Great Kererū Count 2019
Kererū continue to win the hearts of New Zealanders, voted as last year's Bird of the Year, and now about to be counted by thousands of people as part of the Great Kererū Count.
This year's 10-day annual count runs from Friday 20 September until Sunday 29 September. Joining in is easy on the Great Kererū Count website www.greatkererucount.nz
The Great Kererū Count is NZ's biggest citizen science project. It is all about New Zealand working together to learn about and care for kererū.
Dr Stephen Hartley, Director of the Centre for Biodiversity & Restoration Ecology at Victoria University of Wellington, is encouraging everyone across New Zealand to take part in this year's Great Kererū Count.
"From Friday 20 September until Sunday 29 September, everyone in New Zealand can get involved with the Great Kererū Count. Whether you see any kererū or not, sharing observations will help build up a clear picture of where kererū live, how many kererū there are or aren't, what they are feeding on, and most importantly how best to protect them.
2019 is the sixth year of this citizen science project, and we are aiming for eight years of data to help us understand how best to promote healthy and abundant populations of kererū, which in turn will benefit the natural regeneration processes of native forests."
Tony Stoddard of Kererū Discovery, who coordinates the Count says, "Each year the number of people taking part grows, proving just how much New Zealanders love kererū."
According to Stoddard, this year will be a particularly important one for counting kererū. New Zealand's mega-mast year has been well reported.
"Rats and stoat numbers are increasing to plague proportions in some places which is devastating for kererū.
Kererū are one of our few native species that lay just a single egg, which sits precariously on an open nest platform. While a fully grown adult kererū has the wing power to protect itself from predators, eggs and chicks are very vulnerable” says Stoddard.
“We are so grateful for the support from everyone taking part in this important project. Getting a better understanding of the impact of pests, pest control, and the importance of food sources for our much loved kererū is in the interest of all New Zealanders. I would like to encourage everyone to get out and have a go – let’s make Kererū count!”
The Great Kererū Count is a collaborative project lead by Urban Wildlife Trust & Kererū Discovery together with partners Wellington City Council, Dunedin City Council, Nelson City Council and Victoria University of Wellington.
The Great Kererū Count
Great Kererū Count observations can be made using the greatkererucount.nz Quick Observation page (no log-in required) or using the iNaturalist app for Android and iPhones. The app is available to download free from www.greatkererucount.nz.
In 2017 15,459 kererū were counted by around 6,946 participants. In 2018 18,981 kererū were counted by around 8,788 participants.
It is still too early to make any definitive statements about findings from the Great Kererū Count, but a few emerging trends are:
• People are generally feeling kererū are becoming more abundant - in 2018, almost seven times as many people felt that kererū were becoming more abundant compared to the number who felt they were becoming less abundant. This varies depending on which region of NZ you are in, for example, Nelson, Tasman, and Marlborough region perceived a decline in 2016, Wellington region had a strong perception of an increase in 2018. Most regions reported moderate increases in all four years.
• Even though more people are making observations in urban areas, the average number of kererū recorded per person continues to be higher in rural areas than in urban areas.
• Kōwhai continues to be observed as the most regularly used food source for kererū.
Kererū are also known as kūkū / kūkupa/ kokopa / New Zealand pigeon (Hemiphaga novaeseelandiae) and the parea / Chatham Islands pigeon (Hemiphaga chathamensis).
Kererū play a crucial role in dispersing seeds of large native trees like tawa, taraire, and miro.
They are the only bird left in New Zealand that can distribute these large seeds vast distances and help keep native forests growing.
Kererū are protected birds and endemic to New Zealand. Kererū numbers today remain much lower than the flocks reported from 50-100 years ago.
The main threat to kererū is predation by introduced mammalian predators, particularly feral cats, possums, stoats, and rats. Other threats include collisions with man-made objects such as fast-moving vehicles, overhead power, and telephone wires, fences and windows, and illegal hunting of kererū.
Kererū photos for use.
High-resolution photos are available to download and use for media from: https://www.flickr.com/photos/60164380@N03/albums/72157647281732710