The range of habitats present in Shakespear Park provides homes to many bird species. The absence of predators in the sanctuary has led to increasing numbers of kereru, tui and many ground nesting birds such as pukeko and pheasant. It is also benefiting other species and will allow the reintroduction of other birds which cannot tolerate any introduced predators. Already some birds from Tiritiri Matangi such as kakariki and bellbirds are finding the park a good place to live.

A full list of birds seen in the Sanctuary can be found here with more information about when to see what in our wildlife calendar, and a coloured chart with pictures of the more common birds is here. You can find out more about these birds at New Zealand Birds Online.

A slow walk up Waterfall Gully will reveal kereru and tui feeding on the nectar and fruit of the mature forest. Moreporks are breeding well in the valleys and are the dominant predator both of other birds and insects. The regrowth of vegetation around the forest edges provides great habitat for fantails, grey warblers and silvereyes. Chaffinches, blackbirds and thrushes are three introduced birds which have also made the forest and margins their home.

Juvenile bellbird

Bellbirds and kakariki are both breeding in the park. These are quite mobile and often seen in vegetation around the coast. Sometimes confused with kakariki is the brightly coloured eastern rosella, an introduced parakeet of similar size. Kaka are occasional visitors to the park.

Poaka, pied stilt chick (JP Mower photo)

The transformation of the Okoromai Bay wetland from pasture to wetland forest and saltmarsh has seen an increase in the number of bird species living there. The more visible birds include pukeko, mallard, shoveller and paradise shelducks, while more elusive are the brown teal, spotless crake and recently discovered banded rail. In the saltmarsh area pied stilts frequently nest and many roost at high tide. Other smaller areas of wetland, such as the valley behind the campground, are also important homes for spotless crake and banded rail. The ‘duck-pond’ at the entrance to Waterfall Gully is a good viewing place for wetland birds and swallows often feed over its open water.

Oyster catcher with chick

A range of birds occupy the coast and adjacent waters. Like those of other habitats, coastal birds of Shakespear Park suffered a range of fates due to predator invasion. Many have remained relatively common while others (NZ dotterel) became uncommon and the petrels and penguins which once nested in the park became locally extinct. However, NZ dotterel and variable oystercatcher now breed successfully around Te Haruhi and Okoromai Bays although the popularity of the park causes them some disturbance. The tidal flats of Okoromai Bay attract wading birds, kingfishers, pied stilts, and occasionally banded dotterels. Black swans are always just offshore; caspian and white-fronted terns and white-faced herons are common. Pied shags nest in pohutukawas over the cliffs and, offshore, gannets, rafts of fluttering shearwaters, and little blue penguins can sometimes be seen.

A range of birds have benefited from the open country farmland and rough areas within the sanctuary. Among these are natives such as the paradise shelduck and pukeko which enjoy pasture as much as wetland. However, most are introduced birds which don’t need our help to thrive but add to the variety of birds in the park while not greatly affecting native species.

Pheasant, California quail and brown quail have done well since predator control began, pheasants making a common sight from the road. Skylark numbers have risen and their song is commonly heard across the farmland. Yellowhammer, goldfinch and greenfinch are common and form flocks during winter often with large numbers of sparrows. Larger birds include the Australasian harrier, myna, spur-winged plover and occasional magpies. For many visitors to the park, though, the most memorable bird is also the largest – the group of peafowl living in Te Haruhi Bay.