A new sanctuary home for hihi: Stories 14 May 2018

Kevin Parker from Tiritiri Matangi Island - holding a male juvenile hihi
Image: | DOC

Introduction

Around 50 people watched with anticipation as ten small hihi flew into their new home at Bushy Park Sanctuary near Whanganui recently.

Date:  14 May 2018

The birds were transported to Whanganui by translocation expert Dr Kevin Parker.

"The birds are transported at night in an attempt to minimise stress. We use air-conditioned vehicles with soft suspension, plenty of padding around the transfer boxes and block out the car windows to reduce light. We load and unload in silence and use red lights which the birds cannot see. With care most birds sleep through the move,” he said.

"Despite terrible weather recently, we managed to catch the agreed number of birds and get them safely off the island," said Bushy Park Manager, Mandy Brooke.

Most of the hihi flew in to the bush and disappeared but Ms Brooke said they would soon locate the well-stocked feeder nearby.

"They were fed the morning of release to buffer them for their day ahead exploring the forest.

"It is our hope these birds will thrive and breed with the current hihi population at Bushy Park and increase the genetic diversity."

The aim is see the park overflowing with hihi, where it is hoped the reintroduction will be as successful as those of the toutouwai (North Island robin) and tieke (saddleback) have been.

The hihi translocation was funded by Forest and Bird and Ms Brooke said it was also a pleasure to announce DOC approved funding for Bushy Park's Halo Project.

Hihi release
Kevin Parker from Tiritiri Matangi preparing to release the hihi
Image: DOC

"This project is to increase protection for birds overflowing from Bushy Park's protected forest into the surrounding landscape.

"We have three year's funding for traps and a contractor and we are looking forward to engaging with surrounding landowners as possible support for this project."

Ms Brooke also mentioned the Great Hihi Sperm Race - a project run by Otago University research fellow Helen Taylor. To find out more about the project visit hihispermrace.

Crowd watching hihi release
Watching the hihi being released into their new home at Bushy Park Sanctuary
Image: DOC

Whanganui Operations Manager Jazz Hessell said DOC was pleased to continue to support Bushy Park with funding through the DOC Community Fund. This funding will support the Bushy Park Halo Project.

The project is designed to increase protection for vulnerable birds overflowing from Bushy Park's protected forest into the surrounding landscape. Mandy Brooke later thanked DOC for the Whanganui DOC office support in the process leading up to the hihi release.

This translocation was a collaboration between Rotokare Scenic Reserve and Bushy Park Sanctuary, where some birds were translocated to both sites.

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