Date: 09 April 2009
Plans for the successful re-introduction of the North island robin, or toutouwai, onto Moehau in the northern Coromandel moved another step forward this week with birds being captured in special traps in Pureora Forest Park.
The capture follows on from the last 10 days where people from the Department of Conservation (DOC), Moehau Environment Group (MEG) and local iwi have been training birds in their natural habitat using food.
North Island robin being caught in trap.
"About 100 birds have been trained to appear for food when people clap their hands - we’ve being doing this daily now for 10 days. For the capture, we simply do the same exercise with clapping and placing food on the ground, except this time we place it inside a trap – the birds hop into these and we shut the door behind them." says DOC’s Wendy Davies, Project Manager for the transfer.
Once caught, the birds are transferred to a special holding area where they are examined by a vet and placed into individual boxes, ready for the drive north.
One of the keys to the success of the operation is transferring only disease-free birds. "The birds are given a ‘health-check’ in the forest before we move them north" says Lettecia Williams, Chairperson of MEG and one of the volunteers who has been living at Pureora for the past two weeks while the transfer has been underway.
Sixty birds are planned to be captured and transferred to Moehau in early April for release at two sites in Port Charles and Stony Bay. Not all birds captured are retained for transfer - some are released back into the forest immediately if they are juvenile or of the wrong sex.
The reintroduction of the birds is part of the ecological restoration on Moehau, recognised as one of the region’s most ecologically significant sites. If all goes well with the capture the birds should be released into their new home in the days before Easter.