Rare petrels breed again on Chatham islands, New Zealand

This video is called Chatham Island Petrel.

From BirdLife:

Predator control key to Chatham successes


In early June 2006, the first Chatham Petrel Pterodroma axillaris chick for more than a century fledged on Pitt Island, New Zealand.

Previously this Critically Endangered species, numbering fewer than 1,000 birds, was confined to Rangatira Island, a small island off Pitt Island, but efforts began in 2002 to create a second “insurance” breeding population.

Over four years, 200 chicks were transferred to the 40 ha Ellen Elizabeth Preece Conservation Covenant (Caravan Bush) predator-free enclosure on Pitt.

Four birds have returned so far, and this year a pair successfully reared a single chick.

“It’s the first time this has been achieved with Pterodroma petrels in New Zealand,” said Dave Houston, technical support officer for the Chatham Islands from New Zealand’s Department of Conservation (DOC).

“DOC staff, volunteers and Pitt Islanders are rapt.”

This video is about the Chatham Islands Taiko.

It follows hot on the heels of a record 11 Chatham Islands Taiko Pterodroma magentae fledging, thanks to sustained predator control in the Taiko’s breeding area on Chatham Island.

The world population of this Critically Endangered species now numbers between 120 and 150 individuals.

“It is the highest number of chicks to fledge since this formerly presumed extinct species was rediscovered by ornithologist David Crockett in 1978,” said Houston.

“A lot of people have put in a lot of hard work to achieve these successes.”

Although fledging of the chicks is a milestone in the recovery of both species, there is still a long way to go.

The Chatham Petrel chick is likely to return to breed when around three to five years of age, but the Taiko are unlikely to breed until six to nine years old.

The breeding cycle, year-round distribution and activity patterns of the endangered Chatham Petrel (Pterodroma axillaris): here.

More Chatham islands: here.

Cook’s petrel: here.

Chatham islands dinosaurs: here.

Dino-Era Seabird Fossils Found in New Zealand, Chatham Islands: here.

10 thoughts on “Rare petrels breed again on Chatham islands, New Zealand

  1. ‘Extinct’ seabirds captured
    5:00AM Monday December 03, 2007

    The ornithologist who helped re-discover a native seabird thought for 150 years to be extinct has shot two of them – with a net-gun.

    Brent Stephenson, who rediscovered the storm petrel, with Sav Saville, off the coast of Whitianga in January 2003, captured two of the birds with a net fired out of a custom-made gun. “It’s not every day you get to hold a seabird that for 150 years was thought to be extinct, let alone hold two,” he said.

    Altogether three of the “extinct” New Zealand storm petrels were captured in the Hauraki Gulf by Department of Conservation (DoC) staff and scientists.

    The expedition, funded jointly by DoC and a grant from National Geographic’s committee for research and exploration, was part of an effort to discover where the birds are breeding. It lives and feeds at sea, returning to land only to breed.

    If the captured birds had showed signs of breeding, they would have had tracking beacons attached before being released, Dr Stephenson said.

    None of them were breeding, so their island home is still a mystery.

    DoC officer Karen Baird said it was thought the petrels might be breeding where rodents had been eradicated, such as the Mokohinau islands in the outer Hauraki Gulf.

    “One of the theories is that the birds survived in very low numbers on an island where rats were present and once the rats were removed, the birds have been quietly building up in numbers until they began to be noticed several years ago.”

    Last year, three storm petrels were caught and fitted with transmitters, but extensive searches around islands in the Hauraki Gulf failed to reveal any of the birds on land.

    – NZPA

    Source: here.

    See also here.


  2. Nutrient sources for forest birds captured within an undisturbed petrel colony, and management implications

    David J. Hawke A , C and Richard N. Holdaway B

    A School of Applied Sciences and Allied Health, Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology, PO Box 540, Christchurch 8140, New Zealand.
    B Palaecol Research Ltd, PO Box 16-569, Christchurch 8042, New Zealand; and School of Biological Sciences and Department of Geological Sciences, University of Canterbury, Christchurch 8140, New Zealand.
    C Corresponding author. Email: hawked@cpit.ac.nz


    Where seabird breeding colonies occupy forested habitats, unusual nutrient links between marine and terrestrial ecosystems can occur. In such circumstances, the dietary characteristics of forest birds inhabiting pristine seabird colonies have rarely been investigated. In this study, carried out in a mixed-species colony of petrels (Procellariiformes), we measured the stable isotopic (δ13C, δ15N) signatures of individual feathers of New Zealand Bellbirds (Meliphagidae : Anthornis melanura melanura; n = 6) and Red-crowned Parakeets (Psittacidae : Cyanoramphus novaezelandiae novaezelandiae; n = 15). The δ15N of Parakeet feathers encompassed a wide range, from +7.1‰ to –0.9‰. From the high maximum δ15N, relative to global temperate forest foliage, we conclude that some Parakeets were feeding within the petrel colony where they were captured. However, the low minimum δ15N, relative to foliage from the petrel colony, implies that Parakeet isotopic composition could not be fully explained by potential dietary items from the petrel colony. Bellbird δ15N (range +3.4‰ to +9.6‰) was more enriched than that of Parakeets, consistent with their higher trophic level, but also consistent with a dietary intake consisting of items from both within and beyond the petrel colony. Bellbird isotopic ratios were strongly enriched in δ13C, which could be explained only by consumption of invertebrates with marine isotopic enrichment. The marine invertebrates could have been associated with breeding petrels, or have come from the littoral zone near the site of capture. The importance for both species of food sources both inside and outside of petrel colonies implies that petrel colonies offer foraging opportunities for forest birds but that the birds also use non-colony areas. Consequently, petrel colonies are integral parts of the wider terrestrial landscape which they inhabit.
    Keywords: Adams Island, Anthornis melanura, Auckland Islands, Cyanoramphus novaezelandiae, introduced mammals, Meliphagidae, New Zealand, Psittacidae, Red-crowned Parakeet, seabirds, stable isotope analysis.

    Emu 109(2) 163–169

    Submitted: 18 July 2008 Accepted: 8 December 2008 Published: 11 June 2009

    Full text DOI: 10.1071/MU08035

    © Royal Australasian Ornithologists Union 2009


  3. Rare burrowing birds’ signals picked up from the air

    KIRAN CHUG – The Dominion Post

    Last updated 05:00 04/01/2011

    Signals transmitted from burrows on the Chatham Islands have raised hopes for the survival of one of the world’s rarest seabirds.

    The Conservation Department has been searching for the Chatham Islands taiko from the sky this summer, after banding birds with transmitters which send signals from underground.

    Using new equipment on a plane flying over the remote area the birds are believed to inhabit, DOC has picked up signals from birds which have returned from sea to nest in their burrows.

    The Chatham Island taiko was thought to be extinct until its rediscovery in 1978 when two birds were caught by bird enthusiast David Crockett.

    There are now believed to be up to 140 of the critically endangered birds, but they live in rugged terrain in a tiny pocket of Chatham, the largest island within the group.

    DOC seabird scientist Graham Taylor said conditions this summer had made the track to the area almost impassable, so the annual search for nesting burrows had to be done aerially.

    In previous years, search teams have used hand-held receivers and radio masts to track birds fitted with transmitters, but this year Mr Taylor said the team used the Sky Ranger aircraft.

    The plane carries an innovative tracking system developed by the company Wildtech NZ to track kiwi in South Westland.

    While in the air it records signals sent from transmitters worn by the birds – even if they are underground.

    The plane flies a grid pattern over the area birds are believed to be in, and records the GPS data of where birds are found to be nesting.

    If conditions allow, rangers can return to the site of a signal and search for a burrow that could contain a nesting bird.

    Mr Taylor said the Sky Ranger picked up a signal from one bird on a search in November and when rangers tracked it down they found a new burrow in an area previously unoccupied by birds.

    “He wasn’t using the burrow, he was just sitting on the surface. That bird has led us to a new location.”

    Finding a new burrow had raised hopes of more breeding pairs than the 13 that produced chicks last year.

    That could have positive implications for the population, as only about half the chicks born survived once they fledged and headed out to sea, Mr Taylor said.

    Taiko chicks will fledge in April or May, and spend four years in harsh conditions, feeding on fish and squid and reaching South America before returning to breed. It is not yet known how many birds are sitting on eggs.


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