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Kaka and Bellbird numbers Increasing out at the Heads!

Media Release 20th February 2014

Kaka and Bellbird numbers Increasing out at the Heads!

By Ilse Corkery, NorthTec Tutor


Kaka numbers are declining nationally, but in Whangarei the prevalence of kaka is increasing!

Kaka is classified as a nationally vulnerable species by the Department of Conservation, so this trend is significant. It is largely thanks to the efforts of community restoration projects in the Whangarei Heads Landcare Forum, such as the Bream Head Conservation Trust and Papakarahi Landcare Group.

Kaka nest in tree cavities, with the female required to stay on the nest, incubate the egg and feed the chick for at least 90 days. These birds are therefore particularly vulnerable to predators. Stoats are the main cause of death of nesting adult females, nestlings and fledglings, but possums also prey upon nesting kaka.

With the trapping efforts of local residents, the numbers of pest species are being kept in check - which is very good news for the kaka! Often heard before they are seen, these cheeky birds are highly intelligent and seem to be adapting very well to a changing urban landscape.

Numbers have also increased recently in Wellington, however down in the windy city, it’s not all good news. In the past year there has been a spate of lead poisoning deaths amongst kaka. This is likely caused by the birds’ inquisitive nature and the fact that lead is apparently tasty to parrots! They chew on lead nails and flashings that are fixtures of some houses. Families in the Whangarei Heads region should therefore be wary of feeding and befriending kaka if they are unsure whether their roof fixtures are lead-based.

After a long absence from the Auckland and Northland region, bellbirds, possibly one of New Zealand’s most melodious songbirds, are also starting to increase around Whangarei. Although these songsters are still fairly widespread in the South Island, pests such as stoats and rats typically keep their numbers low.

The good news is that pest control in bush reserves around Whangarei has allowed residents to once again wake up to the famous dawn chorus of bellbirds. These birds are highly territorial and will return to the same nest sites year after year, so planting flax or native fuchsia in your garden may entice a pair to set up camp and become familiar friends!

Hopefully the good work of these community groups will continue long into the future and serve to inspire many future conservationists!


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