Animal Friend of the Week: New Zealand’s kererū

 

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  • Species Information
  • This large and distinctively-coloured pigeon is a familiar sight to many New Zealanders. This is because the New Zealand pigeon (or kereru) has a widespread distribution through the country, being present in extensive tracts of native forest, and rural and urban habitats, including most cities. As well as allowing close approach, it often roosts conspicuously, such as on powerlines or on the tops of trees. The distinctive sound of its wing beats in flight also draws attention. Kereru also frequently feature on works of art, such as paintings and sculptures. However, even though it is widespread, like many forest birds its abundance is severely compromised by introduced mammals, particularly possums, stoats and ship rats. Only where these pests are not present (predator-free islands) or are controlled to low levels do kereru populations thrive.

Identification

Although there is some individual variation, in general the upper parts of adult kereru are blue-green, with a purple-bronze iridescence on the neck, mantle and coverts of the wings. The underparts are white with a sharp demarcation between the white and blue-green on the upper breast. The bill colouration is quite variable, from uniformly red, but often having a paler red or even orangey tip, and feet and eyes crimson. Fledglings and juveniles have duller plumage, and often the white chest is smudgy white-grey, and the demarcation between dark and white feathering is ragged and may have a narrow border of cinnamon wash over the upper white feathers.

Voice: kereru are generally silent except for occasional ‘oos’. Brief, moderate volume ‘oos’ are given when alarmed, such as a harrier flying close by, and longer, low volume ‘oooooos’, with a rising tone towards the end given as contact calls, often repeated several times.

There is no other species in New Zealand that looks similar to the New Zealand pigeon, apart from the Chatham Island pigeon, which is confined to the Chatham Islands.

Threats and conservation

Although a major issue for conservation of the kereru in the early 1900s, habitat loss probably has little impact on regional populations today. The main threat to kereru is predation by introduced mammalian predators, particularly feral cats, possums, stoats and ship rats, especially when nesting. Other mortality factors include collisions with fast moving vehicles, overhead power and telephone wires and windows, electrocution when perched on some power poles, and illegal hunting. Where pest populations are removed (offshore islands, exclusion fenced areas) or controlled to very low levels kereru populations have increased markedly

NZ Birds

 

 

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I want to showcase our animal kingdom.  It runs from Tuesday New Zealand time and is weekly.  You can join in anytime at all over the week.  You can post your furry friends (babies), wild animals, birds, insects and butterflies.  Even reptiles are welcome.

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Animal Friend of the Week: New Zealand’s Bellbird

 

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Bellbirds are the most widespread and familiar honeyeater in the South Island, and are also common over much of the North Island. Their song is a welcome sound in mainland forests that otherwise may have little native bird song. Although they have a brush-like tongue which is used to reach deeply into flowers to reach nectar bellbirds also feed on fruits and insects. In feeding on nectar they play an important ecological role in pollinating the flowers of many native trees and shrubs. Subsequently, when feeding on the fruits that result from this pollination they have a role in dispersing the seeds, and so they assist in the regeneration of the forest in at least two ways.

Identification

Bellbirds are green with a short, curved bill, slightly forked tail, and noisy whirring, fast and direct flight. Adult males are olive green, slightly paler on the underparts, with a head tinted purple; wings and tail blackish. Female are browner with narrow white-yellow stripe across the cheek from the base of the bill, and bluish gloss on top of head. Adults of both sexes have wine-red eyes. Juveniles are similar to females, but with yellowish cheek stripe, brown eyes and lacking the bluish gloss on the head.

Voice: song varies regionally but is ringing notes without grunts or wheezes. Alarm call a rapidly repeated harsh “yeng,”. The famous bell notes noted by Sir Joseph Banks in Queen Charlotte Sound on James Cook first voyage to New Zealand are only heard when many birds are present at once, mostly at dawn and dusk in places of high bellbird density with few other bird species.

