Introduction

A re-assessment of the conservation status of NZ’s birds has revealed both losses and gains. The review was undertaken by a panel of experts, to help identify those species most in need of help.

Date:  16 April 2009

A re-assessment of the conservation status of New Zealand’s birds has revealed both losses and gains. The review was undertaken by a panel of experts, to help identify those species most in need of help.

Of the 428 taxa (species and subspecies) assessed, 77 were considered ‘Threatened’ and 93 ‘At Risk’. The assessments are undertaken every three years by a panel currently led by Dr Colin Miskelly of the Department of Conservation.

Grey duck. Photo: DOC
Grey duck

“The threat classification system was revised in 2008, making it difficult to compare these results directly with those from 2005,” Dr Miskelly said. “For the first time we have a category ‘Recovering’ for those taxa that have responded well to conservation management. These included little spotted kiwi, Pycroft’s petrel, brown teal, variable oystercatcher, and North and South Island saddlebacks. These birds all have populations greater than 1000 individuals and are increasing, and it is great to be able to recognise these success stories”.

“Of more concern is that all 21 bird taxa assessed as ‘Nationally Critical’ in 2005 remain in that most threatened category, along with three additional species that are declining rapidly: grey duck, eastern rockhopper penguin and grey-headed mollymawk”. High profile ‘Nationally Critical’ species include two types of kiwi, kakapo, takahe, black robin, fairy tern, black stilt and Chatham Island taiko.

Rockhopper penguin, Antipodes Island. Photo: DOC.
Rockhopper penguin

Overall, 19 taxa have improved their status, and 13 have declined. Those that have declined are mainly seabirds, and birds that use riverbeds and rough farmland. The main agents of decline for these taxa are fisheries by-catch, changes in oceanic productivity near breeding islands, and changes in land-use, particularly conversion of sheep farms to dairy production.

Further information is contained in the article:

Miskelly, C.M; Dowding, J.E.; Elliott, G.P.; Powlesland, R.G.; Robertson, H.A.; Sagar, P.M.; Scofield, R.P.; Taylor, G.A. 2008. Conservation status of New Zealand birds, 2008. Notornis 55: 117-135.

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