News | 14 September 2021

Get out and count close encounters of the bird kind

We have always been a proud supporter of the Great Kererū Count, and in its last year, we want to see those sightings soaring.

Kereru sitting in tree photo credit Tony Stoddard
Credit Tony Stoddard

The count is the eighth and final year of this citizen science project, so everyone’s contributions will help complete the data on where kererū are across Wellington – and the rest of New Zealand.

Last year, 21,509 kererū were counted by over 10,000 participants nationwide – the greatest number to date, and a fifty percent increase in sightings from 2019, which shows a significant increase in community engagement and that predator control, planting and education is making a huge difference, says Mayor Andy Foster.

“The Great Kererū Count is an important and popular citizen science project gathering information around kererū distribution and numbers. Regionally Wellington recorded over 5,600 kererū, over a quarter of the national total, with 30 percent of our regional sightings recorded in Wellington City.

“There’s no doubt kererū are coming back in Wellington. I recall as a new councillor being told we had a couple of pairs of kererū in Wellington, and now I often see several times that number just walking round the block!

“It’s all part of our incredible environmental restoration journey, the result of nearly thirty years of land protection, natural and assisted revegetation and increasingly intensive predator control. Wellington City is now undoubtedly a biodiversity hot spot and our restoration journey continues.

“Pest control has played a major role in boosting kererū numbers. Kererū are also hungry birds, and they love native plants and trees like kōwhai, tawa, tī kōuka (cabbage tree) and nikau. They’re also experts in the dispersal of several native tree species – so let’s all get out there counting, trapping, and planting this month,” says Mayor Foster.

Tony Stoddard of Kererū Discovery, who coordinates the count, says community participation over the last seven years has been a privilege to be part of. A passionate advocate for kererū, he encourages everyone to take part in the final count down.

“Over the last seven years there has been a total of 52,034 observations, and 119,910 kererū counted. For this final count, it’s important that as many people as possible join in. It’s super easy, good for you, and good for kererū.”

Council’s Urban Ecology Manager, Daniela Biaggio, adds: “The Great Kererū Count is a brilliant example of how we can make conservation easy and meaningful in Wellington, by connecting a simple action of each count into a larger project that helps us understand a species and inform management decisions.”

Everyone can participate in the final count wherever they are, either through iNaturalist or through the Great Kererū Count website. The count runs from 17 – 26 September.