Rare bird makes a comeback
The future of one of New Zealand’s smallest endangered birds is looking brighter after rangers discovered they were breeding.
Three pairs of breeding yellowheads, or mohua, were discovered by delighted Department of Conservation (DOC) rangers on Blumine Island in the Marlborough Sounds.
The find indicates the endangered yellow birds are finally making the island sanctuary home.
DOC services ranger Dan Palmer says the discovery meant the birds had settled in well.
‘‘We saw the adults catch several large caterpillars and grubs to feed to their young ones,’’ says Dan.
‘‘It was especially pleasing to find the nests as the year before only nine adult mohua could be found and no chicks were seen so we couldn’t be sure if they were breeding.
‘‘But we now believe they had been breeding as the male of the pair incubating eggs was unbanded.
‘‘All the mohua moved to Blumine Island had bands put on their legs to identify them so this unbanded bird must have hatched on the island.’’
The yellowhead is a small bird endemic to the South Island of New Zealand.
Rangers moved 31 birds to Blumine Island, 22 kilometres north of Picton, from West Otago’s Blue Mountains in 2013.
The move aimed to establish a mohua population on the predator-free island to help ensure the survival of the species which, says DOC, is ‘‘worryingly low’’.
DOC rangers last month found five pairs of mohua on the island, three of which were raising young. One pair had two fledglings, a second pair had three fledglings and a third pair was incubating eggs.
‘‘The mohua on Blumine Island appear to have taken a couple of years to fully adjust and adapt to their new environment.
‘‘Numbers are still uncomfortably low putting the population at risk from threats such as a stoat getting onto the island or a storm.
‘‘But knowing the mohua can breed to build up their numbers gives us encouragement they can have a secure future on Blumine Island.’’