Great Kererū Count takes to the skies | WWF New Zealand

Great Kererū Count takes to the skies

Posted on
22 September 2017
The Great Kererū Count (GKC) takes flight today 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. Join the Count at www.greatkererucount.nz
 
The 2017 Count will run from Friday 22 September to Sunday 1 October. 
 
WWF-New Zealand’s Chief Executive Officer, Livia Esterhazy said given the ecological importance of kererū, Great Kererū Count data was vital not just for protecting this species, but for ensuring the health of our forest ecosystems for future generations.
 
“Large flocks of more than 100 kererū were once a common sight in skies over New Zealand – our ambition is to see them prolific again,” Ms Esterhazy said.
 
“We’re encouraging New Zealanders to take part by counting the kererū in backyards, schools, parks or reserves. The information collected from this nation-wide project will be used to better protect kererū and to help save our native forests.” 
 
The humble kererū is one of New Zealand’s most valuable assets when it comes to our native forests. Kererū are known as the ‘gardeners of the skies’ as they play a crucial role in dispersing seeds of native canopy trees such as tawa, taraire and matai. No other bird can fulfil this function, making the species essential for forest regeneration.
 
Ms Esterhazy said kererū were distinctive looking birds. “Their large size and bright white singlets makes them easy to spot perched in treetops or on power lines,” she said.
 
As part of GKC 2017, Landcare Research is hosting a national Kererū Photographic Competition from 22 September – 22 October. Great prizes include a kererū shelf from Ian Blackwell, Topflite seed bells, a nectar feeder and predator control tools. Entries are welcome via the Kereru Discovery Facebook page, and on Instagram and Twitter (#GKCPhotoComp).
 
This year, Wellington City Council has kindly donated 500 locally-sourced native plants, which are being given to residents to plant and attract kererū. The last plant giveaway is 24 September.

Dr Stephen Hartley, Senior Lecturer in Ecology from Victoria University of Wellington, explains the scientific significance of the GKC project: “In the first few years we’re 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.”
 
To count kererū, people can use a computer, laptop, tablet or smartphone – whatever works best for the individual.
 
This year, there are three options to make kererū observations via www.greatkererucount.nzwww.naturewatch.org.nz or with the iNaturalist App available on iTunes and Google Play.
 
An online map showing all sightings and a ticker with the number of birds reported, will be updated automatically as the Count progresses.
 
The GKC is a partnership between WWF-New Zealand, Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington City Council, and NatureWatch NZ and supported by regional councils, environmental groups and bird watchers throughout New Zealand.

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Kererū are a fraction of their former abundance, and play an important role in native forest ecosystems.
© Rosalind Cole, Department of Conservation, Crown Copyright