Save our rare birds by rid­ding forests of rats

Katikati Advertiser - - Your Community Voice - By ANN GRAEME

Controlling rats is the key to cre­at­ing a healthy for­est. Rats eat al­most ev­ery­thing. They eat the fruits and the seeds that fall on the for­est floor so there are few seedlings to re­plen­ish the for­est or for the na­tive in­sects in the leaf lit­ter to eat. Rats eat the na­tive in­ver­te­brates — like bee­tles, weta, grubs and worms — which are also food for birds like robins. Rats eat birds’ eggs and chicks in the nest. This is dev­as­tat­ing for kereru which only lay one egg in a nest.

So it is no co­in­ci­dence that since we have been controlling rats in Aon­gatete for­est, the birds have mul­ti­plied. Now there are lots of robins, the pre­vi­ously un­recorded ri­fle­men are mak­ing nests and a new bird has been seen! It is the white­head, a bird that is nick­named the bush ca­nary be­cause of its song. It is cousin to the en­dan­gered yel­low head of the South Is­land. A few white­heads must have been hang­ing on in the Kaimais and now some birds are mak­ing Aon­gatete their home.

Rats are ev­ery­where. You will have some in your back­yard. You can be part of Preda­tor-free New Zealand and get rid of your rats. Use bait sta­tions, man­ual traps or the new self-set­ting rat traps. Then you will only have to dis­pose of the bod­ies. The wildlife in your gar­den will re­ward you.

PHOTO / DAVID BROOKS

A white­head.

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