The reward period for sighting information leading to the capture of an invasive pest bird – the red-vented bulbul – has ended without anyone qualifying for the payout.
Red-vented bulbuls, originating from Asia, 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 which is confirmed to be in Auckland.
A reward of $300 was offered on October 10 last year. It was increased to $1,000 on November 13. The reward was on offer to anyone who provided information leading to the capture of a red-vented bulbul by the response team working to eradicate this pest bird. The reward period ended at midnight on Friday February 28.
Photo of a red-vented bulbul taken in Auckland in July 2013
"The reward offer was successful in raising awareness that red-vented bulbul are present in Auckland," says DOC spokesperson Liz Brooks.
"We received 81 calls about possible sightings of red-vented bulbuls in October, the month the $300 reward was offered. We had a further 74 calls with possible sightings in November, when we increased the reward to $1,000."
"But the calls to our hotline dropped away in December, when we had five possible sightings reported. In January and February we received a total of six calls of possible sightings. None of the calls received during the reward period led to the capture of a red-vented bulbul so the reward was not paid out."
Photo of a red-vented bulbul taken overseas
The response team estimates there are at least five red-vented bulbuls in Auckland, based on confirmed sightings last year. It's most likely that they arrived by ship or yacht. They have been present in Auckland twice before and were successfully eradicated both times.
"Our response team believes there are still red-vented bulbuls in Auckland but they've 'gone to ground'. This is what happened last time these birds were in the city, but we did eradicate them," says Liz Brooks.
"We're asking the public to continue to keep an eye out for red-vented bulbuls and to call 0800 80 99 66 if they think they see one."
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.