endangered duck

By David Aspinall

We know ducks love bread, but this endangered duck must have thought it was getting some TOES-t when it started nibbling on a woman’s foot.

While Natalie relaxed on her friend’s deck on Aotea Island, New Zealand, on February 7, an amiable brown teal duck – named Dmitri by the house owners after his frequent visits – approached her.

As she was sat barefoot, the endangered bird – of which there are only 1000 adults left in the wild – began to nibble at her toenails.

Despite showing a fleeting interest in Natalie’s phone, the feathered visitor turned its attention back towards her feet and chomping away.

David, Natalie’s son, said: “Mum fell in love with Dmitri as he was so cute and so funny.

“He came and went the whole week she was at the house.


“It’s been really dry so he was around looking for food.

“At one point, he jumped up on her chest but mainly he just hung out with her and her feet a lot.

“She wasn’t particularly fond of ducks prior to meeting Dmitri, but she loves our native New Zealand birds.

Brown teal ducks – known as Pateke in Maori – are considered endangered according to Birdlife International.

Dmitri has been visiting Natalie’s friends for a number of years and often brings his female partner along.

David said: “They know Dmitri really well and he even tries to get inside the house.

“Mum did say said ‘where’s your husband’ in the video but she meant to say wife.

“She also saw other Patekes on the beach right where the waves break, sifting through sand and sea water for food.

“Both me and mum would love to see the population of Patekes grow, which is why I shared the video to raise awareness.”