Rare fairy tern chick hatches in New Zealand
‘Critically endangered’ bird has been on the brink of extinction since the 1970s
Conservationists are celebrating the birth of one of New Zealand’s rarest birds at Mangawhai.
The number of one of the country’s rarest birds, the New Zealand fairy tern/tara-iti, has been boosted by a chick successfully hatching at Mangawhai, in late November.
With a total population of around just 40 birds, the NZ fairy tern is critically endangered, and has teetered on the brink of extinction since the 1970s.
Department of Conservation Mangawhai Fairy Tern Ranger Keven Drew hopes the new chick will help boost fairy tern numbers.
“Although it is early days for the chick and the risks are high, we are hopeful he or she will continue to do well and fledge later in summer,” Mr Drew said.
Fairy terns nest on shell and sand banks just above high tide, which makes them vulnerable to rats, stoats and other predators, disturbance by people, 4WD vehicles and dogs. They are also at risk from stormy weather and very high tides.
“The birds cannot be transported to predator-free offshore islands because they are very particular about where they nest, and the chicks are not raised in captivity as they have to be looked after by their parents while they learn how to fish successfully” he said.
A dedicated team of four fairy tern DoC rangers have been busy since September trapping predators near nesting sites and preventing nesting birds from being disturbed by humans.
Once widespread around the North Island and on the eastern South Island, the NZ fairy tern now breeds at only four nesting sites: Papakanui Spit, Pakiri Beach, Waipu and Mangawhai sandspits. Only 11 breeding pairs remain.
To help New Zealand fairy terns, people need to stay out of fenced areas and use designated walkways, avoid shorebird nests and chicks and keep dogs on a lead. Beachgoers can also remove bait, fish and rubbish to deter predators and run vehicles below the tide mark.
DoC says if you are being chased, squawked at, or if a bird is on the ground pretending to be injured, you are too close to a nest. If you find a nest, do not touch it — the parents will be close by.
No dogs or vehicles in wildlife refuges and reserves and disturbance of wildlife is an offence. WDC Dog Bylaw 2013 has a NZ$300 (US$206) infringement notice for non compliance with the ban on dogs in reserves and refuges.