Kererū sightings increase in urban areas

Supplied photo.

The Great Kererū Count 2021 is reporting increased sightings of the bird in urban areas.

The count was the biggest yet, with more than 12,002 records submitted and more than 24,562 kererū counted between September 17 and 26.

Associate Professor Stephen Hartley, Director of the Centre for Biodiversity & Restoration Ecology at Victoria University of Wellington, says the increase in sightings was reflected in a nationwide perception of kererū becoming more abundant.

Urban sightings increased, particularly in Auckland city which recorded 28 per cent of the total this year, compared to 17 per cent in 2020.

“This may have been a result of more Aucklanders participating due to Covid-19 Alert Level 3, adding to the global stories of people having more time to observe nature while they are in their bubbles and homes.

“There is good evidence that re-connecting with nature is good for your health, and in particular mental wellbeing, and even though the Count is over, I hope people continue to connect with nature – especially in New Zealand’s urban centres.” 

Despite the increase in Auckland, districts which recorded the greatest number of kereru per capita were all in the South Island with Clutha, Dunedin, Westland and Buller all recording more than 25 kererū per 1000 inhabitants.

This is the last year of the Great Kererū Count, and there are now eight years of data which will provide a scientifically robust understanding of trends, and on how best to help kererū. This will be analysed this year by Sam Rammell, a post-graduate student at Victoria University of Wellington, and the data will also be available to anyone else who needs it.

Tony Stoddard of Kererū Discovery, who coordinates the Count, says that community participation over the last eight years has been a privilege to be part of.

“It has been incredibly inspiring to see participation right across New Zealand for the last 8 years and shows how much people value and love kererū. My favourite stories are where people have shared photos and videos of large flocks of kererū in the air, in trees, and on the ground. This really gives a sense of what numbers could and should be like.

With simple steps like predator control, planting trees and protecting kererū from being hit by cars, and flying into windows, we have the opportunity to make a real difference for kererū.”

Kererū Discovery would like to thank everyone who has taken part in the Count this year and in previous years. The Great Kererū Count has shown the strength of New Zealand working together to gain a better understanding of nature and to celebrate kererū.

Although this was the last year of the Great Kererū Count, Kererū Discovery will continue so that people can keep sharing their stories and encounters and continue to build a shared understanding of kererū.

The Great Kererū Count is a collaborative project led by Urban Wildlife Trust & Kererū Discovery together with partners Wellington City Council, Dunedin City Council/City Sanctuary, Nelson City Council and Victoria University of Wellington.

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