Monday, June 5

‘I thought I was imagining things’: New Zealand readers on close encounters with city birds | new zealand

Urban forests are attracting native birds back to New Zealand’s cities, helping residents foster a deeper connection with their feathery friends, and develop a greater interest in their protection.

New research published in the Journal of Animal Ecology found that restoring native forest in cities does indeed bring back native birds, while a Wellington council report in April 2021 found that Zealandia – a 225 hectare urban eco-sanctuary 10 minutes from the city center – was “having a measurable ‘halo’ effect on native forest bird communities throughout the city”.

But Wellington isn’t the only urban center to notice a boost in birds – New Zealand’s Guardian readers shared their observations* from across the country.

Here are some of our favourites:

“Here in Ōtautahi Christchurch, the bird life has increased enormously due to the residential red zone. Over 1,500 acres of land here has got on with the business of pretty much re-wilding itself in the decade since the earthquakes. We are also fortunate to have Hagley Park, a 400 acre park in the center of the city.

There has definitely been an increase in piwakawaka. I have also noticed more kārearea (our native falcon), tauhou (waxeyes) and kererū. The cheeky chittering piwakawaka is one of my favorites. They are fearless of humans and dogs, flitting in and out wherever insects are disturbed for them to catch. Walking in the red zone they will follow us, mostly in pairs.

A New Zealand kererū or wood pigeon. Readers have spotted increased numbers in Christchurch’s red zone. Photograph: Steve Clancy Photography/Getty Images

I try to make safe feeding spaces and use cat deterrents such as lemon peel. With building intensification in the suburbs of our city, I have observed many more cats around. Recently we were away for a week, since then the bird life in our back yard has gone. According to some friends, cats can take over when no people are around and the birds are all frightened off.”
Gina Payne, Otautahi / Christchurch

Also Read  Eugenio Derbez no podrá asistir a los premios Oscar 2022 a pesar de nominación por ‘CODA’

“I definitely feel there have been more birdies around in the past few years, which considering I live smack dab in the city I thought I was imagining things. My partner has sat bolt upright in the early hours of the morning swearing he’s hearing a gray warbler when we would NEVER get these guys around here. Now it’s happening so frequently its a bit of a non event, which is saying a lot!

It’s no longer remarkable to have up close encounters with formerly rare birds, which makes it harder to tell if things are improving or plateauing somewhat.

We think about bird life when considering planting new trees. There’s growing appreciation of the risks of feeding wild birds the wrong thing or even too much of the right thing, so providing them with a good mix of native plants seems the best way.”
Pochi Velasquez, Otautahi / Christchurch

“[There has been] a phenomenal increase in native birds since the arrival of Zealandia. Kākā stomping round the deck rail, not even leaving when we go on to the deck; kākā sitting on the rim of the outdoor spa pool eyeing up my soaking husband’s pomegranate juice glass (good for his prostate from him) and eventually tipping down to insert its beak into the juice. Twice. And then he drank it – my husband, that is.

Rat trapping is active in Wellington, with local coordination and reporting by volunteers. Many many people volunteer for Zealandia in their spare time – it’s hard to get volunteers for other charitable activities!”
Frances Blyth, Pōneke / Wellington

Also Read  A video shows the collection of bodies in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol

“We live in a village in Rangitikei and our garden is full of birds – tūī, kererū, pīwakawaka, bellbirds, and the occasional kingfisher [kōtare]. We often get kahu drifting overhead.

A kaka at Zealandia eco-sanctuary in Wellington.
A kaka at Zealandia eco-sanctuary in Wellington. Photograph: Xinhua/REX/Shutterstock

In mid-summer we have a lot of old plum trees that get laden with fruit. The kererū came in groups of three or four, scoffing the fruit from the tops to the bottom. We have a jack russell who gets very excited about the prospects for dinner when a big fat kererū lands on an impossibly small twig just above her reach, fills up on fruit, gets pissed and flops off to another crash-landing among some more fruit- laden branches.”
Andy Maciver, Turakina, Rangitikei

“I live on Waiheke Island, 35 mins from Auckland city by ferry. It has a high population density, with the population increasing year on year, putting greater strain on the natural environment. However, forest regeneration and pest eradication have a high level of local support. For this reason bird life… has increased dramatically over the past years. Te Korowai o Waiheke is a scheme to make Waiheke the world’s first predator-free urban island. The first phase included ridding the island of European introduced mustelids, with the second phase being various rat eradication trails currently taking place. The removal of cats (both domestic and feral) from the island remains unspoken, but this too would need to take place to be truly predator free …

Male stitchbird (Notiomystis cincta), also known by its Māori name Hihi, on Tiritiri Matangi Island.
The stitchbird, also known by its Māori name hihi, has been a success story at Zealandia. Photograph: Dark Horse/Alamy

We have been privileged to have a pāteke regularly visit our garden. This native duck numbers less than 2,500, and is indeed rarer than a kiwi. Captive breeding has helped numbers increase, but as this guy is untagged, it means he is wild born and has relocated himself to the island. Another wonderful sign that predator control is working. He has an incredible character, extremely territorial – despite being half the size he’ll run full speed across the garden to chase off any contender.”
Anonymous, Waiheke Island, Tamaki Makaurau / Auckland

Also Read  Los pequeños transportistas paran desde hoy lunes ante una situación de quiebra por los precios

“The Orokonui eco-sanctuary near Dunedin has provided a haven for birds looking for a predator safe breeding area for the birds to expand across the city. I regularly see and hear bell birds, you [and] kererū.

Just at the top of my steps, the tops of my tree lucerne are at eye level, and it’s not unusual to have a couple of kererū contentedly feeding less than a meter to my front. I’ll often look up and see passers by also enjoying the sight.”
Larry White, Wakari, Otepoti/Dunedin

*Edited for length and clarity.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *