17 May 2018

Birds thrive as suburb traps predators

From Afternoons with Jesse Mulligan, 1:34 pm on 17 May 2018

Kākā have nested metres from backyards and tui are “dripping off the trees” in a Wellington suburb where residents have been trapping pests, the founder of a predator-free group says.


Kākā are successfully rearing chicks in a Wellington suburb (file photo). Photo: Paul Ward

Kelvin Hastie started Predator Free Crofton Downs three-and-a-half years ago after seeing a stoat in his yard.

About 140 households in the suburb have a trap in their section and Hastie says locals are noticing a huge difference in birdlife as a result.

This year he spotted five kākā nests, either in the suburb or a just a few metres over its official boundary, and says 19 or 20 chicks fledged successfully.

Kākā were reintroduced to Wellington in 2001 when a small number were transferred to Zealandia wildlife sanctuary. Four breeding seasons ago, the first known successful nests outside the sanctuary appeared in Crofton Downs – about 4km away.

“To have them nesting literally 20 metres from people’s backyards is a pretty good result,” Hastie says

That’s not the only birdlife. “Tui are literally dripping off the trees, and kerurū have come away as well."

Kākāriki (red-crowned parakeet) are doing well, and residents are seeing  more pīwakawaka (fantail), which Hastie thinks is an indicator species of whether the birdlife is thriving.        

“They’re turning up in people’s backyards – people that have been living in an area for say 20 or 30 years and suddenly they’ve got them in their backyard."

Tui on flax

Tui are "dripping off the trees", Hastie says, Photo: Matt Binns, Wikimedia Commons

As the number of predators fall, others come in from outside the trapped area, so the group is setting traps further afield.  

“As we push out, especially into the rural zone, we’re finding more stoats and weasels so we’re picking them up before they come in and try and eat our kākā chicks.”

The hot summer provided lots of food for rodents, and the group is checking for rats, stoats and other predators.

May is “definitely the rattiest month”, Hastie says, as food is in shorter supply and rodents try to get inside to shelter from cooler weather.

Hastie says mice can steal the bait in rat traps, so the group is giving out mouse traps to set alongside them. And the best bait for traps? He’s heard it’s peanut butter.

Read more:

Jessie's rat trapping FAQ

Hihi breed in Taranaki for first time in 130 years



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