how many bird species in new zealand

Tūī are a common garden bird in areas where pest control is being carried out. Credit: Craig McKenzie

New Zealand is home to over 200 native bird species, many of which are found nowhere else in the world.

When youre identifying a bird, its important to take notes about how the bird looked, sounded, or behaved.

Our birds are unique. They evolved in isolation for millions of years without any land-based mammalian predators.

When people arrived in New Zealand, they introduced predators like stoats, rats, cats, and possums, which prey on our native birds by eating adult birds, chicks, and eggs.

This means many of our native bird species are in trouble and today, 68 percent of our birds are threatened with extinction.

At Forest & Bird, we receive a lot of enquiries from people who need help identifying a bird they have seen or heard. We have compiled a list of online resources that will help you to identify some of New Zealands unique birdlife.

Conservation edit Adult

According to a 1997 report, when humans first arrived in New Zealand, there were at least 196 native species in total, comprising at least 131 species of land, freshwater, and coastal birds and an additional 65 species of seabirds (gulls, albatrosses, petrels, and penguins) (this count may have risen since subspecies have been reclassified as species) Of the 20131% species that lived on or near land, 2093% (or 2071%) were endemic, and of the 2065% species of seabirds, 2022% (20 or 2034%) were endemic, making 20115% (20 or 2059%) endemic species overall. In 2018, the combined effects of invasive species and climate change resulted in the permanent extinction of at least 60 bird species, three frog species, seven vascular plants, and an uncountable number of invertebrate species. [11].

Many birds are extinct or in danger of becoming extinct due to habitat loss, predation by introduced species, and their historical use as a food source by Māori. Currently, 274 percent of New Zealand’s terrestrial birds are deemed threatened or at risk of going extinct as of 2019. Massive conservation efforts are underway to save many bird species, such as the kiwi, takahī, kākāpō, mohua, kōkako, whio, and hihi. One well-known example of a conservation success story, largely attributable to Don Merton’s efforts, is the preservation of the black robin on the Chatham Islands. Another important example is the kiwi and whio, where recent human intervention has increased the success of nesting and hatching from 8%E2%80%9310%%20to %2090%. [13] Kiwi and other terrestrial birds have recovered and greatly increased their populations by erecting physical barriers to keep predators away from nesting areas or by moving predators.

According to a report from 2019,41% of all endemic species became extinct, with 2093% of the endemic land, freshwater, and coastal bird species going extinct from the time of the first human settlement until 1994. Additionally, 4% of the endemic seabird species went extinct, making up 21043% of all endemic species. Since 1840, there have been fifteen species extinctions (the North Island snipe’s elevation from subspecies to species status will bring the total to sixteen). The 2005 New Zealand Threat Classification System list indicated that 153 species or subspecies faced extinction at that time. It is estimated that natural evolutionary processes would take between 10 and 50 million years to restore New Zealand’s biodiversity to its current levels if the country’s currently threatened bird species went extinct. [14][15].

History after human settlement edit Artist’s rendition of a

As a result, numerous bird species went extinct, and others are still in grave danger of extinction. After human settlement, nearly half of New Zealand’s native birds went extinct, making this one of the greatest extinction waves in recorded history. [5] Nowadays, a number of species are restricted to fenced “ecological islands” or offshore islands where predators have been eradicated. New Zealand is a global leader in the methods needed to save critically endangered species from extinction and in providing habitats so that these species can repopulate. These areas span the entire nation and comprise 44 marine reserves, 13 national parks, and numerous other protected areas. Over 100,000 protected areas total, making up 1/3 of the nation. [6] Because of these protected areas, flying birds in particular are less vulnerable to land-use changes, introduced species, and hunting. [5][7].

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Tūī are a common garden bird in areas where pest control is being carried out. Credit: Craig McKenzie

More than 200 native bird species can be found in New Zealand, many of which are unique to the world.

It’s crucial to record the appearance, sound, and behavior of the bird when you’re identifying it.

  • How big was it?
  • What colour was it?
  • Did it have any markings?
  • What colour or shape was its beak?
  • What colour eyes did it have?
  • What was it doing?
  • What did it sound like?

Our birds are unique. For millions of years, they lived in isolation and had no land-based mammalian predators.

Predators such as stoats, rats, cats, and possums were brought to New Zealand by humans and now feed on adult birds, chicks, and eggs of native birds.

This indicates that a large number of our native bird species are facing extinction, with 68% of our bird population currently in danger.

In the Forest We’ve put together a list of web tools to assist you in recognizing some of New Zealand’s distinctive bird species.

A pīwakwaka (fantail). Credit: Craig McKenzie


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