‘At risk’ na­tive bird dis­cov­ered

Central Leader - - OUT & ABOUT - TORIKA TOKALAU-CHAN­DRA

A rare na­tive bird has been dis­cov­ered at a west Auck­land wet­land for the first time.

The banded rail, a small, se­cre­tive, ground liv­ing bird, was dis­cov­ered at the coastal wet­land by Ruther­ford Col­lege, in Te Atatu on July 1.

Se­nior bio­di­ver­sity ad­vi­sor at Auck­land Coun­cil, Ben Paris, con­firmed the banded rail, which has a con­ser­va­tion sta­tus of ‘‘at riskde­clin­ing’’ was cap­tured on video footage from a cam­era trap.

It’s the first time banded rails - or moho pereru - had been seen in the area.

‘‘We have sus­pected banded rails to be found in this man­grove habi­tat,’’ Paris said.

‘‘We know that they are in the salt marsh habi­tat of Har­bourview Re­serve on the east side of the penin­sula, but this was great to con­firm their pres­ence on the other side too.’’

The birds are usu­ally found in man­grove and salt­marsh habi­tats, in es­tu­ar­ine wet­lands.

Re­luc­tant fliers, banded rails can travel long dis­tances, mainly at night.

Num­bers of the bird de­clined from around the 1930s mostly due to habi­tat destruc­tion like wet­land drainage, recla­ma­tion and from in­tro­duced preda­tors. Over the last 40 years, the birds ap­pear to have gone from the lower half of the North Is­land.

Paris said the dis­cov­ery of the banded rail at Te Atatu in­di­cated a healthy wet­land, as the birds needed a di­verse habi­tat and rich food sup­ply.

‘‘They are a se­cre­tive, rather cam­ou­flaged bird, and usu­ally don’t ven­ture far out into the open – the best chance of see­ing one is along the edge of man­groves at low tide.

‘‘Their foot­prints are more of­ten seen then the bird them­selves.’’

Auck­land Coun­cil were work­ing closely with Com­mu­nity Waitakere and other part­ners to help con­serve the habi­tat and con­nect peo­ple liv­ing nearby.

‘‘Te Atatu Penin­sula forms a vi­tal part of the North-West Wildlink wildlife cor­ri­dor con­nect­ing na­ture across Auck­land.

‘‘Mak­ing sure this banded rail habi­tat is healthy, safe and con­nected is es­sen­tial to help these birds move freely across the Auck­land re­gion.’’

In­tro­duced preda­tors, like stoats, rats and cats pose sig­nif­i­cant threats to banded rails.

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