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Tītipounamu chicks hatched at ZEALANDIA

Tītipounamu chicks have hatched at ZEALANDIA, a great start for the hopeful establishment of a viable population of Aotearoa’s smallest native bird in Wellington.

Sixty tītipounamu (rifleman) were introduced to ZEALANDIA ecosanctuary following a translocation from the Wainuiomata Mainland Island in March this year, in partnership with Greater Wellington Regional Council.

“It’s very exciting that we have discovered fledglings and eggs this early in the breeding season. The titipounamu are absolutely making themselves at home in ZEALANDIA,” says Dr Danielle Shanahan, Director of ZEALANDIA’s Centre for People and Nature.

Rangers have found seven nests with incubating eggs in total, two in provided nest boxes and the rest in natural nests.

“We are especially excited that some birds are building their nests in the boxes we have provided as it will allow us to monitor them very closely,” Dr Shanahan says.

“Our follow up surveys suggest at least half the tītipounamu are settling in well in the valley. There are also a few birds that have flown just outside the sanctuary, with some sighted in Birdwood Reserve adjacent to ZEALANDIA.

“We hope they continue to breed successfully both inside and out, helped by rat and stoat control done by the community,” Dr Shanahan says.

Greater Wellington Land, Ecology and Climate team leader Philippa Crisp says it is fantastic to hear the translocated birds are breeding.

“We moved these birds from Wainuiomata Mainland Island, a Key Native Ecosystem (KNE) site, because our bird counts showed a 78 per cent increase in the number of tītipounamu in the area between 2005 and 2018.

“This KNE provides an important breeding habitat for a large range of forest bird species and due to significant pest control efforts in the area, birds such as tītipounamu are able to thrive.

“Being able to monitor the nests in ZEALANDIA will provide valuable information about how successful the translocation was in terms of establishing a breeding tītipounamu population in the sanctuary,” Philippa says.


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