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Home » Environment

Great Kererū Count takes to the skies

Submitted by on September 15, 2016 – 8:26 pm
© Tony Stoddard.

© Tony Stoddard.

The Great Kererū Count takes flight Friday September 116 and New Zealanders across the county are asked to keep their eyes on the skies to help build up a comprehensive picture of where our native pigeon is – and isn’t – found.

Kererū are known as the “gardeners of the skies” and play a crucial role for forest regeneration. Great Kererū Count data is critical not just for protecting this species, but for ensuring the vitality of our forest ecosystems for future generations.

The annual count runs from Friday 16th to Sunday 25th of September. The information collected from this nation-wide “citizen science” project will be used by conservationists to better protect kererū and to help save our native forests.

Tony Stoddard, WWF-New Zealand’s Great Kererū Count Coordinator, is encouraging everyone to take part by counting the kererū in backyards, schools, parks or reserves.

“Kererū are distinctive looking birds – with their large size and bright white singlets, surrounded by green and purple plumage makes them easy to spot perched in treetops or on power lines,” Mr Stoddard said.

“Whether you see any kererū or not, sharing your observations with us will help build up a clearer picture of where the birds live, how many there are and what they eat.”

This year we have made it as easy as possible to get involved. There are three options for you to make your kererū observations – it’s easy to add quick observations via www.greatkererucount.nz, or add kererū reports, photos or video via www.naturewatch.org.nz or the iNaturalist App available on iTunes and Google Play.


“To make kererū counts, people can use a computer, laptop, tablet or smartphone – whatever works best for for the observer,” he said

An online map showing all sightings and a ticker with the number of birds reported, will be updated automatically as the count progresses.

Dr Stephen Hartley, Senior Lecturer in Ecology from Victoria University of Wellington, explains the scientific significance of the project: “In the first few years we are building up a detailed picture of how kererū are distributed across the country, what they are feeding on, and especially the extent to which they are found in towns and cities”.

“Over time, we hope to discover whether numbers are increasing or decreasing and whether populations are faring better or worse in some parts of the country compared to others,” Dr Hartley said.

“This year we are especially keen for people to seek out new locations as well as returning to old haunts to make timed observations of between five and 30 minutes.

“Even if you don’t see a kererū in this time – that’s still useful information and important to submit.”

A map of last year’s observations can be found via the Great Kererū Count 2016 website.

Wellington City Council Environment Partnership Leader Tim Park said pest control and planting in Wellington had helped this once threatened species recover – “kererū is now a symbol of the recovery and successful restoration of our urban ecosystems”.

The kererū is the only mainland bird that can swallow large berries from trees like tawa, puriri, miro and karaka.

“The kererū is an important species for regenerating native forest ecosystems – they distribute the seeds of trees that make up the canopy of the forest by ‘pigeon-post’, playing a key role in regenerating broadleaf forests,” Mr Park explains.

“You can help us understand how populations of kererū are changing in New Zealand by getting out and about and recording where they see kererū (and where they aren’t!). This information helps us manage natural areas better.”

The Great Kererū Count is a partnership between WWF-New Zealand, Kererū Discovery, Victoria University of Wellington, WCC, and NatureWatch NZ.

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