Rare Mahia bird found dead in Napier

Critically endangered: There are only 250 shore plover left in the wild, making them one of New Zealand’s most endangered species. Picture by Dave Houston
LONG WAY FROM HOME: This tuturuatu, named Obow, was found washed-up on the beach at Westshore, Napier, all the way from her Waikawa (Portland Island) home. The Department of Conservation believe she may have been killed by a predator, based on pinprick size holes in her chest. Picture by Judy Tindall

A MAHIA-based tuturuatu, or shore plover, one of New Zealand’s rarest creatures, has been found dead on a Napier beach.

The bird — named Obow after her leg bands — was found at Westshore, Napier, all the way from her Waikawa (Portland Island) home off the tip of the Mahia Peninsula.

At times these birds like to visit the shores and rivers of the greater Hawke’s Bay area.

After Obow was handed over to Department of Conservation staff, she was sent to Massey University to determine the cause of death.

DoC Hawke’s Bay’s operations manager Connie Norgate said while the bird appeared to be in good health, the team at Massey found small pinprick-sized holes in its chest.

“This suggests to us this bird might have been killed by a predator,” she said.

“Tuturuatu are highly susceptible to predation — a single rat can wipe out an entire population.

“This makes biosecurity and pest control highly essential to protect this species.”

With only 250 left in the wild, the tuturuatu is critically endangered, with the last naturally occurring population found on the remote Chatham Islands.

However, thanks to the captive breeding programme at Pukaka Mount Bruce and the Isaac Conservation Wildlife Trust, birds can be sourced to populate suitable new locations.

Ms Norgate said Waikawa had proved to be such a location.

“With limited predator-free offshore islands with appropriate habitat, places like Waikawa are incredibly valuable for the future of this species.

“The more securely and safely the population can be built up will mean this species has a better chance of survival.

“It also means every single one of these birds count if we are going to save them from extinction.

“It reminds us that projects such as Predator Free 2050 are more important than ever.”

Ms Norgate said the public should report tuturuatu sightings to Nature Watch at naturewatch.org.nz or to their local DoC office.

“If you can observe the colours of the leg bands, that can provide a lot of useful information to us.”

A MAHIA-based tuturuatu, or shore plover, one of New Zealand’s rarest creatures, has been found dead on a Napier beach.

The bird — named Obow after her leg bands — was found at Westshore, Napier, all the way from her Waikawa (Portland Island) home off the tip of the Mahia Peninsula.

At times these birds like to visit the shores and rivers of the greater Hawke’s Bay area.

After Obow was handed over to Department of Conservation staff, she was sent to Massey University to determine the cause of death.

DoC Hawke’s Bay’s operations manager Connie Norgate said while the bird appeared to be in good health, the team at Massey found small pinprick-sized holes in its chest.

“This suggests to us this bird might have been killed by a predator,” she said.

“Tuturuatu are highly susceptible to predation — a single rat can wipe out an entire population.

“This makes biosecurity and pest control highly essential to protect this species.”

With only 250 left in the wild, the tuturuatu is critically endangered, with the last naturally occurring population found on the remote Chatham Islands.

However, thanks to the captive breeding programme at Pukaka Mount Bruce and the Isaac Conservation Wildlife Trust, birds can be sourced to populate suitable new locations.

Ms Norgate said Waikawa had proved to be such a location.

“With limited predator-free offshore islands with appropriate habitat, places like Waikawa are incredibly valuable for the future of this species.

“The more securely and safely the population can be built up will mean this species has a better chance of survival.

“It also means every single one of these birds count if we are going to save them from extinction.

“It reminds us that projects such as Predator Free 2050 are more important than ever.”

Ms Norgate said the public should report tuturuatu sightings to Nature Watch at naturewatch.org.nz or to their local DoC office.

“If you can observe the colours of the leg bands, that can provide a lot of useful information to us.”

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