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Kiwis to help search for rare birds

News release birdwatchers – 1
September 16, 2005

Kiwis to help search for rare birds

Birdwatchers are flocking to Norfolk Island this November to help search for some of the world’s rarest birds.

The sub-tropical South Pacific island is running its biggest ever survey of feathered fauna including a search for the possibly-extinct white-breasted white-eye.

The endangered endemic bird was last spotted two years ago and has never been photographed. Survey organisers describe it as the ‘holy grail’ of the November study which will determine whether or not the bird is extinct.

Another of the endangered local species is the Norfolk boobook owl, which in 1987 was down to just one lonely female named Miamiti – the name of Bounty mutineer Fletcher Christian’s Tahitian lover. Miamiti was successfully bred in 1987 with a closely related NZ male called Tintoela – a Norfolk word for sweetheart. The family of Norfolk owls now numbers 40.

For the first time, discounted holiday packages at less than $900 are being released to lure volunteer birdwatchers and partners to Norfolk Island for the survey between November 27 and December 2, 2005.

Only eight remain of the 15 endemic bird species present at the time of European settlement of Norfolk Island in 1788. They include the colourful Norfolk Island green parrot, which has rebounded in numbers since 1983 when only 16 were alive.

Conservation programmes have helped maintain Norfolk Island as a bird lovers’ paradise. Although smaller than most mainland suburbs, Norfolk Island is without any predators.

The island’s 40 square kilometres of bush, rocks and pastures are home to more than 115 local and migratory bird species. Tens of thousands of birds can be readily seen near Norfolk’s pine-lined cliffs, national park, offshore rock stacks and on surrounding islets with rookeries easily accessible to visitors.

Echoing through the pines between November and May are the sounds of thousands of wedge-tailed shearwaters or ghost birds as they are locally known because of their eerie call.

Spring also brings to Norfolk the ‘bird of providence’, a large seabird named after its role in saving the former convict settlement from starvation after the sinking of the supply ship, Sirius, nearby in 1790. Hunting parties killed more than 170,000 of the birds in their burrows in just four months, almost eating the species into extinction.

The November survey will be the first time Norfolk’s birds have been systematically counted since Birds Australia’s study on the island in 1978. The Norfolk Island Flora and Fauna Society will coordinate the new survey with assistance from Birds Australia, the Birds Observers Club of Australia and the Ornithological Society of New Zealand.

Around 95 minutes ‘as the crow flies’ from Auckland, Norfolk Island has spectacular coastal scenery, pristine beaches, a coral lagoon, colourful history, fine dining, stylish bars, boutique accommodation, tax-free shopping and new adventure activities and eco experiences.

Seven-night deals are available from $879 per person from Auckland, Wellington or Christchurch and include return flights, airfare taxes, accommodation, car hire and entry to the island’s ‘Walk in the Wild’ eco attraction. Conditions apply.

For more information on specially discounted holiday packages contact Lee at The Travel Centre or on our freecall number 0800 008810. For general information on Norfolk, visit


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