Last year the fan-favourite Kererū swooped in and claimed Bird of the Year 2018, but now it seems the native birds are nowhere to be seen.
Greater Wellington Regional Council have been monitoring kererū numbers at Kaitoke Regional Park for the past 16 years.
Usually they complete their counts at the site from the end of August to mid-September, but not this year.
“In the last couple of years they have averaged around 150 a day for the five days, across one month, they get counted,” Greater Wellington Environmental Monitoring Officer Faline Drummond says.
No kererū at all
During monitoring this year “there were no kererū at all” which is highly unusual given that the kowhai, which are popular with the birds, are well into flowering.
“We have been noticing ourselves, and members of the public have been commenting, that they are not on kowhai trees around the region where they are usually seen.
“It is a possibility that they haven’t come down from the large forests yet as there is thought to be an abundance of fruit there due to the mast this year,” Faline says.
Wellingtonians looking to take part in The Great Kererū Count from September 20-29 will have their work cut out for them, after 18,981 of the birds were counted nationwide during last year’s event.
Birds play vital role
The annual event looks to improve conservation outcomes as these birds play an important part in regenerating native forests by spreading over 70 different native species of forest plants through their consumption of fruits such as karaka, tawa and miro.
The Great Kererū Count is run by Urban Wildlife Trust & Kereru Discovery along with Wellington City Council, Dunedin City Council, Nelson City Council and Victoria University of Wellington.