Greater Wellington celebrates biodiversity champions behind Bird of the Year
Greater Wellington councillors are singing the same tune, announcing their top five species for Bird of the Year 2020; kākā, tūturiwhatu (banded dotterel), kererū, tīeke (North Island saddleback) and korimako (bellbird).
The Wellington region is home to many unique native species, but there is something to be said for these birds who have incredible resilience and are growing in abundance, says Greater Wellington councillor Ros Connelly.
“This year we decided to do something a little different by selecting five birds, rather than the one, we want to share what’s so special about these species and encourage the public to vote for these five birds.
“We also wanted to take this opportunity to say thank you and ka pai to all those who work hard for our biodiversity. It’s often easy to focus on all that needs to be done, but it’s equally important to take a moment to acknowledge the successes to date,” adds Cr Connelly.
The kākā flies as the councillors first choice, closely followed by tūturiwhatu (banded dotterel), kererū, tīeke (North Island saddleback) and finally korimako (bellbird).
Greater Wellington has been monitoring birds in rivers, lakes and forest in the Wellington region for ten years. This information is really important to understanding the effectiveness of our work which is reflected in species numbers and heard through happy birdsong in the region, says Philippa Crisp, Greater Wellington’s team leader for land, ecology and climate.
“Kākā are mostly known for the large reddy-brown bodies and lively personalities, but few people actually know they’re also a success story – although endangered, they are still frequently spotted or heard within central Wellington.
“Our results show that their numbers have nearly tripled since monitoring began in 2011. And, they are continuing to extend their range into more northern suburbs such as Johnsonville and more eastern suburbs like Miramar.
“We’ve found that there are around 580 tūturiwhatu present in our region, with the majority nesting on our Wairarapa rivers. At Baring Head, volunteers have substantially reduced predator numbers to aid the breeding success of these birds.
“To add to this, kererū numbers counted by citizen scientists this year soared to a massive 5619, which is around 26 percent of the national count. And tīeke are spilling out of Zealandia, with their growing numbers in the forested reserves just outside the sanctuary largely due to predator control being undertaken by volunteers.”
“Lastly, but not least korimako are very sparsely distributed across Wellington city, but they are more common in our large forests (Akatarawa, Tararuas and Remutakas), as well as in the eastern Wairarapa – these habitats are testament to ongoing conservation work that makes these safe places to live.”