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Kākā sightings on the rise in central Auckland

Published: 12 July 2018
Photo credit: Tim Lovegrove

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Who are the latest visitors returning to the city?

The restoration of urban bush and an enthusiastic network of neighbourhood conservationists trapping pests across the city are contributing to a resurgence of native bird numbers in Auckland.

After being scarce in the city for many decades, there has been an increasing number of sightings of the endangered high-flyer of the parrot world, the sweet-toothed kākā. In recent months kākā have been reported from St Heliers to Mt Eden feeding on berries and fruits.

Most of the kākā spotted in the city are likely to be seasonal visitors from the Barrier Islands where kākā are still common. However, some may also be visiting from the Hunua Ranges or Tawharanui where intensive control and removal of predatory mammals is allowing kākā to breed successfully.

Environment and Community Chair Penny Hulse says, “It’s pretty remarkable to see them returning, given the built-up nature of the areas. These are very exciting times conservation wise; the great ecological restoration projects happening across the city as part of Pest Free Auckland are delivering results, which is so pleasing to see.”

The extroverted and noisy native parrot used to be as common as a sparrow on the mainland. But the kākā is now seen infrequently because nesting females and their young are vulnerable to pests, especially stoats and cats.

A powerful and acrobatic flyer, it is more often heard before being seen; raucous by nature its loud screeches and whistles are unmistakable. Māori referred to them as “gossips” because of their large chattering flocks.

So it’s great to see that in places where habitats are suitable and predators are being kept sufficiently low, the kākā is making a steady comeback.

If you see a kākā you can register the sighting on the KakaWatchNZ website.