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The reward for sighting information that leads to the capture of an invasive pest bird - the red-vented bulbul - has been increased from $300 to $1000.

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Date:  13 November 2013

The reward for sighting information that leads to the capture of an invasive pest bird - the red-vented bulbul - has been increased from $300 to $1000.

Red-vented bulbul poster.The red-vented bulbul reward has been increased to $1000

Red-vented bulbuls can cause significant damage to fruit and vegetable crops and are known to chase and attack other birds. The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), Department of Conservation (DOC) and Auckland Council are working together to track and eradicate the red-vented bulbul confirmed to be in Auckland.

On October 10, a reward of $300 was offered to anyone providing information leading to the capture of a red-vented bulbul by the response team working to eradicate this pest bird, which comes from Asia.

“The reward has raised awareness of the red-vented bulbul that’s been sighted throughout Auckland,” says DOC spokesperson Liz Brooks.

“We’ve had more than 70 calls about possible sightings since we offered the $300 reward, a month ago, but are still working to capture one of these birds.”

“We’re asking the public to keep looking for red-vented bulbuls and to call 0800 80 99 66 if they think they see one. To encourage this we’ve increased the reward to $1000 for a sighting call that leads to the response team capturing a red-vented bulbul,” says Liz Brooks.

The reward for this sighting information will be available until the end of February next year.

“We think there are at least five red-vented bulbuls in Auckland which most likely arrived by ship or yacht. They’ve arrived in Auckland twice before and were successfully eradicated both times. They’re here again and we want to eliminate them before they make themselves at home,” says Liz Brooks.

The red-vented bulbul is one of the most invasive bird species in the world and in New Zealand is listed as an unwanted organism under the Biosecurity Act 1993. The maximum penalty for importing, trading, releasing, exhibiting or breeding a red-vented bulbul is five years in prison or a fine of $100,000.

Red-vented bulbuls are confirmed to be located in three clusters in Auckland: south Auckland (Mangere /Manurewa/ Alfriston), west Auckland (Henderson / Te Atatu / Massey) and on the North Shore (Devonport / Belmont / Takapuna). There’s also been a confirmed sighting on the Whangaparaoa Peninsula.

Red-vented bulbul in Auckland.
Photo of a red-vented bulbul taken in Auckland in July 2013

There have also been unconfirmed sightings in Orakei, in central Auckland, and at Walton, between Morrinsville and Matamata in Waikato.

“We’re asking people, particularly in the Auckland region, to keep an eye and an ear out for red-vented bulbuls. They have a very distinctive call, unlike other birds you normally hear,” says Liz Brooks.

Red-vented bulbuls are easy to spot. They are a medium-sized bird, around 20 centimetres in length, about the size of a starling. They have a black head, a dark back, grey-white belly, and a distinctive crimson-red patch beneath their tail.


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