The TikTok clip, which has racked up 22 million views, shows Taylor Mechen’s quick reflexes while stopping for a snack on his way home from a night out.
But he has faced criticism from conservationists for touching the bird.
“Tarapunga are protected under the Wildlife Act, meaning it is illegal to disturb, harass or kill them. Those that do can face fines or imprisonment,” Annie Wallace, a representative of the Department of Conservation told the Otago Daily Times.
“It is stressful for the animal whenever someone catches and holds our native birds like this.”
The video shows Mechan being surrounded by hungry seagulls in Dunedin while trying to enjoy his fries.
He is seen drunkenly bellowing Vanessa Carlton’s classic 2001 tune A Thousand Miles, with the lyrics changed to reflect the situation, before grabbing one of the birds.
Mechan has since apologised for his actions, explaining his reasoning in a follow-up video.
“I wasn’t encouraging them closer obviously, as I’m scared of them,” he said addressing the negative comments.
“I wasn’t feeding them, I didn’t hurt it, and I didn’t even mean to have an encounter with them.”