NZ Birds

Animal Friend of the Week Challenge Logo-

I want to showcase our animal kingdom.  It runs from Tuesday New Zealand time and is weekly.  You can join in anytime at all over the week.  You can post your furry friends (babies), wild animals, birds, insects and butterflies.  Even reptiles are welcome.

Just use this logo and link back to this blog.

I look forward to seeing all the different animals around the world

 

Thanks for visiting.

Animal Friend of the Week: New Zealand’s kaka

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Kaka

Nestor meridionalis (Gmelin, 1788)

New Zealand status:Endemic

Conservation status:Nationally Vulnerable

Other names: bush parrot, kākā, brown parrot, kawkaw

Geographical variation: North and South Island sub-species are recognised but this is not supported by genetic data. There is a trend towards greater size from north to south

Distribution and habitat

Kaka are rare to uncommon in native forest throughout the three main islands of New Zealand except for areas adjacent to offshore island strongholds such as the Hen and Chicken Islands, Little Barrier Island, Kapiti Island, Ulva Island and Codfish Island. They are also common on Great Barrier and Mayor Islands, and have recovered at some sites where control of mammalian predators is undertaken, such as The Rotoiti Nature Recovery Programme Area in Nelson Lakes National Park and the Eglinton Valley in Fiordland National Park. Reintroduction programmes have been remarkably successful at a few sites. A large wild kaka flock is a feature at the Pukaha Mt Bruce National Wildlife Centre in the Wairarapa, and kaka are commonly seen throughout the Wellington city green belt, following their reintroduction to Zealandia / Karori Sanctuary. Kaka also visit Auckland and Hamilton cities during winter, but there are few sites there where they are regularly seen.

Population

Probably fewer than 10,000 birds. There appears to be sufficient gene flow between most populations to prevent the development of significant genetic differences between them.

Threats and conservation

Although forest clearance has destroyed all but a fraction of the kaka’s former habitat, the biggest threat to their survival is introduced mammalian predators, particularly the stoat, but also the brush-tailed possum. It is predation by these pests, particularly of nesting females, that is the reason for general rarity of kaka on the main islands compared to their forested offshore island strongholds.Kaka can coexist with rats, and possibly also with possums, but not with stoats. Kaka populations can, however, recover when stoats and other pests are controlled by trapping and or poisoning.

New Zealand Kaka

 

Animal Friend of the Week Challenge Logo-

I want to showcase our animal kingdom.  It runs from Tuesday New Zealand time and is weekly.  You can join in anytime at all over the week.  You can post your furry friends (babies), wild animals, birds, insects and butterflies.  Even reptiles are welcome.

Just use this logo and link back to this blog.

I look forward to seeing all the different animals around the world

Thanks to Aletta for taking part.

Nowathome: Animal Friend of the Week-Blue Crane

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Animal Friend of the Week: Takahē

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It is start of a new week for my animal friends challenge.  To find out more about and to download the banner check it out here.

The takahē, Notornis, or South Island takahē (Porphyrio hochstetteri), is a flightless bird indigenous to New Zealand and belonging to the rail family. It was thought to be extinct after the last four known specimens were taken in 1898. However, after a carefully planned search effort the bird was rediscovered by Geoffrey Orbell near Lake Te Anau in the Murchison Mountains, South Island, on 20 November 1948. The specific scientific name commemorates the Austrian geologistFerdinand von Hochstetter.

The takahē is the largest living member of the family Rallidae. Its overall length averages 63 cm (25 in) and its average weight is about 2.7 kg (6.0 lb) in males and 2.3 kg (5.1 lb) in females, ranging from 1.8–4.2 kg (4.0–9.3 lb).[3] The standing height is around 50 cm (20 in).[4] It is a stocky bird, with reduced wings, strong legs and a massive bill.

After long threats of extinction, takahē now find protection in Fiordland National Park (New Zealand’s largest national park). However, the species has not made a stable recovery in this habitat since they were rediscovered in 1948. In fact the takahē population was at 400 before it was reduced to 118 in 1982 due to competition with Fiordland domestic deer. Conservationists noticed the threat deer posed to takahē survival and the national park now implements deer control by hunting by helicopter.

