Tieke return to Tawharanui

Awesome news from the Tawharanui Open Sanctuary Society. I hope they invite me to release one of the Tieke. I would LOVE that beyond all belief.

Tieke (saddlebacks) are being welcomed back to the Auckland mainland for the first time in more than 150 years. Ninety of these rare and endangered birds are being released into the open sanctuary at Tawharanui Regional Park during the next month.

Councillor Sandra Coney, Chair of the Parks, Recreation and Heritage Forum, says the return of this extremely vulnerable species will test the success of Tawharanui as a pest free open sanctuary.

“We have brought back kiwi, pateke, robins and whiteheads,” she says. “And bellbirds and kaka have returned to the park of their own accord.

“Tieke disappeared from the mainland in the mid to late 1800s, as a result of predators – especially rats.

“We hope, that by welcoming these birds to Tawharanui Open Sanctuary, they can once again have a stronghold on the mainland.”

Massey University’s Dr Kevin Parker says the tieke will come from Lady Alice, Red Mercury and Mokoia Islands – 30 birds from each population.

“Sourcing birds from three different populations tests the practicality of combining a variety of genetic backgrounds. The benefits of this lie in strengthening genetic fitness and overall population health.

“We are looking to see if these birds, with different song, will be willing to pair and breed,” he says.

Tawharanui Open Sanctuary Society Inc (TOSSI) Chair Steve Palmer says this release is a great way to mark TOSSI’s tenth anniversary.

“TOSSI volunteers have been working with the council for a decade. It is special occasions like this that reminds us what all the hard work has been about.

“We are delighted to celebrate our tenth anniversary with these new residents of Tawharanui Open Sanctuary and look forward to making them feel at home.”

The NZ Parks and Conservation Foundation, Birdlife International Community Conservation Fund and Forest & Bird have also contributed to the project to bring tieke back to Tawharanui.

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