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Migrating birds drop in on Auckland

7 April 2006

Migrating birds drop in on Auckland

Another bumper breeding season for Cook’s petrel on Hauturu (Little Barrier Island) has juvenile birds inadvertently crash landing around Auckland.

Bird rescue centres in Auckland have had a number of the young birds, which are fledging and leaving their burrows, handed in over the past week.

DOC seabird scientist Graeme Taylor said that the birds that crash land or get washed ashore may be attracted to the bright lights of the city and are probably just disorientated and should be released on the coast at dusk.

“These birds are going to fly directly to the north Pacific and don’t feed in the gulf before they migrate. It’s better for them to get going as soon possible so they don’t deplete their fat reserves.”

Department of Conservation advice to anyone who finds a young Cook’s petrel is to ring your local DOC office. Don’t feed the bird and keep it safe in a cool place away from direct sunlight.

For the second year running Cook’s petrel are breeding in record numbers since the operation to rid Hauturu of kiore or Pacific rats. This year 86% of eggs in the monitored area hatched with all of these chicks fledging or about to do so.

In previous years as few as five percent survived when up to 95% of chicks were killed by kiore, leaving the seabird population in a downward spiral.

DOC island biodiversity manager Richard Griffiths said the turn around for the native seabird was a direct result of the kiore operation in 2004.

“It’s one of the early positive outcomes of the operation and is evidence of the impact that kiore were having on Cook’s petrel.”

The department is presently carrying out the final intensive monitoring for kiore on Little Barrier and will know the results in the coming weeks, said Mr Griffiths.

“Now finally two years since the operation to rid the island of rats we will be able to say definitely whether the island is finally rat-free.”

Hauturu is the stronghold of Cook’s petrel in New Zealand, although a small population is present on Whenua Hou, near Stewart Island, and there are a small number on Great Barrier Island.


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