Whiteheads arrive

There are some gregarious new residents at Shakespear Regional Park!

While other birds have repopulated the area naturally since pests were removed, recent events saw the first release of native birds behind the predator-proof fence.

In July 2015, after many months of behind-the scenes work, a group of bird translocation experts and experienced volunteers caught 40 whitehead (popokatea) at neighboring Tiritiri Matangi island, and 20 birds at Tawharanui Regional Park.

whiteheads 1. The birds were caught using a system of mist nets and recorded calls played back to entice the birds. Once caught, they were kept in carefully prepared aviaries where they were monitored and regularly fed to ensure they gained weight and settled before being transported to the release site.

On the day of release, the birds were  recaptured, reweighed, placed in special transport boxes, and taken to the ferry where a brief karakia from local maori elders sent them on their way across the water. The release site was initially chosen so as to be as far away from the fence as possible. You can see (and hear) them flitting off to their new homes in this video.

Since the release, the birds have been spotted at various locations throughout the park. They are often heard before they are seen, and you can familiarize yourself with their call at NZ Birds Online.  Look out for them in small and noisy flocks in trees and shrubs on the edges of the bush, and please report any definite sightings to the park rangers.


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