Forest bird and bird of the year The competition began in 2005 to showcase the plight of New Zealand’s native birds and is now the town’s tweet every year.
In this hotly contested event, Wellington City Council is teaming up with Zealandia to support the smallest but most powerful bird in the group – the titipounamu.
Not only were the titipounamu first sighted in the wild in Wellington in over 100 years, they also build nests and have just become proud parents outside the safety of Zealandia’s fence.
Mayor Andy Foster says that our smallest bird nesting outside Zealandia’s protective fence is yet another illustration of Wellington’s remarkable and continuing journey of environmental restoration.
“Every day we see evidence of native bird salvage. It is the result of large-scale land acquisition and protection, active and natural rejuvenation, and extensive predator control.
“This is the result of thirty years of work by the Council and tens of thousands of Wellingtonians. These proud and special little parents are another tribute to this great ongoing teamwork.
“We have already seen massive increases in tui, kākā, kererū and kākāriki in the capital, and now we have the titipounamu make their presence felt – so let’s put them at the top of the pecking order this year! “
Council Biosafety Specialist Henk Louw accepts comment from titipounamu is a team effort and it is a nice reward for all this mahi.
“Volunteers protect Wellington’s native manu by trapping predators like rats on Council reserves and in their own backyards. Two rats were trapped near the titipounamu nesting site since we have been monitoring it. In addition, ongoing restoration efforts through community planting provide suitable forest habitat for titipounamu to enjoy.
“The best protection for native wildlife is to trap pests and plant native trees, especially in backyards. This will reduce large gaps in tree canopy and create corridors for these birds to roam around town. It is also important to manage your pets to minimize any risk to native wildlife.
Titipounamu were introduced to the Wellington Ecosanctuary, Zealandia Te Māra a Tāne, from the mainland island of Wainuiomata in 2019. Breeding has been successful inside the security of the predator-free sanctuary and so far there has been no successful breeding outside the fence in Wellington City.
“These birds spreading beyond the fence show how our community’s restoration efforts are increasing Zealandia’s impact on our capital. It is wonderful to see Wellingtonians stand behind these birds and do what they can to make it a safer place for them.
“The Bird of the Year gives us the opportunity to share their history and for locals to celebrate their nature-rich capital and the feathered residents they live with,” said Zealandia science communicator Gini Letham.
Some facts about the titipounamu:
- They have a very high-pitched cry.
- Males are green with yellow and white markings, females are brown with dark markings.
- They are the smallest endemic birds and also lay the smallest eggs.
- They weigh about 6 g and are similar in size to a golf ball.
- They are one of the two remaining cave dwelling species in New Zealand, which makes them very unique.
- Classified as not threatened in New Zealand, although in Wellington they were extinct until their reintroduction into Zealandia.
- The Maori refer to these little birds as messengers of the gods, especially as one of the messengers of Tāne, god of the forest.
Voting for Forest & Bird’s Bird of the Year for this year’s contest will run from Monday October 18 through Saturday October 30. This year, voters can select up to five birds, ranking them from 1 to 5.
Last year kākāpō took the crown of feathers, but let’s do the mighty titipounamu the high-flying champion for 2021.