It is an unlikely partnership – the predatory New Zealand falcon and the endangered mohua – but they are thriving side by side.
The falcon, a species in gradual decline, and the mohua (yellowhead) are benefiting from a predator control programme in the Catlins River Walk area of the Catlins Forest Park in Southland.
It has not been an easy road for either species, something this reporter and photographer can appreciate after a trek to their home territory last week. Accompanied by Department of Conservation ranger Graeme Loh, the promised 1km walk turned into a four-hour hike – and there were no birds to be found.
However, just as we began the walk home, we heard a falcon’s angry chatter – protesting at strangers in its territory – and experienced its dive bombing skills first-hand.
Mr Loh said the increase in falcons in the area seemed to be the by-product of increased predator control.
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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