I had a very “hands on” time with Whiteheads in July when I helped transfer 20 whiteheads (Mohoua albicilla) from Tawharanui Regional Park to Shakespear Park which is just up the road from my place. Shakespear has been predator free for a few years now and while a few new species have established themselves this is the first species to be reintroduced. I should say that in NZ predator free means free of introduced mammalian predators. Our native predators are birds and are still present.
Firstly we set up mist nets, large panels of very fine mesh and very difficult to see. A speaker system is used to play the bird’s call and lure them into the net.
The birds are held briefly in bags once removed from the mist nets.
They are then banded, weighed, measured and place in transfer boxes ready for their transfer.
A few hours later they are released at their new home, which turns out to be very much to their liking – in three weeks many of them haven’t moved more than a few hundred meters from where they were released. It was also interesting to see that some of the food in their transfer boxes had been eaten indicating that they were not unduly stressed during the process.
A total of 60 whiteheads have been transferred to Shakespear and in the next few years they should spread through much of the park. The next bird on the list for transfer to Shakespear may be the North Island robin, a much quieter bird but much easier to watch. This robin (below) flew into our mist net, but after a quick photo I let him go.