News | 2 November 2021
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Dawn chorus becoming a symphony in Pōneke

Bird numbers are flying high in the capital, and we’re celebrating with a video being launched today showcasing how science and community action have contributed to this rousing wake-up call.

Titipounamu chick having a bath in a pond
Titipounamu chick credit Melissa Boardman

Wellingtonians love talking birdy, with the Garden Bird Survey, Great Kererū Count and the Bird of the Year popular events on the local calendar, and our latest report and video shows we have cause to celebrate, says Mayor Andy Foster.

“Wellington City Council’s on-going support for Zealandia, decades of restoration programmes, effective biodiversity management, funding and aiding predator eradication and volunteer programmes means native species numbers are flying high and wide.

“Obviously there is no better recognition of all this hard work, passion and dedication than titipounamu choosing to nest in Te Ahumairangi – the first breeding of this species in our reserves in over 100 years.”


In the past five years over 72,000 pests have been removed from our city through community trapping including rats, stoats, and possum as part of the Predator Free Wellington initiative, says Council’s Biosecurity Specialist, Henk Louw.


“With over 9,000 traps operating in reserves and backyards, this provides a safe space for birds jumping the Zealandia fence and nesting elsewhere.


“We also reached the milestone of restoration, planting over two million native plants this year, creating connected habitats with an abundance of food and nesting opportunities.”

Every year, we evaluate the state and trends of birds in Pōneke, and 2021 is the 10-year milestone of this monitoring programme, meaning we can now see meaningful trends across the city and in some key species, says Urban Ecology Manager, Daniela Biaggio.

“Most meaningfully we are finding more birds, more species of birds, and bird communities that are becoming more dominative by native species.

“Results from the latest report show kākā, kererū, tūī and pīwakawaka are thriving, korimako and kākāriki are also widespread. While many Wellingtonians may not have seen the data, most know that kākā are making their presence felt all over the city, and tūī have become an everyday sight in our communities.

“But it’s not all good news with species like tīeke, toutouwai and pōpokotea still finding it challenging to establish outside the safety of Zealandia's fence largely due to predators.


“Continued trapping of pest animals and responsible pet ownership can make a real difference for these species – so we can see native bird numbers soar even higher in the future.”


We know science reports are not everyone’s cup of tea so to mark the 10 years of the report and celebrate our successes, Wellington City Council is launching a video with the key stats and findings to tell the story of birdlife in Pōneke.


Key findings from the report:

•           Native forest bird numbers have increased by 50% in the last 10 years, with bird communities becoming more diverse and increasingly dominated by native species. 

•           Kākāriki have seen the largest increase – 500% up from 10 years ago – and they are now well established in some of our reserves.

•           We are now two and a half times more likely to see kākā throughout the city. These beautiful birds are spreading far and wide, finding new places to live. Some are even visiting our neighbours in Porirua and the Hutt Valley. 

•           Another native that is starting to explore new areas is the kererū.  Their numbers have increased by a hefty 186%, and we can now see them in places like Johnsonville and the Miramar peninsula.

•           Our friends the tūī have increased by 121%. While these birds were already common, they’re loving feeding on the Harakeke and Kowhai planted through our restoration programme.

•           Population spill over from Zealandia is a big driver of the change. We find twice as many species of birds in counts around Zealandia than we do in the areas further away. This is great to see as one third of the native species encountered were reintroduced to Zealandia.