A mission to bring back songbirds

Last Updated : 25 Jun 2018
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A North Island Kaka

Eastern Bays residents are flocking to join a national ‘predator-free’ campaign helping increase the numbers of native songbirds in their gardens, parks and reserves.

The Eastern Bays Songbird Project was set up in 2017 by local bird and restoration enthusiasts, many of whom have been working in the area for decades. The project has quickly brought together locals and gained support from others further afield who are keen to rid their neighbourhoods of rats and other mammalian pests.

So far over 200 rat traps have been set on private properties and in local reserves to help control rat numbers.

"Rats are a major problem for our native wildlife," says Project Manager Julie Robson. "They eat the eggs of birds and compete for food sources including fruits and seeds."

"Lots of people have been keen to help get rid of rats and have taken one of our traps out on loan. We teach people how to safely set and check the traps and provide ongoing support."

Bring back the music 2 - photo credit David Mudge Nga Manu Images.JPG
Rat eating native bird eggs. Photo Credit: David Mudge

Get involved

If you don’t fancy rat trapping, Julie says there are lots of other ways you can help out.

The team gives out ‘chew cards’ which monitor which pests are around – the bite marks on the card identify if mice, rats, possums or hedgehogs are in the area. The chew cards are a fun way to get children involved in the project.

Many locals have also helped out with long-term monitoring by doing backyard bird counts, including several sessions at Churchill Park.

At the moment the project is focusing on the St Heliers and Kohimarama area which includes reserves Dingle Dell, Kepa Bush and Kohimarama Valley Forest. These reserves provide important sanctuaries for birds. Rare native birds such as kākā are already being seen in the area.

“Our hope is that more people will soon be able to wake up to the sight and sounds of tūī, kererū and fantails in their back gardens.” 

Future trap handout and project information sessions

Eastridge Shopping Centre:

  • Saturday 7 July
  • 10am-2pm

Head along to one of the sessions or visit songbird.org.nz to see how you could get involved or contact Julie Robson at joolzr@gmail.com or 021 836 540.

Rat facts

  • Female rats are able to have 5 litters a year of up to 14 babies at a time.
  • Rats head indoors in the colder months to find food and warmth.
  • The ‘hottest summer on record’ this year, according to NIWA allowed for a longer breeding season for the pests, resulting in higher rat numbers in many areas this year.

Pest Free Green

Get involved with Pest Free Auckland 2050, a community-led conservation programme facilitated by Auckland Council or find a conservation group near you at Nature Space.

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