Have you met this handsome devil yet? Check out my blog post on the Auckland Museum site to learn more about one of our rarest wading birds, the kakī (black stilt).
The human housing crisis in Aotearoa New Zealand is in full swing. It has been for some time. It isn't doing much for the fostering of a fair society, with equal distribution of wealth (we humans are a greedy bunch, don't get me started!)
But let us spare a thought for the many native species evicted from their homes by the multitudes of invasive species which have been brought to our shores. Some of our native birds, like the kōtare (sacred kingfisher), make their nests inside tree hollows, and have to contend with both invasive mammals (e.g. brushtail possums, rats) and invasive birds (e.g. common myna) taking control of these hollows. It's like playing monopoly when someone else has bought up all the streets. Not only is it super hard to find a new home, existing homes may fall victim to violent overlords. Invasive mammals will seek out nests in hollows and eat the resident eggs, chicks, and often the adults too. They may even claim the hollow as their new den site - a penthouse apartment with forest views.
But it's not just the invasive mammals - common mynas are one of the worst invasive bird species in the world. They frequently toss other birds' eggs and chicks out of the nest. Why? Because they nest in hollows too. Sometimes mynas find that it is too much work to clean out the stuff from the previous owners – they have been known to build their new nest straight on top of an existing nest, smothering any eggs or chicks within. The reality facing our native species is a brutal one.
No one likes playing monopoly when they are losing. So what can be done? We must utilise every tool in our arsenal, mobilise every kiwi, young and old. We must fight these invasive predators wherever we find them - on the beaches, in the forests, in our backyards, at the marae, around the farm, at Jimmy's pub down the road. Visit the Predator Free NZ website and check out what you can do in your patch.
Time to rid ourselves of the violent overlords, and give the power back to our manu.
Among the many New Zealand conservation tragedies of 2015, there is one that stands out for me – the shooting of four takahē (Porphyrio hochstetteri; critically endangered) by members of the local Deerstalkers Association undertaking an authorized cull of pūkeko (Porphyrio porphyrio) on Motutapu Island in the Hauraki Gulf. It has been the source of much outrage and disgust, particularly in its being wholly avoidable. It seems impossible that takahē could have been in the line of fire, given that the hunters were instructed to shoot only pūkeko in flight… and takahē cannot fly…
While we wait to see if there will be any consequences for the buffoons who can’t follow instructions, I have contemplated this tragedy, seeking an explanation that is more fathomable. An explanation that stands to reason when one considers that the hunters were fully informed of takahē presence on the island and supposedly only shooting birds on the wing.
Re-posted from https://aucklandecology.com/2016/01/14/takahe-folly/
outside the nest
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