The rediscovery of the takahē caused great public interest. The New Zealand government took immediate action by closing off a remote part of Fiordland National Park to prevent the birds from being bothered. However, at the moment of rediscovery, there were different perspectives on how the bird should be conserved. At first the Forest and Bird Society advocated for takahē to be left to work out their own “destiny”, but many worried that the takahē would be incapable of making a comeback and thus become extinct like New Zealand’s nativehuia. Interventionists then sought to relocate the takahē to “island sanctuaries” and breed them in captivity. However, no action was taken for nearly a decade due to a lack of resources and a desire to avoid conflict.

Biologists from the Department of Conservation drew on their experience with designing remote island sanctuaries to establish a safe habitat for takahē and translocate birds onto Maud Island (Malborough Sounds), Mana Island (near Wellington), Kapiti Island (Kapiti Coast), and Tiritiri Matangi Island (Hauraki Gulf). The success of these translocations has meant that the takahē’s island metapopulation appears to have reached its carrying capacity, as revealed by the increasing ratio of non-breeding to breeding adults and declines in produced offspring. This may lead to reduced population growth rates and increased rates of inbreeding over time and pose problems regarding the maintenance of genetic diversity, and thus takahē survival in the long term.

The original recovery strategies and goals set in the early 1980s, both long-term and short-term, are now well under way.

The programme to move takahē to predator-free island refuges, where the birds also receive supplementary feeding, began in 1984. Takahē can now be found on five small islands; Maud Island (Marlborough Sounds), Mana Island (off Wellington’s west coast), Kapiti Island (off Wellington’s west coast), Tiritiri Matangi Island (Hauraki Gulf) and Motutapu Island (Hauraki Gulf). The Department of Conservation also runs a captive breeding and rearing programme at the Burwood Breeding Centre near Te Anau which consists of five breeding pairs. Chicks are reared with minimal human contact, being fed and brooded through the use of puppets and models. The offspring of the captive birds are used for new island releases and to add to the wild population in the Murchison Mountains. The Department of Conservation also manages wild takahē nests to boost the birds’ recovery. Surplus eggs from wild nests are taken to the Burwood Breeding Centre.

An important management development has been the stringent control of deer in the Murchison Mountains and other takahē areas of Fiordland National Park. Following the introduction of deer hunting by helicopter, deer numbers have decreased dramatically and alpine vegetation is now recovering from years of heavy browsing. This improvement in its habitat has helped to increase takahē breeding success and survival. Current research aims to measure the impact of attacks by stoats and thus decide whether stoats are a significant problem requiring management.

One of the original long-term goals was to establish a self-sustaining population of well over 500 takahē. The population stood at 263 at the beginning of 2013. In 2015 300 Takahe remain.

Takahē

 

I look forward to seeing what you all come up with.

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Animal Friend of the Week: Brolga Crane

 

 

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At the Zoo

Wellington Zoo is home to Bruce the Brolga Crane. He lives next door to the Dingoes in Neighbours, our walkthrough Australian precinct.

Bruce is also a neighbour to the Nyala and Ostriches, and you can sometimes see him checking out what they’re up to in the African Savannah.

Did you know that Brolga Cranes do an intricate courtship dance to attract their mate? Check out the Brolga letterbox to learn the steps!

Brolga are wetland birds, and mostly eat plants and small animals. We feed Bruce fruit, pellets, seeds, mice, herrings, and occasionally mealworms.

Wellington Zoo

In the wild

IUCN: Least concern

Brolga Cranes are found in Australia and Papua New Guinea. They live in family groups, and multiple groups often join together to form large flocks.

While they are not considered endangered, they are threatened in some regions, especially in southern Australia.

The Brolga Crane is also known as Australian Crane and the native companion, and is Queensland’s official bird emblem.

Animal Friend of the Week Challenge Logo-

I want to showcase our animal kingdom.  It runs from Tuesday New Zealand time and is weekly.  You can join in anytime at all over the week.  You can post your furry friends (babies), wild animals, birds, insects and butterflies.  Even reptiles are welcome.

Just use this logo and link back to this blog.

I look forward to seeing all the different animals around the world

Thanks for visiting.

Animal Friend of the Week: New Zealand Tui

 

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Tui are boisterous, medium-sized, common and widespread bird of forest and suburbia – unless you live in Canterbury. They look black from a distance, but in good light tui have a blue, green and bronze iridescent sheen, and distinctive white throat tufts (poi). They are usually very vocal, with a complicated mix of tuneful notes interspersed with coughs, grunts and wheezes. In flight, their bodies slant with the head higher than the tail, and their noisy whirring flight is interspersed with short glides.

Distribution and habitat

Tui are widespread and locally abundant on the North, South and Stewart Islands, and their offshore islands; they are scarce only in drier, largely open, country east of the Southern Alps. Tui are present on the Kermadec and Auckland Islands, and there is a larger subspecies endemic to the Chatham Islands. Tui are absent on the Poor Knights Islands probably due to the very high density of bellbirds there competing for a limited nectar resource. Tui are found in native forest and scrub (sometimes in exotic forests), and in rural gardens, stands of flowering kowhai and gums, and in suburban parks and gardens. There is much local movement, when tui follow a seasonal succession of flowering or fruiting plants. They usually nest in native forest and scrub, but will commute more than 10 km daily to feed on rich sources of nectar.

Breeding

Eggs are laid from September to January. The nest, built by the female, is a rough bulky structure of twigs and sticks, lined with fine grasses, high in the canopy or subcanopy. The clutch is 2-4 white or pale pink eggs, marked with reddish-brown spots and blotches. Incubation and brooding is by the female only. Chicks are initially fed only by the female, but later the male helps to feed them.

Behaviour and ecology

Tui are notoriously aggressive, and will defend a flowering or fruiting tree, or a small part of a large tree, from all-comers, whether another tui or another bird species. They vigorously chase other birds away from their feeding territory with loud whirring wings. Tui have a display flight, in which they fly upwards above the canopy, and then make a noisy, near-vertical, dive back into the canopy. Tui play a very important role in the dynamics of New Zealand forests because they are one of the most common pollinators of flowering plants, and also disperse the seeds of trees with medium-sized fruits.

NZ Birds

We are now well into spring and I can see the tuis flying around in the park across the road.  Not to mention hearing them all the time.

Animal Friend of the Week Challenge Logo-

I want to showcase our animal kingdom.  It runs from Tuesday New Zealand time and is weekly.  You can join in anytime at all over the week.  You can post your furry friends (babies), wild animals, birds, insects and butterflies.  Even reptiles are welcome.

Just use this logo and link back to this blog.

I look forward to seeing all the different animals around the world

Thanks for visiting.

Animal Friend of the Week: Asian Small-Clawed Otters

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Otters are highly social animals.  They’re a tight-knit group and do almost everything together – including eating, playing, swimming, and napping in a pile in the sun or on their heated rock.

Asian Small-Clawed Otters live a fast-paced lifestyle, as they have extremely high metabolic rates to help keep their bodies warm in cold water. This means that our group at Wellington Zoo get fed six times a day.

In the wild

IUCN: Vulnerable

Asian Small-Clawed Otters are found in the freshwater rivers, swamps and wetlands of southern and southeastern Asia. Habitat loss is the biggest threat they face in the wild.

You can help protect their native habitats by purchasing sustainable timber and paper products marked with the FSC (Forestry Stewardship Council) logo.

Wellington Zoo: Otters

 

Animal Friend of the Week Challenge Logo-

I want to showcase our animal kingdom.  It runs from Tuesday New Zealand time and is weekly.  You can join in anytime at all over the week.  You can post your furry friends (babies), wild animals, birds, insects and butterflies.  Even reptiles are welcome.

Just use this logo and link back to this blog.

I look forward to seeing all the different animals around the world

Thanks for visiting.