Secretive birds back in Porirua
You might have more chance of hearing Porirua’s newest residents than actually seeing them.
A group of ‘‘secretive’’ and atrisk native birds has been reintroduced into Pauatahanui Wildlife Reserve, a habitat they last occupied in the 1980s.
In the first transfer of its kind, about 25 Fernbirds - named for their distinctive tail - were transferred from Taranaki last week, Department of Conservation ranger Lee Barry said.
‘‘They’re quite secretive, they act like little mice,’’ she said.
Would-be bird spotters should listen for the bird’s distinctive call, a ‘‘u-tick’’ sound given as a duet by members of a pair, she said.
The birds, who look like tiny sparrows with long ragged tails, burrow through dense ground vegetation and were rarely seen by people.
‘‘They also don’t fly very well so people should look just above the vegetation which is where they sometimes flutter along.’’
Apart from a ‘‘couple of birds hanging about’’ in estuaries at Waikanae and Foxton, the breed had been largely absent from the lower North Island.
‘‘In the 1980s there were still a few living at Pauatahanui but a fire destroyed the last of their habitat and the poor little guys had a hard time after that.’’
The birds were packed into individual carriers stuffed full of grasses to make the long trip south in the experimental move.
Barry said the environment the birds had come from was different to Porirua’s so the tiny creatures might not stick around.
‘‘They may shift to people’s gardens which is why we’d love the public to keep an eye out for them.’’
The re-introduction was possible due to decades of restoration work on the estuary, carried out by volunteers from the Forest and Bird Pauatahanui Reserve Com- mittee.
‘‘They’ve worked at it for 30 years and this is a total credit to that.’’
Committee member Wanda Tate said the group had turned things around by growing and planting thousands of natives, restoring natural drainage and ponds, and building tracks, boardwalks and bird hides with the support of DOC.
She asked that sightings of the birds, who would be wearing brightly coloured bands around their legs could be reported to pauatahanuireservecommitte
Shhhh: A rarely-seen fernbird.