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Want to contribute to Zealandia’s conservation mahi just by taking a photo?
ZEALANDIA Ecosanctuary

Want to contribute to Zealandia’s conservation mahi just by taking a photo?

Bird sighting information, especially that of banded birds, can be a goldmine for researchers and conservation practitioners, making it possible to evaluate and track changes in population sizes, survival, breeding, behaviour, and more. A fantastic way for anyone to contribute towards our conservation and management of our taonga species is to submit sighting information directly to us through our new online photo submission form.   

How do my photos and sighting information help protect the birds? 

If you have snapped any photos during your visit in which you can see the bands on an individual, we can use these photos as resighting data. When individuals are resighted, it helps us determine how many individuals are alive, how long they are living for, where they are dispersing to, and what they are up to. This gives us valuable information that helps us figure out what threats they may be facing and how we can help address these, for example predation outside the fence, lack of natural food, low breeding success and disease.  

We are also interested in sighting information about these protected species that are seen outside of Zealandia. By understanding which species are dispersing into surrounding areas, we can look into ways of better protecting these birds. Additionally, by learning what neighbourhoods they are frequently seen in we can identify areas that may especially benefit from predator control. 

What sightings are of interest? 

Any sightings when you were able to either record or photograph the band combination of a bird, either inside the valley or in surrounding neighbourhoods. 

Sightings without band information are of interest if you witnessed interesting behaviour that you would like to report, or if you have seen any of the following species in Wellington neighbourhoods outside the fence: 

  • Hihi/stitchbird 

  • Korimako/bellbird 

  • Titipounamu/rifleman 

  • Tīeke/ saddleback 

  • Kākāriki/ red-crowned parakeet 

  • Pāteke/ brown teal 

  • Toutouwai / North Island robin 

When in doubt, send it through! 

What information do I need to submit? 

Give us as many details as you can but definitely try to include the following: 

  • - Species 
  • - Date 
  • - Photos if possible 
  • - Band combination if seen 
  • - Location 
  • - Behaviour or additional comments 

Our photo submission form makes this easy and provides prompts for this information.  

How do we record bird bands? 

Bird band combinations can be recorded by noting the combination of band colours that an individual has. The colours are read from their left leg first, top to bottom, followed by the right leg, top to bottom. For some more information about bird bands and tips on reading them watch this helpful video. 

Why are so many sightings needed? 

Our conservation team carry out regular monitoring of these manu species, which includes recording which individuals are visiting our sugar water feeders. While some birds visit the feeders often and could be considered ‘regulars’, other individuals are rarely seen, making any information about them valuable. Because we won’t know if we are seeing one of the rare birds until it is checked against the database, it is always helpful to send it through since there is no downside to extra data.  

Reading and recording the colour of bird bands can also be challenging in different lighting conditions and as we often have a fleeting opportunity to get a good look as the birds move around. Repeated sightings reduce uncertainty around records of rarely seen individuals. 

 Frequent sightings can also help us closely track an individual and determine when they disappear from the population and therefore why.  

Remember to give our new online easy-to-use photo submission form a try after your next visit to the valley. By sending us this information directly we can keep a close eye on our bird species, and you will be contributing towards their conservation. In addition to submitting through our photo submission form your sighting information can be uploaded to apps like iNaturalist and e-bird. These platforms are used by conservationists and conservation practitioners worldwide to look at the distribution of species, so contributing your sightings can help provide accurate data.  

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