Mana bell­birds make big trip

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS -

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.

Photo: STEVE ATTWOOD

Un­ex­pected guest: Two bell­birds like this one have ap­peared at Zealan­dia a month af­ter their trans­fer from Kapiti Is­land to the Mana Is­land sanc­tu­ary.

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