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In a few days it will be spring and the birds will be in full song.
But in some parts of the country it will be an extremely muted song.
In fact there are now areas known as ‘bird deserts’ where there are virtually no native birds.
We know these regions exist because birdwatchers have just spent five years in the field finding out how many birds there are, and where they live – information for the latest edition of the New Zealand Bird Atlas.
Richard Langston with a story on the plight of our birds. link
Scientific knowledge about New Zealand birdlife took a great leap forward today as the Ornithological Society of New Zealand published the Atlas of Bird Distribution in New Zealand 1999-2004.
The atlas was launched today at Government House in Wellington by the Administrator of the Government, Rt. Hon. Dame Sian Elias. Birds are some of the best natural indicators of the health of our environment – an environment we like to promote as clean and green.
President of the Ornithological Society, Professor Richard Holdaway said that the bird distribution atlas has demonstrated dramatic and rapid changes in bird distribution in all parts of the country since the 1970s. As land use has changed, so have the communities of bird species in those areas.
Examples of this included areas that have changed from exotic forest to dairying, and areas that have reverted from cleared land to native scrub. Species that did well in the first habitat have been pushed out as the land was converted. Atlas project Convenor, Christopher Robertson notes that “Green in colour we may be, but these atlas surveys continue to demonstrate that some of that greenness is both increasingly monocultural, and the battleground of territorial invaders among the avifauna. New Zealand endemics are retreating to enclaves where introduced mammalian predators increasingly threaten the food supply, productivity, and individuals of remnant species.” more
Calling all bird watchers! Your help is requested for a national Garden Bird Survey.
With a simple and fun format, anyone from seasoned bird watchers to families and school groups can take part in the survey, which has proved popular overseas. In the UK more than 400,000 people participated in last year’s survey, with a tally of eight million birds.
“Are our common bird populations increasing or decreasing? That’s the question we want to answer,” says Landcare Research scientist, Eric Spurr. more
A new family of indigenous New Zealand birds has been created after a crucial discovery aided by the curator of Auckland Museum.
Curator Dr Brian Gill and an international team of scientists have discovered that the stitchbird or “hihi” belongs to a family of its own and has no close relatives.
For years it was widely held that the stitchbird was part of the tui and bellbird family of honeyeaters.
It was given the name Notiomystis cincta when discovered in 1908, derived from Greek words meaning “southern mystery” because even then it was thought a somewhat strange little bird.
Now the mystery has been solved after the team comprising molecular biologists and museum staff from the United States, Australia and New Zealand have confirmed the stitchbird has no close relatives and is actually in a family of its own.
There were thought to be only three surviving families of endemic New Zealand birds (birds only found here): kiwi (Apterygidae), New Zealand wrens (Acanthisittidae) and New Zealand wattlebirds (Callaeidae).
The Department of Conservation is to eradicate mice on three Abel Tasman National Park islands so they can become pest-free sanctuaries for native species. DOC Motueka area manager Colin Wishart said mice were currently the only mammalian pests on Adele, Fisherman’s and Tonga islands and their removal would enhance the islands’ native vegetation and wildlife.Bird species which would benefit from the eradication of mice include kereru, grey warblers, silvereyes, fantails and bellbirds.Monitoring would take place after the operation to check for signs of mice, Mr Wishart said.
It takes two years of monitoring without sign of rodents before successful eradication can be confirmed. more