Kererū sightings encouraging

Peek-a-boo. I’m here after all. Photo, Tim Slater.

A Warkworth man’s increased sightings of kererū in his garden in Percy Street has helped confirm researchers’ views that lower sightings generally should not be cause for alarm.

Tim Slater managed to snap several pictures of the New Zealand native pigeon nibbling on loquats in his garden.

This year, he’s managed five sightings of the birds, whereas at the same time last year he saw only one.

His increased sightings go against a nationwide trend where fewer sightings have been reported.

This year, The Great Kererū Count, a longitudinal study of the birds recorded 6,700 observations of the birds in September, compared with 8,500 last year.

But director of the centre for biodiversity & restoration at Victoria University Dr Stephen Hartley says this does not necessarily mean there has been a drop in the kereru population.

He says the bumper fruiting season over spring has meant there have been unusually high amounts of forest fruit. One possibility is that kereru have been staying deep in the forest, rather than venturing out into towns and cities.

Great Kererū Count organiser Tony Stoddard sees this as a good thing.

“Kererū will go out of their way to follow their favourite foods. Kererū feeding on native forest fruit is exactly what they need to do, as they play a crucial role in dispersing seeds of large trees like tawa, taraire, hinau and miro – this is why they are known as ‘gardeners of the sky’.”

The aim of the Great Kererū Count is to monitor how kererū are faring.

Now in its sixth year, it is anticipated the count needs to gather at least eight years of data to help New Zealand understand how best to restore healthy and abundant populations of the bird.

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