Birds of the Wairarapa and where to see them
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Field guide to the birds of Mt. Bruce Forest Reserve and National Wildlife Centre

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Brown Kiwi (Apteryx australis)

Description: Our flightless national emblem has long shaggy feathers, robust legs and claws that can inflict a nasty wound. The beak, which the uses to probe the soil in its quest for worms and insects, has nostril openings at the tip. Numbers in the wild have fallen alarmingly in recent years, due largely to predation on eggs and young chicks by introduced mammals. The egg is very large and can occupy 20% of birds body mass. The chick at hatching has to use its feet to break out of the shell and this process can take up to 4 days.

Habitat: The can be seen in the nocturnal house where the subdued lighting simulates night time in the forest. The long whitish beak flashing in the half light may draw your attention to the birds presence.

Size: 40 cm

Campbell Island Teal (Anas aucklandica nesiotus)

Description: Both sexes look alike with the male developing some greenish colouration on the head in breeding plumage. This is the rarest duck in the world with only about 20 of these flightless birds surviving in the wild on Dent Island in the Campbell Islands. The population is now considered to be a distinct form of the . Breeding success at Mt. Bruce has been very good.

Habitat: With their dark brown colouring, and tendency to be most active outside public viewing hours (they are crepuscular and most active very early in the morning, and in the evening), they are not always easy to see in their enclosure.

Size: 50 cm

New Zealand Falcon (Falco novaeseelandiae)

Description: Fast-flying brown bird of prey which lives entirely on captured live prey, especially small birds and rabbits. Small birds immediately become silent if they see a in vicinity. Will fearlessly attack humans if they approach nest site. Will often perch motionless on look out for prey.

Habitat: Are probably more widespread than is thought as they are fast-flying and most active in early morning and evening. They do not hover whilst hunting like the .

Takahe (Porphyrio mantelli)

Description: Big, blue and green rail which could be described as a stouter version of the more familiar . The wild population on the mainland is now about 200 but successful captive breeding takes place at Te Anau and wild colonies are beginning to flourish on three off-shore islands.

Habitat: Since their re-discovery in the Te Anau mountains in 1948, has been associated with the Reserve since its inception. Although they no longer breed at Mt Bruce, almost all of the initial breeding research was carried out here.

Size: 65 cm

Shore Plover (Thinornis novaeseelandiae)

Description: Confiding shorebird with distinctive black "mask", red beak tipped with black and short legs.

Habitat: The birds at Mt. Bruce are not usually on public display. They are, however, an important part of the captive breeding programme. There are only about 150 plovers on South East Island in The Chathams. Surplus eggs removed from South East have been successfully incubated and the chicks reared at Mt. Bruce. Birds raised at Mt Bruce are then transferred to predator-free offshore islands and new populations are being established.

New Zealand Pigeon (Hemiphaga novaeseelandiae)

Description: Our largest pigeon. Head, throat, upper breast and upper parts metallic green with touches of purple and bronze. Belly white. Distinctive noisy flight in bush and spectacular courtship displays when either bird flies upwards, stalls and dives with stiff outstretched wings. Fruit eaters preferring those of miro, tawa, puriri, coprosma and titoki. Can devastate plum trees and also fond of flowers and leaves of kowhai, tree lucerne, laburnum and broom. Relatively trusting and can be approached quite closely.

Habitat: Look for high up in fruiting trees.

Size: 50 cm

Kaka (Nestor meridionalis)

Description: Large olive-green forest parrot with reddish brown underparts and bright red under wings obvious in flight. They are inquisitive birds and can tear up rotten logs with their strong beaks in their search for grubs. They will also eat seeds, fruit and nectar.

Habitat: In the Tararua Forest Park the Kaka is not commonly seen, but the harsh grating call is not infrequently heard. Until a recent release of these birds, they had not been seen in the Mt Bruce forest for 60 years. Several pairs are now nesting locally in the wild and free-flying birds now number more than 20. They are often seen "walking" up side down across aviary roof using their beak as a third leg.

Size: 45 cm

Red-crowned Parakeet (Cyanoramphus novaezelandiae)

Description: Bright green parrot with scarlet forehead. Feeds on seeds (often on the ground) fruits, nectar, shoots and insects. Uncommon now on mainland as they are hole nesters and commonly ground feeders and consequently very prone to predation by cats, stoats and rats.

Habitat: More often heard than seen in bush by their "ki-ki-ki" call as they fly.

Eastern Rosella (Platycercus eximius)

Description: Perhaps our most colourful parrot, with a mix of scarlet, yellow, black, blue and green. Rapid flight where long tail is obvious. Chattering calls plus clear almost bell-like whistles easily imitated and bitds will often call back. A resourceful bird which eats seeds, fruit, buds and insects. Introduced from Australia, it can be destructive in orchards.
Habitat: Well established in Tararua foothills and from here have spread eastward to Masterton, Greytown and beyond. Favour open lightly timbered country with scattered Totara.

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