Chatham Islands tui back on main island


From Forest & Bird in New Zealand:

Popular songbird nests on Chatham Islands mainland

New Zealand’s fifth most popular bird, the tui, has started breeding on the Chatham Islands’ main island after a successful transfer of 14 Chatham Islands tui to the main island earlier this year.

“The locals are over the moon because some of them have never seen a tui – soon they might have these songbirds gracing their gardens,” Chatham Islands resident & conservationist Liz Tuanui says.

“The last time tui were seen in any numbers on the Chatham islands’ mainland was 25 years ago, so anyone under that age is unlikely to have seen or heard tui.”

In what has been described as a world first, tui were transferred from offshore nature reserve Rangatira Island to the Chatham Islands mainland after a grant was given to the Chatham Island Taiko Trust by Forest & Bird’s international partner, Birdlife International.

The Chatham Islands archipelago holds almost 20 per cent of New Zealand’s threatened species and 160 endemic species of insects. Most of these species, however, live on three inaccessible predator-free islands.

Research conducted in the late 1990s estimated the adult Chatham Islands tui population to be about 350 birds.

Liz and husband Bruce started planting areas of their farmland 16 years ago, fuelled by a desire to create a refuge for the Chatham Islands’ threatened bird. More recently, they began intensive pest control.

Pest control is also done in the nearby Tuku Nature Reserve by the Department of Conservation.

Their property is now “dripping with flowers and fruit”, which nectar-eating birds like tui need to breed successfully.

The new immigrants were last seen on the mainland 25 years ago, and have been welcomed with open arms by the locals. Many have even started planting their gardens with fruity and flowery delights to help aid the baby-making process.

“It would be wonderful to have them back in the kind of numbers that people like my mother took for granted. Our Moriori karapuna were known to wake early and sing in high piping voices with the dawn chorus of the birds,” Shirley King from the Moriori Trust says.

Translocation Co-ordinator Mike Bell says that community-led projects like this help to empower people to get involved in conservation.

“The problem with conservation in the Chatham islands is that you’re protecting things you can’t see,” Mike Bell says. “Projects like this require locals to come on board to help with planting and pest control. Since the transfer, I’ve had locals come up to me, and ask me: ‘What can I do to attract tui? What can I plant?’ It’s fantastic.”

Birdlife International recently gave the Chatham Island Taiko Trust funding to transfer another feathery immigrant – the Chatham Islands tomtit – to one of Bruce and Liz’s covenants.

And if everything goes to plan and approval is given, 40 of these endangered birds will be heading for the Chatham Islands mainland next February.

“The Taiko Trust has done such a good job of preserving our unique taonga ,” Deborah Goomes, from Ngati Mutunga O Wharekauri Iwi Trust, says.

The Chatham Island Taiko Trust is a community-based conservation group established more than 10 years ago to help protect the endangered taiko (magenta petrel) and other indigenous wildlife on the Chathams. The group aims to help islanders conserve habitats and birdlife on their properties.


* This transfer was the first time tui have been translocated, in the Chathams or in New Zealand.
* Research by Peter Dilks from the late 1990s estimated the adult tui population on those islands at about 350 birds.
* Chatham Islands tui are one-third bigger than tui found on New Zealand’s mainland.
* Tui were voted the fifth most popular bird in Forest & Bird’s 2009 online poll.
* Breeding of Chatham Islands tui is triggered by flax flowering. In each clutch, 2-4 eggs are laid, and 2-3 broods can be raised in a good year.
* Chatham islands tui were last seen on the mainland in the early 1980s.

Publication Date: October 20, 2009

See also here.

Chatham Islands: Rare birds: here.

A fundamental prediction of life-history theory is that individuals should reduce their reproductive investment per breeding attempt when the risk of nest predation is high. We tested this trade-off in two species of exotic Turdus thrushes in New Zealand (Common Blackbird (T. merula) and Song Thrush (T. philomelos)): here.

Mottled petrel: here.

The largest of the genus, the Antipodes Island parakeet was described as far back as 1831 from a specimen that had been taken to England alive and placed in the Zoological Society’s gardens. After it died, the skin was preserved in the British Museum. According to Oliver, it was this bird which Edward Lear portrayed in his famous folio monograph published in 1832, Illustrations of the Family of Psittacidae, or Parrots: the greater part of them species hitherto unfigured: here.

Pakaha, the fluttering shearwater: here.

Westland petrel: here.

The New Zealand storm petrel, thought to be extinct for more than 150 years, has been seen in the Hauraki Gulf and off the Coromandel Peninsula. According to newspaper reports, one of the birds was seen in January and last month (November, 2003) two British ornithologists saw a flock of up to 20 of the birds near Little Barrier Island: here.

Cook’s Petrel: here.

Black petrel: here.

13 thoughts on “Chatham Islands tui back on main island

  1. Repopulation of tui on peninsula succeeds

    By SAM SACHDEVA – The Press

    Last updated 05:00 18/01/2010

    TWEET TREAT: A tui fledgling at Long Bay, below Hinewai Reserve, is one of the first to be born on Banks Peninsula in many years.

    The warble of the tui is again being heard on Banks Peninsula thanks to a community project to re-establish the birds.

    The Banks Peninsula Conservation Trust helped move 30 tui to the area last year, in the hope the birds would again breed in the region.

    Trust co-ordinator Rachel Barker said the project started in 2007, with support from the trust, Ngai Tahu and residents.

    She said the tui left the area 15 to 20 years ago.

    “There are a lot of people around who can still remember the tui from their childhood, and remember how great it was to have them around.”

    The birds were relocated from Maud Bay in the Marlborough Sounds – with Department of Conservation approval – and released at Hinewai Reserve near Akaroa last April.

    Lincoln University lecturer Laura Molles, who has helped track the birds through public sightings and volunteers’ work since their release, said she was aware of at least three breeding pairs in the area. “There are two fledglings, and three more nests with either eggs or chicks still in them,” Molles said.

    Data was being collected on the birds’ movements, their habitats and their breeding.

    “We’ll get an idea of whether we think the peninsula is suitable; we can understand more about any food shortages in certain areas throughout the year.”

    Barker was delighted that the tui were back. “It’s fantastic. If you hear or see tui on the peninsula, it’s just such a thrill, and it’s been a really great community effort.”

    The trust planned to bring 30 more tui to the area in March.


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