Mana bellbirds make big trip
A pair of bellbirds from the Mana Island sanctuary have made a surprising appearance 25 kilometres away at Zealandia in Karori.
A female bellbird turned up right under the nose of the conservation officer who originally banded it for a transfer from Kapiti Island to Mana Island last month.
Matu Booth helped transfer 60 bellbird for their restoration plan, a partnership between the Conservation Department and Friends of Mana Island.
He was doing his rounds at Zealandia on Friday, August 31, when he noticed one of the birds he had attached a leg band to.
“I immediately noticed the unfamiliar leg band combination – you do get very tuned in to those colours over time. There was a lot of interest from the resident males, they were chasing her and singing to her.’’
Mr Booth says he went back to the office, checked their database and emailed DoC and the Friends of Mana Island, who confirmed the bird was from the recent transfer.
‘‘I helped set up the aviary for that transfer and banded nine birds myself. I’ve just checked my records and this happens to be one of those nine.’’
A second bellbird from the same transfer was also sighted at Zealandia last week.
Staff hope the new female will stay and add genetic variation to the local bellbird population.
Conservation manager Raewyn Empson was happy to hear about the sighting.
“She’s just in time for the spring breeding season so it would be absolutely fantastic if she sticks around.’’
‘‘We have observed a high rate of dispersal with bellbird that makes it difficult to establish a population here. We see our birds, especially juvenile females, leaving the safety of the valley each year, often not to return.’’
Mana Island is closer to the mainland than Kapiti Island and Kapiti bellbirds are not banded.
Banding gives conservationists useful information to track the success of translocations and resulting populations. Two of the birds from the same Kapiti-Mana transfer were killed by animals on the mainland, one at Titahi Bay.
Bellbird are found naturally in forest parks including the Rimutakas and Tararuas but are at risk in unprotected areas from mammalian pests.
Unexpected guest: Two bellbirds like this one have appeared at Zealandia a month after their transfer from Kapiti Island to the Mana Island sanctuary.