PHOTO: Shellie Evans ©

Introduction

The dabchick, or weweia is a specialised waterbird endemic to New Zealand. They are currently extinct from the South Island but they can be found around the Central North Island in Taupo and Rotorua.
Did you know?

Dabchicks dive for their food up to 4 m deep. They can hold their breath for around 40 seconds.

Dabchick conservation

They used to be present in the lakes of the lower South Island but underwent a rapid decline there (for unknown reasons) in the 19th century. 

Today, the largest populations are concentrated around the Central North Island in Taupo and Rotorua.

Usually nests are anchored to emergent aquatic vegetation like raupö or sedges, or tree branches that trail into the water. Because the nest is attached to something it doesn’t have much bouyancy, so dabchick nests are very easily swamped by even a small rise in water levels – including boat wash.

Eggs are also vulnerable to predation by Norway rats that like to live near water and are good swimmers.

DOC, alongside volunteers, currently complete bi-annual surveys of dabchick populations with the aim of identifying varying populations.

You can help

Volunteer on dabchick surveys. These run twice a year in different Rotorua lakes. Contact the Rotorua DOC office.

The dabchick breeding season runs from September to December. Avoid getting too close during this time.

Emergency hotline

Call 0800 DOC HOT (0800 362 468) immediately if you see anyone catching, harming or killing native wildlife. 

Help protect our native birds

When visiting parks, beaches, rivers, and lakes
  • Only take dogs to areas that allow them, and keep them under control.
  • Check your gear for mice and rats when visiting pest-free islands.
  • Leave nesting birds alone.
  • Use available access ways to get to the beach. 
  • Avoid leaving old fishing lines on beaches or in the sea.
  • Follow the water care code and local navigation bylaws.
  • Don't drive on riverbeds, or keep to formed tracks if you have to.
Other ways to help
  • Get your dog trained in avian awareness.
  • Volunteer with DOC or other groups to control predators and restore bird habitats.
  • Set traps for stoats or rats on your property. Get more information from your local DOC office.
  • Put a bell on your cat's collar, feed it well, and keep it indoors at dusk/dawn and at night.
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