and while they may one day acquire a taste for salmon, it is unlikely they will pick up your passion for daily discussions of singularity theory.


Fuck a fake friend, where your real friends at?
One of Nigel’s greatest blunders? He surrounded himself with the wrong people. A good friend can spot a scrub from a mile away. Nigel lived on the island, surrounded by 80 fake birds. Surrounded fake friends, not one of which possessed the ability to tell it to him straight. Imagine the heartache that could've been spared if there was one man to say: sorry mate, she’s just not that into you.

Attachment theory is real, and a bitch
If you haven’t read up on attachment theory, I recommend settling in this weekend and getting ready to pore over each and every one of your childhood wounds and the ways they will continue to haunt you. I’m putting it out there that Nigel had some significant attachment issues to work through if he was happy to settle for someone who gave him NOTHING back, over the course of four years. Work on it.

You’re not destined to be alone, you may just be giving out the wrong signals
It was reported that one month before Nigel’s death, three gannets arrived at the island after a change to the sound system that was used to attract the birds. Nigel spent years in solitude, settling for faux love when all along someone just needed to flip a bloody switch on the stereo loudspeaker. If that doesn’t break your heart, you may be the concrete bird in this tale. But this also serves as a timely reminder that if you haven’t felt the warm touch of another human in a while, perhaps it’s time to change up the vibe. Switch the frequency. Adjust the sound system. Etc.

Some of the greatest love stories are tragedies
When asked to comment on the sad affair, park ranger Chris Bell said "this just feels like the wrong ending to the story, he died right at the beginning of something great" and my God truer words have never been spoken.

Nigel the Lonely Gannet may never have found real love, but are we not all Nigel, searching our island for someone to project our ego ideal onto and hoping they stick around? Your final lesson: don’t die yet. You too could be on the verge of something great.

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