Date: 21 October 2009
A concerned local Turangi resident recently called in a sighting to the Department of Conservation of two dead ducklings he had found on a grassy edge in Koura Street.
With whio (blue duck) breeding season in full swing on the Tongariro River there was apprehension from DOC staff that these could be our beautiful rare and endangered bird. Biodiversity ranger Fiona Maguire went to investigate and discovered that they were the common mallard. While it’s always a concern finding something such as this it was a relief they were not whio ducklings.
A closer inspection of the ducklings heads revealed small puncture wounds and it seems likely that a soft mouthed dog had carried them from the river edge and dropped them in the street. Cats would normally eat some or all of their prey, so they are unlikely to be the culprit on this occasion.
It’s a timely reminder that those out walking along the Tongariro River should keep their dog under control at all times. Whio ducklings are on the Tongariro River at the moment and they cannot fly to safety until they fledge approximately 70 days from the time they are born. Therefore the first two months of the breeding season is a critical time for them.
“We appreciate that fishermen and walkers often have dogs with them along the river, and we are not asking dogs to be kept away”, says Kim Alexander-Turia, DOC Community relations manager. “We just hope people will keep an eye on their dogs just to be sure they aren’t up to any mischief. The same goes for dogs which live near the river, it would be good if owners could make sure they don’t roam at this time of year”.
It is also paradise shelduck breeding season and the time of year where young paradise ducklings can easily fall out of their nest. They can nest in trees up to 6m off the ground. With living so close to the Tongariro River it will not be unusual to see paradise ducklings walking the neighbourhood trying to find their way back to their nest and looking for their parents. Please leave rounding up the ducklings to their parents!
We are interested in any sightings of whio as these are kept on a database. If in doubt, contact DOC and we will get out to take a look.