Kākā make a comeback 

Waipā residents are seeing more – and different – native birds in suburban back yards as conservation projects continue to develop throughout Waikato.

The news comes as the Department of Conservation celebrates a rise in the number of kākā in the King Country.

A long-term kākā monitoring programme in Pureora Forest Park has shown a fourfold increase in kākā numbers following pest control in the Waipapa Ecological Area and a tipping of the balance back towards a more even sex ratio.

The Waipapa kākā population has increased from 600 birds between 2000 and 2007 to around 2,600 birds during 2020 – an average annual population increase of 6.4 per cent.

Mana Whenua Landcare Research expert John Inness says “generally” the level that birds will reach at Cambridge and Te Awamutu will be set by how much planting of food trees people do – and there has to be predator control where and when birds try to nest.

“Ongoing conservation efforts at Maungatautari and Pirongia in particular will help chances that some of these birds will one day decide to try nesting outside, but without predator control it is risky for them,” he said.

Kākā are already being found in Hamilton and Morrinsville.

“We have been catching kākā and putting GPS tags on, but they never nest here,” John Innes says.

Most of them are immature and have come from the Hauraki Gulf. To get them to nest around towns, they would need to be bred in the Waikato – such as Maungatautari and next to Hamilton Zoo.

“The zoo director Baird Fleming is committed to focusing more on

New Zealand conservation issues, and the zoo and Waiwhakareke will be run side by side.

They are looking at pest-fencing Waiwhakareke.”

There has also been a surge of effort into gully restoration in Hamilton and more pest control means more chances for native wildlife to flourish.

Numbers of suburban tui have boomed over the past 15 years but attracting kereru and korimako – the bell bird – out of rural settings and into the Hamilton, Cambridge and Te Awamutu has posed a puzzle.

Mana Whenua Landcare Research is not sure why the tui has benefited so much more than kereru and korimako.

“We have not done the research on them that tui got. We think that korimako may be nesting at Tamahere, but they are very rare in town. I think there is the odd kereru in Hamilton, but they never display dive or attempt to nest. We think that they may have food issues in the broader landscape, but we can’t work them out,” John Innes said.

He says the planned Mangapiko corridor between Pirongia and Maungatautari should in the long-term help birds move around and better riverside planting along the Waikato between Karāpiro and Hamilton would help too.

Are you seeing more native wildlife? Tell us your story – email [email protected]

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