Up to thirty songbirds bound for the ark

12 Jun 2009

Up to fifteen pairs of North Island Robin will be trans-located into the Waitakere’s “Ark in the Park” this weekend.

One of the first Ark in the Park fledglings, Photo: Karen Colgan

One of the first Ark in the Park fledglings, Photo: Karen Colgan

It is hoped these new feathery immigrants will make good breeding partners for the first group of robins that were successfully introduced into the predator controlled area in 2004.

“Our first robins were brought from the Rotorua area several years ago - and we’re expecting that they will get on just fine with the new arrivals from the Waikato. Unlike kokako, robin are not known to have a dialects, so we don’t expect them to have any communication problems. Interbreeding is really important for genetic diversity, especially in a newly established population like this,” says Ark in the Park Project Manager Dr Maj De Poorter.

Lying 35 minutes drive from Auckland in the Cascades Kauri Park, Ark in the Park is a volunteer community based project - a partnership between Forest and Bird and the Auckland Regional Council.

Since the park was established in 2003, volunteers have worked to restore the the pest-ravaged forest to its former glory and since then several native species have been successfully re-introduced into the park including whitehead & hihi. A transfer kokako, or blue wattled crow is expected to take place later this year.

“Nearly every year, we have extended the boundaries of the park, so now Ark in the Park is one of the largest, most accessible nature parks in the country. This allows us to draw on a huge pool of volunteers that help out at the park every weekend. At the ark, volunteers put in more than 5000 hours a year”.

After the robins are released in the forest volunteers will monitor the banded birds to ensure they are settling into their new home. “Robins are such cheeky, curious birds, so I’m sure visitors to the park will no doubt get to meet these new residents, or at least hear them singing from the branch tops.”

To hear the Robin’s song, click here. To find out more about the Ark in the Park, see www.arkinthepark.org.nz ________________________________________________________________

Robin release Date & time: Sunday 14th June, 12.00 – 13.00 Getting there: Drive through Swanson and continue on to the start of the Scenic Drive. Take the Te Henga Road turn-off (clearly marked), then take Falls Road, the first road on the left. For a map, click here. PLEASE NOTE: this is weather dependent, to confirm the robin release is taking place, contact Communications Officer Mandy Herrick on 027 617 8355 or project manager Maj De Poorter on 0210693594 in the morning. ________________________________________________________________

 Facts about robins: • The robin stands about 10 cm tall, weighs about 35 g, and individuals are often Inquisitive around people and confiding.

• Robins are territorial year round, and usually retain the same partner from year to year • Robins start breeding when six to 12 months old. The male offers food to his mate (courtship feeding), particularly while she is nest building and incubating- duties she undertakes alone.

• A robin’s diet consists mainly of small (<5 mm long) invertebrates, although they will readily kill and break up large invertebrates, such as stick insects, wetas and earthworms. Often portions of large prey are cached for retrieval later

• There are three subspecies of robin. North Island robin’s scientific name is Petroica australis longipes

Facts about Ark in the Park

• Established in 2003, Ark in the Park has grown to 1200 hectares of protected parkland. The long-term vision of the park is to extend the boundaries to 2000 hectares, so that it reaches right out to the coast

• Over the past 100 years many plants and animals have disappeared from the Waitakere Ranges, including kiwi, native falcons, long-tailed cuckoos, bellbirds, kakariki, short-tailed bats and many reptiles and invertebrates. It is hoped that many of these species return to this area, either by self-introduction, or through trans-locations, if there is extensive predator control over this area.

• International and local volunteers help with a variety of tasks at Ark in the Park, such as baiting, monitoring and trapping.