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Kiwi Call Counts Looking Good

22 August 2000


Kiwi Call Counts Looking Good


Promising results have come out of this year’s kiwi monitoring season with preliminary figures showing call counts to be up by an average of 10 percent on last year.

Northland advisory scientist Ray Pierce said there had been the usual mix of some sites recording decreased counts and others increases, but overall the results were encouraging.

Kiwi call monitoring was carried out at 27 sites around Northland during May and June of this year. Twenty-three of these sites have been monitored annually since 1995, while others have been added in subsequent years.

The monitoring forms part of the Bank of New Zealand-sponsored Kiwi Recovery Programme that has been running in Northland since 1992

The data were collected by people spending the first two hours after dark sitting at specified sites and recording all kiwi heard during this period. Dr Pierce said much of the survey work was carried out by volunteers and he appreciated the efforts of people who had given up the warmth of their homes for the cold sometimes wet, hillsides around Northland that have been selected as listening sites.

“Without their efforts the job of collecting data would be made that much more difficult and we would like to acknowledge the commitment of all these people to the job,” Dr Pierce said.

Dr Pierce said the monitoring results were used to determine whether kiwi were present at representative sites around Northland and to work out trends in call counts and therefore populations over time.

Dr Pierce said studies of radio-tagged birds have indicated a direct correlation between call counts and numbers of birds present, and while not always infallible, was a good indication of numbers.

He said the important trends are those apparent over several years with the sites providing very useful information about kiwi population trends. On average, Northland kiwi counts have declined at a rate of about 5% per year since 1995.

Some areas have experienced steep declines - call counts at Bay of Islands listening sites and Western Northland sites have declined at an average of 7% and 9% per annum respectively. Southern sites (Whangarei area) have declined at only 2% per year, while the Northern (Kaitaia-Puketi) sites have actually increased by an average of 10% per annum.

Call count trends are now being analysed at each monitoring site in relation to type and intensity of management that has gone on there in the past. A preliminary analysis indicates that combinations of direct predator control and advocacy give rise to increased or stabile kiwi populations.

Dr Pierce said the public had a major role in ensuring the ongoing survival of kiwi Northland.

“There are a number of things that members of the public can do to safeguard the future for kiwi including keeping dogs under control and out of bush and forest areas where kiwi live, and also by undertaking pest and predator control on their land,” he said.

Meanwhile kiwi sanctuary funding will be used to set up more effective protection for kiwi in the Bream Head area and the Purua-Motatau area. Combinations of predator control, operation nest egg releases of young kiwi and monitoring will all be used to ensure kiwi recovery at these sites.

These sanctuaries are complemented by community initiatives being undertaken by the Nook community and by Ngati Hine.

“Community support is vital to the success of these programmes,” Dr Pierce said.

For more information please contact Ray Pierce on (09) 4380299

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