The Dominion Post

Secretive birds call Porirua home again

- VIRGINIA FALLON

You might have more chance of hearing Porirua’s newest residents than actually seeing them.

A group of ‘‘secretive’’ and at-risk native birds has been re-introduced into Pauatahanu­i Wildlife Reserve; a habitat the species 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 species’ 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 so are 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 because of decades of restoratio­n work at the estuary, carried out by volunteers from the Forest and Bird Pauatahanu­i Reserve Committee.

‘‘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 thousands of native plants, restoring natural drainage and ponds, as well as building tracks, boardwalks and bird hides with the support of DOC.

Sightings of the birds – each of which has a brightly coloured band around one leg – can be reported by sending an email to pauatahanu­ireserve committee@outlook.com.

 ??  ?? Twenty-five fernbirds – named for their distinctiv­e ragged tail – were released at Pauatahanu­i Wildlife Reserve by Conservati­on Department rangers last week.
Twenty-five fernbirds – named for their distinctiv­e ragged tail – were released at Pauatahanu­i Wildlife Reserve by Conservati­on Department rangers last week.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand