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The Great Kererū Count is off to a flying start

The Great Kererū Count is off to a flying start, with nearly double the number of observations made during the first five days compared to last year.

“Despite the awful weather, New Zealanders have managed to get out and count over 10,000 kererū in the first 5 days” explained Kimberley Collins from Forest & Bird. “Our biggest sighting so far was from a farm in Southland’s Hokonui Hills, where someone recorded seeing 52 birds!”

A total of 5088 observations were recorded over the first five days, compared with 2,986 observations over the same period in 2014.

New Zealanders have just three days left to participate in the Great Kererū Count, which ends at midnight on Sunday the 27th of September.

“We’re hoping to see even more observations come in over the weekend. When you actually take the time to stop and look, it’s amazing what you notice. But knowing where kererū aren’t found is just as important. That’s why we’re encouraging people to do timed observations in their local gardens, parks or forests and report the number of birds they see, even if it is zero.”

Conservationists will use data collected from this nationwide citizen science project to build a comprehensive picture of where kererū are found and where they are missing.

Stephen Hartley, a Senior Lecturer in Ecology from Victoria University of Wellington explains: “This year’s data will help us understand the distribution patterns of kererū across the country, how large are their congregations, what they are feeding on and what sort of habitats people are seeing them in.”

“We’ll need a few more years of data before we can say whether they are becoming rarer or more common, but for now we can start to identify kererū hotspots and coldspots.“

Kererū (Hemiphaga novaeseelandiae) are known as the “gardeners of the skies” as they play a crucial role in dispersing the large fruit of our native trees such as tawa, taraire and matai. No other bird is large enough to fulfil this function, making the species essential for forest regeneration.

The Great Kererū Count is a partnership between Forest & Bird and WWF-New Zealand. It is supported by Kiwi Conservation Club (KCC), Kererū Discovery, Wellington City Council, Victoria University of Wellington, Wildlands Consultants and NatureWatch NZ.


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