Rare saddleback chicks found in Polhill Gully

10 November 2014

A nest with two rare saddleback chicks has been discovered in Polhill Gully, and a team of volunteers has swung into action to keep them safe. The chicks’ nest has been surrounded by predator traps and volunteers are keeping watch.

Saddleback nesting in a tree hollow.

Rare saddleback chick

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Its position – only 30cm off the ground – means it is especially vulnerable to predators such as cats, rats and stoats. Council ranger Matt Robertson and volunteers from the Polhill Restoration Project are doing their best to keep it safe.

Until recently, saddlebacks had been extinct on the mainland for more than 100 years. They were first reintroduced in 2002 to Zealandia. Since then there have been several other introductions to the mainland but only successfully to fenced sanctuaries.

Marc Slade of the Polhill Restoration Project says the discovery of the nest is very special. “For a bird like that to be breeding in an unprotected area is a once-in-a-century experience.”

Myfanwy Emeny, Team Leader for Urban Ecology at the Council, says the tui-sized saddleback spends a lot of time on the ground and it isn’t a strong flyer.

People visiting the reserve are urged to keep their dogs on a lead.