New Zealand is famous for its unique and unusual birds. Unfortunately, due to the presence of introduced mammals and the pressures of habitat clearance, the diversity of species and their population sizes have reduced. Those that are flightless, or that nest on the ground, are the most vulnerable. Historically, the Wellington region would have had wild kākāpō, takahē, and even moa.
There are still many types of native birds in the Wellington region. They live in a range of different ecosystems – forests and wetlands, on the coast and out at sea.
Shore birds, like dotterels and pied stilts, nest on sandy beaches. Many of these are now threatened and have low nesting success rates because they are vulnerable to hedgehogs, mustelids, cats, dogs and vehicles and even just people walking on the sand. During their seven month long breeding season in spring and summer, it pays to keep an eye out for them.
Some birds have important roles to play in the ecosystems that they inhabit. For example, the kererū (New Zealand wood pigeon) is the only forest bird left that is big enough to eat and disperse the fruit and seeds of some of the podocarp trees. Because of this, kererū are known as keystone species, helping to maintain rimu and other heritage trees.
The work of initiatives like Zealandia and Pukaha Mount Bruce National Wildlife Centre is helping the survival of our native birds by providing safe places for them to live and by supporting their breeding. Because of conservation efforts, including the hard work of volunteers, birds like kākā and kiwi are living in natural conditions in some of our forests.
You might like to check out these other birdy projects:
For more information, or to help you identify birds that you see, check out: