Tiritiri Matangi – New Zealand’s Native Birds

Please consider all images as copyrighted – thank you. Contact me for use… DEClapp

New Zealand has not been spared the impact of human settlement. Most islands and archipelagos have been altered greatly by humans, agriculture, domestic animals, pets, and loss of habitat. Many island birds were ground-nesters and easy prey for people, dogs, cats, stoats,  mongooses, and changing vegetation. New Zealand has had a huge commitment to regaining some of the original nature of the islands. This work has been underway for many years and there is a new energy (and new money) in these sorts of projects right now.

Tiritiri is one of the earliest islands to have invaders removed and natural plants and animals returned; it has taken decades. The animals on NZ are basically birds; there were essentially no mammals before humans arrived. The small bats that were on the islands were very specialized to a predator-free island life and they suffered also. Here are a few of the original birds of New Zealand as they now appear on Tiritiri.

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To reach Tiritiri you catch a dedicated ferry in Auckland Harbor and start an hour plus journey to the island. There are likely to be lots of Fluttering and a few Buller’s Shearwaters along the way.
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The Tui is a bird that persisted through New Zealand’s development though it’s populations are highest on predator-free islands. The two white puffs of feathers on the threat have been mimicked by the Maori in some of their dances.
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The Variable Oystercatcher is a common shoreline bird.
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The Stitchbird is another bird that has taken refuge on the predator-free islands. All the birds on these islands are studied and monitored, hence the bands on the legs.
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THough the Bellbird wasn’t wiped out during the settlement era it does best on the few safe havens: islands like Stewart, and predator-free islands like Tiritiri and Ulva.
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the tiny little New Zealand Robin is a perching bird (a small percentage of NZ birds versus 50% in the US) of the forest. Though not widely common it is often seen in area where there are few predators.
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The Red-fronted Parakeet is one of a few parrot on the New Zealand archipelago
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the tiny Whitehead reminds me of a chickadee or verdin or bushtit. They travel in busy, oust flocks and are pretty common on the protected islands.
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The Brown Teal is a very rare duck. It can be found in small numbers in specific habitats on both islands. It is most easily seen on Tiritiri especially if there has been rain to fill the freshwater island pools.
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The Takahe is a story!! It was unseen and thought extinct for more than forty years. It was discovered in high tussock grasslands in the mountains of the very southwest corner of the South Island. Breeding programs have been successful and the Takahe is now well established on predator-free islands.
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The Kokako is an odd, wattled-bird of the North Island. It has been saved in large part due to the safety oil predator-free islands and can be seen on Tiritiri on about half the visits. It is about the size of a Blue Jay and is resident in podocarp forests. (Podocarps are somewhere in the ontheroadwithdec blog future.)

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