Female Bellbird

Female Bellbird
Female Bellbird

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Wellington Zoo 2011 Year

Tui waiting for some Bling but watch out for those claws!

After the record year in 2010 we had rather disappointing banding numbers in 2011. With a total of 466 birds of 13 species banded and 199 recaptures of 11 species, this is the lowest total since 2002 and just over half the numbers in 2010. There are several possible reasons for the lower numbers –
# Fewer birds of key species esp. the big three; Silvereye, Greenfinch and House Sparrow.
# Bad weather days, several of our banding sessions were affected by weather which meant that fewer nets were put up and a reduced catch.
# My health, with several surgical procedures during the year the timing of sessions was disrupted.

Since starting banding at the Zoo in July 2000 we have banded 7038 birds and made 2369 recaptures. Our oldest bird of each species banded at the Zoo in days from banding are; Blackbird 3299 (dead) 2621 (live), Chaffinch 1780 (recaptured at Houghton Bay), Goldfinch 1428, Greenfinch 1792, Dunnock 1355 (dead) 1190 (live), House Sparrow 2457, Fantail 154, Grey Warbler 1519, Silvereye 2674, Starling 2918 (dead) 2261 (live) Song Thrush 889, Tui 2269 (dead) 2350 (live colour band sighting).

 Silvereye being moult scored
Species caught during the year in order of new birds banded are (recaps in brackets) –

# 1 Silvereye – 139 (74) the usual No species but a big drop from the 330 in 2010. Silvereyes almost disappeared from most of our banding sites mid winter.  This coincided with a big increase in numbers feeding on Karo flowers in the Houghton Valley where we caught record numbers.
# 2 Greenfinch – 128 (80) usually either No 2 or 3 but again a big drop from last year, this appears to be a real drop in numbers as it was across all banding sites. Were there fewer birds or did the country birds not come to town?
# 3 House Sparrow – 80 (15) usually alternate with Greenfinch for 2 & 3 spot, for the third year in a row Sparrow numbers crashed in the autumn.
# 4 Chaffinch – 46 (7) usually in 4th or 5th position.
# 5 Fantail – 20 (3) most birds caught at the stream on summer evenings.
# 6 Blackbird – 19 (11)
# 7 Tui – 10 (1) our highest number since 2006
# 8 Dunnock – 8 (3) a considerable drop in numbers from recent years.
# 9 Starling – 7 (4) also a big drop with Starling appearing to have had a poor breeding season in 2010.
# 10 Yellowhammer – 3 (0) very few came into the Zoo last winter possible due to the hay being fed having very little seed.
# 11 Goldfinch 2 (0) again very few around the Zoo
# 12 Grey Warbler (2 (1) not many but the recap was a cracker; doubling the age of any recap at any of our sites.
# 13 Song Thrush – 1 (0) still a mystery to me why we catch so few as there are reasonable numbers about the net sites.

No Kingfishers or Magpies were banded this year but we did catch a new species; a Morepork. One was caught when it tried to take a Chaffinch out of a net one afternoon before Christmas when I was checking the stream site for birds. As our permit doesn’t cover this species it was let go unbanded.

As well as wild free flying birds we banded a number that were in rehab at the "Nest" (Animal Hospital) and the most numerous and perhaps most interesting were 10 Kereru, most of which were at the Nest as a result of a collision with a window.
 Kereru (NZ Pigeon) in Kowhai
A special thanks to the Zoo staff, especially the Bird team for their continuing help and support.

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