Introduction

Just ten weeks after being released on Rangitoto and Motutapu a threatened native bird has begun hatching chicks on both islands.

Just ten weeks after being released on Rangitoto and Motutapu a threatened native bird has begun hatching chicks on both islands.             

Tīeke, or saddleback, which have been brought back from the brink of extinction were released to mark the removal of rats, possums, stoats and other animal pests from Rangitoto and Motutapu. 

“We’re over the moon that just over two months after being released onto their new predator free homes tīeke are hatching chicks on both Rangitoto and Motutapu,” says Department of Conservation ranger Hazel Speed.

“So far we’ve got four tīeke chicks, two on Motutapu and two on Rangitoto.” 

Tīeke born on Rangitoto Island.
Tīeke born on Rangitoto Island

“The chicks are all in good shape. They’ve been weighed and individually identified by placing bands on their legs.” 
 
“We’re thrilled at how well the tīeke have settled on to both islands, particularly Rangitoto. Rangitoto’s volcanic landscape is completely different from Tiritiri Matangi where all these birds have come from.”

“The tīeke have not only survived the move they are in really good condition, have paired up and are successfully breeding.”
 
“It’s exciting having this iconic native bird on these islands just 30 minutes by ferry from downtown Auckland.”

“The tīeke can be heard singing at the summit of Rangitoto and around Home Bay on Motutapu, areas where they were released and have settled in so well,” says Hazel Speed.        
 
The tīeke were released on Rangitoto and Motutapu to mark the 27 August announcement by Conservation Minister Kate Wilkinson that DOC had successfully removed nine animal pests - ship rats, Norway rats, stoats, possums, mice, wallabies, feral cats, hedgehogs and rabbits - from the both islands.

Twenty tīeke were released near Home Bay on Motutapu on 27 August. Another 20 tīeke were released at the summit of Rangitoto on 28 August. Four takahē, two females and two males, were released on Motutapu on 27 August. 
        
Tīeke eggs on Motutapu Island.
Tīeke eggs on Motutapu Island
The tīeke chicks on Motutapu have been hatched in a nest built in a nesting box. Students at Long Bay College, on Auckland’s North Shore, built 31 nesting boxes and 100 roosting boxes for the tīeke. These have been set up throughout an area of native bush that was planted by volunteers from the Motutapu Restoration Trust.

The chicks on Rangitoto are in a nest built at the base of a flax bush. “These chicks would have been easy prey for rats, stoats and other predators if they hadn’t been eradicated,” says Hazel Speed.

Hazel Speed says the four takahē released on Motutapu have settled into their new home. Each bird has a transmitter with its own unique signal and the birds have been tracked at locations right across Motutapu.

“They takahē are making their presence felt on Motutapu. They’ve been sighted at various places and are being heard calling at night,” says Hazel Speed.

“It’s really too early for them to be breeding. They’re all two years old and takahë mostly breed when they reach three.”         

Further information on tīeke and takahē

 
Both tīeke and takahē have been brought back from the brink of extinction.

Tīeke

Tīeke or saddleback, rely on pest-free islands for their survival as they are very vulnerable to rats. The North Island population was once limited to 500 on Hen Island in the Hen and Chicken Islands Group in Bream Bay near Whangarei.

Tīeke are now established on a number of pest free islands in the North Island.  These have reached capacity so having Rangitoto and Motutapu as new a pest-free home will help increase tīeke numbers.

Takahē

There are only 250 takahē in the world. Takahē were thought extinct until they were rediscovered in Fiordland in 1948.

Motutapu will play a crucial role in the work to increase takahë numbers. It’s grassland habitat provides a good feeding ground for takahë and the island is big enough to hold the largest population outside of Fiordland. It’s hoped that up to 20 breeding pair will be established on Motutapu.

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